So here is the score Moby Dick 6 – “Ahab” Niester 0. That is right folks I’v been shut out in Sri Lanka too. That makes the following shutout locations:
- Phillipines – no whale sharks, other friends on tour saw them
- Sharm El Sheikh – no whale sharks, other ship saw them
- Maldives – snorkelers saw them, divers didn’t
- 3x Trincomalee, Sri Lanka – three days of brutal boating and no sightings.
But first lets say so long to the Maldives. It was good to me all things said, I had some lonely times but they were very short indeed. I met some great folks… Scots, Itallian, Israeli, German but most importantly Maldivian.
Here are some of my last sights of the island known as Vakarufalhi.
The trip out was at last somewhat easy. Of course it didn’t start that way. The hotel wanted to charge me $70 to go all of 15 minutes across the water to Digurah. That was highway robbery. So my dive instructor and new friend Davide to the rescue. I see him at dinner and am telling him this story and he says, call this number it should be $27 all the way to Male. I’ll be damned if that didn’t work completely. Score one for making friends with the locals.
At the airport, I gave in to my worst urges. Burger King, Dairy Queen and Air Conditioning. You see I couldn’t get through security until the checkin counters opened and that wouldn’t happen until 1pm… it was 11am when I arrived at the airport. So I needed somewhere to wait and eventually the temptation of a real whoper wore me down. I should have known better, it tasted like cat meat I think.
Finally through, chill in the Korean Air lounge and onto the plane. Oh did I mention that NOBODY asked me to empty my backpack .. finally reasonable security.
Welcome to Sri Lanka
Then I’m here. Things still rolling smoothly. I’m off the plane, zip through customs and imigration and I’m in the arrivals hall. A quick stop at the ATM (a LOT of apprehension here!) and a huge sigh of releif. Money in hand! Over to the Mobitel stand for a SIM card and bango bingo that is up and running no questions.
What is going on this is too easy 😉 Well you know that it cannot stay COMPLETEY easy. I can’t find the driver I arranged. He’s not in the arrival hall so outside I go.. nothing out there. I’m harangued very polietly by a 12 yr old with an automatic weapon to move along so I head back inside to check there again. Finally I reach Sashaan and he gives me my drivers details. After a couple of I’m standing here.. I’m standing here.. who’s on first moments on the phone we finally connect
His license plate said “fresh” and he had dice in the mirror!
His license plate said “fresh” and he had dice in the mirror! OK, it didn’t say “fresh” but he did have dice in the mirror and he was pretty cool. Which was good because I had 6 hours in the car with him. We did a lot of chatting but there is only so much in broken english that you can communicate so eventually I succumb to the fact that I was up at 4am and take a nap.
I wake up and he offers to stop for some food. I think that sounds good so into a “Food City” he pulls. Its the local grocery store. Well, I’ll just buy some snacks.. diet coke.. snickers.. pringles and spiced local cashews. Dinner of champions.
But he wasn’t happy with that as he said he needed something “spicy” to eat so he stops at a roadside shop and invites me in with him. He orders me some food too and I have no idea what it is that he is ordering. It turns out it is some hash of chicken, roti (flatbread) and vegetables. It is scrumptious and hits the spot.
Then back on the road in the dark weaving around trucks, honking horns, drifting into oncoming traffic the way only the developing world can … all from the left side of the road.
And then I’m at the hotel. Its about 11:30 at night and the town is mostly rolled under ground. But I’ll find out later that the hotel is just mostly empty. The hotel greets me wonderfully and it is really rather grand looking. They upgrade me to thier suite and the room is huge with a full sized hot tub in the bathroom.
I look at my note from Sashaan about whale snorkeling and I have to be at the shop at 5:45am tomorrow. I have no idea how I’m getting there so that means I need to be out the door at 5:15 at the latest. I promptly pass out on my bed.. or I try… Morpheus don’t be shy, I’m yours, take me!
So I unpack and watch an episode of M*A*S*H then I finally relax enough to fall asleep.
The Seas Were Angry My Friend
Welcome to the crack of light and the start of my quest to go look for the blue whales. To facilitate this quest for them we have a pilot, Thileep, who barely speaks english and me in a 25 foot boat with a 5 foot beam. Its blowing 15-18 knots out and yes the seas were angry my friend. But no there was no whale.. injured or otherwise. There were some really cute dolphins that I swam with but they were very skittish and the second I got on the water they dove deep and out of sight mostly.
What I really saw were waves, waves and more waves. 5-7 foot waves. And our little SS Minnow was being driven like it was running from the demons of hell through those waves. Dr. Dan, I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t knocked a few fillings loose for you to fix.
Through 5 hours of this .. three days in a row.. no whales. Possible renal damage from smacking into the waves. I’m telling you I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. I give up, the whales win.
The big highlight is the two tank dive we did in shallow waters in teh afternoon of the second day. There were several nice stingray’s, eel and a good lionfish. But visibility was poor and the dive overall was incredibly anticlimatic in comparison to the glory of the Red Sea and the Maldives.
Some random views from the beach, dinner at night and lunch.
So Lets Call It A Bust
I’m calling Trincomalee a bust and moving on. Tomorrow I head to the mountains where it will be blessedly cooler (I can’t take the heat anymore) and it should allow me to slowly work my way back to Colombo for my flight home.
I hope I’ll have better blog posts from the hills, but as you can probably tell I’m a little down at the moment having been shut out by the whales and all alone in a big ole resort again.
A Commentary On Terrorism
Speaking of being alone. Let me just go on an aside and say the victim’s of the terror bombings on Easter Sunday go well beyond those immediately hurt. I am finding that this is supposed to be peak season for tourism with hotels full to bursting. Instead, people are shuttering their businessses and firing their employees because nearly everyone cancelled their hoilday here. It really breaks my hear to see what one very very small group of people can do with an act of senseless violence.
These are good people. Christians, Hindus, Buddists and Muslims. For the most part they lived in peace and harmony. Now the Muslim’s are penned in their neighborhoods from fear of reprisal. Tourists stop coming. Businesses fail. Everyone is hurt… why why why. I just don’t get it.
With that not so cheerful note I’ll just say this. The Sri Lankan people have been incredibly welcoming, friendly and open. I have not felt unsafe, unwelcome or anything uncomfortable. If you have the chance come and visit. I expect I’ll have great experiences to share from the mountains.