Monday, May 2, 2011

Surfers town Arugam Bay

Brent and I have spent the last five days or so on the East Coast of Sri Lanka in a sleepy little surfers town known as Arugam Bay. The moon shape beach is renowned for its point break and is often regarded as the best surf spot in the country. Being off season, Brent is in heaven surfing from dusk to dawn while only having to share his waves with a few locals and a handful of tourists. Unfortunately he learnt the hard way on his first day that the surf sits on top of a sharp and nasty reef and as a result has earned his far share of reef cuts and grazes.

While Brent surfs his days away I am trying in vain to study for my exams but am more often than not distracted by the vast array of wildlife that combs the beach, monkeys, snakes, goats, cows, lizards, birds and the obligatory stray dogs and cats. Upon driving into the town we even spotted a few wild elephants and Brent has been lucky enough to spot a few turtles in the surf. Further inland crocodiles lurk in mangroves but the locals charge a hefty price to visit them. Our little beach hut isn't without its own small menagerie of insects and creepy crawlies and I seem to be sharing my crackers with a mysterious creature that takes his share noisily in the night. I was also surprised to find myself sharing a bed with a centipede as long as a lizard!

Despite the quiet lazy days, nights are frustratingly noisy. The dozens of seemingly harmless stray dogs that bask silently in the sun by day turn gremlin like and ferocious by night as they attack each other in futile and brutal dog fights. The local do not seem to hear a thing!

Another thing worth mentioning about the town and Sri Lanka in general is the incredibly delicious food. The food is distinct and complex and often requires ordering in advance. Despite the staple being rice and curry it is unlike the cuisine of its Indian neighbours and I am surprised it has not taken off in the West. When we think of curry in Australia we tend to associate it with curry powder or Indian curry but the curry here could not be further from that taste. A vegetable curry generally means a bowl of rice with 3 to 8 separate bowls of different vegetables all prepared in their own unique way. I cannot tell you the names of what I have been eating but my favourites have included the most delectable eggplant curry, an insatiable beetroot dish and a butternut squash curry that was to die for.

On one such occassion we were told to visit the little old man who runs the library by a young family of hippies. They insisted the man was a genius in the kitchen. True to their word this yoda like yogi with a greying beard almost to his navel works magic in his little kitchen. His restaurant consists of an 8 seater dinning room table and his library is an impressive collection of his own books which he allows tourists to book swap and buy. Food needs to booked a day in advance here and there is no menu, he simply cooks what is fresh and seasonal into an intricate mix of mouth watering curries. While we ate at his home, browsed his bookshelf and pried into his impressive travels the old man knocked back a family of five keen to try his magic because he needed time to prepare. He informed us while he rubbed his temples that chopping and grating all those vegetables took much concentration!

Tomorrow we will leave this sleepy surf town for another. Lets see where the bus takes us. 
The damage after hitting the reef

Brent's first surf in almost five months

Brent riding the waves of Arugam

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