By the 4th day in port Bill was getting bored just sitting on the boat. After a 2 day delay the North Sails guy had finally gotten our ripped mainsail out of the port and to the loft for repair. Customs had demanded bribes for each of the 10 boats sending sails out of the port for repair, and this delayed the repair process by almost 2 full days. The laundry we had sent out had been returned, smelling all nice and clean again even if it was washed by hand instead of machines. Most of the little repair items on our list from the recent storm damage had been effected. Most of our sailing friends have gone off to do island tours for several days. We are reluctant to leave our boat on the flimsy blue plastic floating dock to go touring (without electricity to keep our batteries charged, thus the freezer frozen), so we were sitting on the boat just getting more and more bored. We are each reading political books and not particularly interested at the moment. Reading is our normal escape into oblivion but the adjectives used in Bob Woodward's book "Obama's Wars" is really just pissing Bill off, so reading isn't in the cards right now. So, what to do when bored? Well, just get out and start walking, of course. Ought to be okay to leave the boat for a few hours.
Just outside the port security gate we hailed a tuk-tuk and told him to just drive. Anywhere. Just turn right and drive and we will see what can be found. We ended up at a delightful little beach filled with European tourists and tiny hotels and bars/restaurants. Bill chatted up a couple of young women from London on holiday. They told us that all the small beach hotels stay booked and one must reserve well in advance. Funny that. Would not have thought of Sri Lanka as a big beach tourist destination. Seems to be very popular with Europeans. After a cold beverage we moved on to wherever the tuk-tuk driver wanted to take us next.
Next stop was a coconut factory. We had no idea what a coconut factory might be. I thought maybe it was to process coconuts for candy. Nope. This coconut factory produces various household things. First they soak the coconuts in water for 30 days. Then the outer husks are removed and shredded. Then the fibers of the outer husks are separated from the moist hull part. The fibers are then dried and used to produce rope. The moist hull material is further separated into 2 components used in nursery plants. They obtain a fibrous material that acts like mulch and a very moist material that is used to make soil less dense, sort of like natural vermiculite or perlite
The remaining fibrous parts of the coconuts are used to make mattresses. These are nothing like the mattresses we are familiar with, but they are the customary mattresses for this part of the world. Goodness gracious me! I could never sleep on one of these mattresses. I would be worried to death about insects.
The tiny old women working in this factory were a sight to see. With the exception of the younger woman in the red shirt, every one of them was chewing betel nut, which first is red and then causes the teeth to turn black and the front teeth to rot away. It shocks one at first when they smile exposing the black teeth and gaping holes with red stains all around the mouth. This isn't the first culture that we have encountered that chews betel nuts but the whole concept still escapes me. Why would anyone want to chew that stuff!
The ride to and from the coconut factory was "colorful." We enjoyed people watching (and cow and goat watching in the middle of the road sometimes). Unfortunately, the tuk-tuk ride was too bouncy to allow us to take any photos. Our driver was the nicest man imaginable. When I asked if the coconut factory also produced coconut for food, he wanted to know if we had yet eaten Sri Lankan curry made from coconut milk. When we said we had eaten coconut milk and coconut cream curries in other countries but not yet in Sri Lanka, he insisted that we must come to dinner at his home the next night and his wife would cook Sri Lankan style curry for us. He was most sincere in his invitation, but we declined. We would feel bad about the extra cost of food for him to feed an additional 2 people.
Next stop was a jewelry, lace, clothing and batik factory. This was an Islamic business and the men were extremely nice and polite. They showed us how stones are polished in the old water tray method; but that really is not used today at their factory. They use modern electric polishing wheels. The stones were pretty and the jewelry nice; but I am not in the market for any jewelry. I thought about buying a traditional moonstone or amethyst bangle replica for our granddaughter. But $400 is too much to pay for a bracelet for a 9-year-old girl.
There were a half-dozen women making lace by hand. This is the first time I have seen this process. It is very time consuming. It takes one woman about 5 days to make a lace collar about 3-inches wide. Some of the lace was very pretty and I was tempted to buy something. But what the heck would I do with it? The batik was the same old batik process we have seen a dozen times. Nothing new there. I have no need for any batik. The clothing and wall hangings were nothing we were interested in buying either. Really have no use for any of it. Sorry guys; but no purchases from these tourists today.
Next stop was a supermarket where we searched hard to find something to our liking. I am very glad we stocked the boat so well in Singapore and Phuket. There isn't much in the way of food that we will buy in Sri Lanka. We have found 2 things locally that we like very much. They have very tiny oranges that are easy to peel and are delicious. Fabulous snack food. And I thought we had seen every type of banana known to man, but I was wrong. Here in Sri Lanka they have a small lemon banana that is wonderful. Previously the Lady Finger bananas grown in Central America and Tonga were our favorite. The lemon bananas of Sri Lanka are our new favorite.
BTW, during our recent passage through hell Bill grew a beard. It was not intentional. It was simply too rough to shave. So he let it grow thinking he might keep the beard while we are in the Muslim countries of the Red Sea. After all, they believe all men should have facial hair and should never be clean shaven. Bill finally shaved it off today. He said it was too hot to have all that hair on his face. So back to normal again.
As always, remember that you can click on each photo to see a larger image.