It hurts just a little bit when my mobile phone plays its wake-up tune (“House of Valparaiso” by Calexico, one of my fave bands) at 5 a.m. I could have slept longer :-) But the morning prayers of the nearby mosque are waking us anyway. Everyone is still asleep when we sneak out the room into the hall. Only the night guard is there and he hands us a bag with a packed breakfast. Rohan, our loyal companion de route, is picking us up for the drive to the harbor of Mirissa, where we will get on the boat. All is quiet in Galle at this early hour, the streets are empty.
It’s about a 45 minute drive and driving by the coastline we can see small fishing boats sailing out as the sun colours the sky in a purple pinky shade. Mirissa harbor is very chaotic and Rohan parks the car somewhere at good luck. There are hundreds of fishing boats here and we walk till we spot the whaling boats. There are several companies based here. Rohan insists on waving us off. It’s whale watching Sri Lankan style. The boat is packed, we need to take of our shoes and we get a life vest. Hopefully we won’t need it. We go to the upper deck and get seats in the back. And unbelievable but true, we spot two familiar faces, our ‘friends’ from Holland. What are the chances? They decided to join us in the back row and as we keep on bumping into eachother we finally get to know eachother’s name. They are Rene and Miranda and obviously they also love to travel.
Meanwhile, more people keep on coming onto the boat and we get offered tea with a ginger cookie, which is supposed to be good against sea sickness. Another standard offering is a pill against sea sickness, but I don’t want it. I don’t know what they are giving us so I just hope I don’t need it. Sometime after 7 we finally leave the harbour, and head towards the open ocean. The crew is very friendly and they keep an eye out at every corner of the boat to spot whales. Again, we are not the only boat out on the sea this morning. It’s not as bad as the Yala traffic jam for the leopard, but I can see how fully packed all the big boats are. I can only hope they are well maintained. It takes a while before we see anything and ofcourse the typical human behavior of getting up at the first hint and leaning toward one side of the boat manifests itself. Only, this boat is so full that you cannot move around freely, you’re stuck to your seat, so if everyone gets up the result is that no one gets to see anything. I try to see the humor in it. If you just go ‘ohhh!’ and pioint towards a certain point you could get a whole boat to look with big expectations. We get a few glimpses of whales in the distance, but it’s hard to make much of it to be honest. The crew is nice though and with their trained eyes they make some photos with our cameras. Still, I prefer to see the whales with my own eyes, a bit closer. We only get that by the end of our boat trip. Big round of aplause. Clearly this is what the crew was waiting for to finally head back to the harbor.
All in all, not such a good day for whale watching, but again, it’s stupid to be disappointed over something you can’t control anyway. And it was an experience in any case :-) We get our shoes back and get of board, saying goodbye to Rene and Miranda. We spot Rohan who managed to park the car somewhere decent. It’s very warm by now and we can see the fishermen making nets and bringing in their fish to put it in ice trucks. We see a giant tuna fish and a shark. I wonder if they are allowed to catch a shark anyway.
Rohan gets us safely back to Galle Fort where we will spend the rest of our Sunday. We take it very easy and have a late lunch at the Pedlar Inn café. Excellent place to do some people watching and the food is great. We observe a few single travellers who are just reading a book or doing some writing out on the terrace. With a cold drink and some good food we feel refreshed and energized again to explore some more of Galle. We walk through several points of interest in town and also observe some locals by the water. A group of kids is taking swimming lessons, teens are meeting up in the park to do some kissing under umbrellas (in Sri Lanka it’s not really done to show affection in public, it’s funny to see all thos umbrellas under the trees) and apparently there is also a big party going on judging by the loud music coming from a building just outside the city walls. We ask a tuk tuk driver about it. “Oy yes, in Sri Lanka any time is good for a party, even Sunday afternoon,” he laughs. When he hears we are from Belgium he says he loves our national football team the Red Devils. Funny :-)
We continue our walk, enjoy a yummy gelato, and spot a lovely house for sale. It’s currently a shop and our imagination runs wild as we try to imagine what it would be like of you could turn a beautiful historic property into a guesthouse. We will never know!
The sunset is moody again, but we sit on the ramparts for a while anyway. An older man approaches us and starts a friendly conversation but I can sense it will lead to a question about money as he’s informing if we still study or work etc… Turns out he needs money for an operation on his eyes (also he claims) but we tell him we don’t give money. He stays friendly anyway and wishes us a good evening. Just by the coastline we spot a woman in bikini who managed to climb a big rock and can’t get back down. Her husband or boyfriend is trying to help her, but it takes ages for her to finally come down. The things tourists do J We feel a few raindrops, but it’s really just that. They haven’t had rain in a long time. “Maybe it will rain in April”, that’s what someone said. Well, maybe, just maybe, the sun will shine sometime in April in Belgium. We’re starting to feel a bit nostalgic as the last part of the journey kicks in and tomorrow is our last real day on the road before we reach a beach hotel where we will spend the last two nights.
For dinner we walk around the streets and finally go inside the Heritage Café. There’s a housecat with two kittens and they nestle themselves at my feet. Gives us some entertainment. The food is good, service very friendly and we say goodbye to Galle as we walk back to our hotel, the lovely Fort Printers.