Behind The Wall

The well seasoned walls of Galle Fort wrap around 52 hectares of Sri Lankan community, unique in historical context and cultural diversity. The walls encase a place of intense atmosphere and architectural beauty, and one that features high on my list of all time favourites …

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this citadel, built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century, was later taken by the Dutch, Sinhalese and British – all of whom have left reflections in the corners and alleys of the quaint cobbled streets.

The combination of history, multiculturalism and everyday life, underlined by beautiful ocean is perhaps what I am drawn to.

Clearly, I am not unique as this is Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist destination.

During the week the pulse of fort life beats to the rhythm of daily routine as residents and relocated expats get on with their lives,

joined by the constant trail of tourists flowing through the gates,

seeking out a night or two of exploration and sapphire shopping before heading into the hill country,

in search of elephants, to tramp through tea plantations or ride the Ella Train or perhaps head South East on a surf quest.

As the weekend approaches the gates are flooded.

School tours, weddings, Instagram opportunists, more tourists, travelers, local cricket squads, masseuses, photographers, missionaries and ministries;

Buddhists and Ayurveda healers,

antique dealers and food critiques,

fashionistas and street performers-

all seeking to administer their gifts and enjoy the vibe.

Incense curls around the call to pray from the Meera Mosque and the sound of the Groot Kerk organ, orange clad monks at the Buddhist Temple and hymns of worship peeling out of All Saints testify to the tolerance and diversity embodied here.

This is a place, unconventional in its sharing, where families have lived, traded and worshiped for many years and now in one form or another, benefit from the fiscal flow of tourism – a sharing that has lead to reward.

And as life goes on in this village in a fort, its wall seem to harbor a containment,

drawing you in whilst collaborating with a deep welcome that requests one to relax, enjoy and explore.

Celebrating fabulous historic locations and the beauty of travel – Spring 2017

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Cinnamon Island

Half way between Galle and Welligama along the southern coast of Sri Lanka lies a lake of islands.

On an afternoon of small swell and easterly winds sweet Kalana took a break from his Nokia and loaded us into his beloved tuk- tuk to brave the coastal highway traffic.

Passing colonial ruins, fishermen on poles, coconut groves and surf spots,

we arrive to a boatman waiting along the bank, in hope of trade. We provided him with his afternoon’s income and he provided us with a gentle ride across the expanse of water, past Temple Island, Spice Island and Bird Island,

to the docking point at Cinnamon Island.

If the mood takes, a fish pedicure is on offer at a makeshift cleaning station on a  raft floating at the waters edge. Declining we head up a clove- tree lined path to the shelter at the top, where the Island Keeper and his family live.

The welcome is hospitable and seating provided under the shelter of the homestead stoep with Cinnamon tea served as we await the demonstration. The Cinnamon Man’s smile is shy but firmly consensual when I ask if I may take pictures.

With the confidence of a showman that contradicts his shy demeanor he assures me that this is no problem. His photo has traveled far and wide…

I have no doubt it has…. tourists flow steadily through this lovely space over the seasonal months.

It is easy to understand why. The tea is delicious and the atmosphere  gently hypnotic.

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Calmly we watch as The Cinnamon Man works his tools to remove one curled layer of cinnamon bark from a branch – to be dried in the sun.His wife smashes and sieves dried cinnamon out in front of us, leaving swirls of pungent and exotic aromas floating in the air, which we carry away with us as we head back down the path to the waters edge…….

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First Quarter, 2016 – Celebrating the Spices of Life… Lanka Style!