This past week was a week of firsts… our first night in our new home, our first animal sightings, first morning walk, and of course our first time to try out the bath tub.
So before we normalize into our new lives, it is important for us to chronicle these “firsts”.
Our first peek at the infamous industrial sewer pipe bathtub…
Climb on in. Test out the size. Plenty space and nice and long for tall people. How cool is our new orange bathtub?!
And yay, look at that ~ it works! We have a tub to soak in, outside AND it has hot water to boot. (After a few tweaks to the plumbing system…) Looking rather bare of course, but in due time, there will be some first plantings. The view while lying in the tub is rather incredible of course, looking up into the tall tree tops and at night, there is the added drama of the moon and the stars.
First walk on the straw flooring
The straw mat floor solution ~ worked out perfectly. The floor is soft to the touch and to the feet, just like a tatami mat floor. There is a layer of rubber between the cement and the straw mats. Totally comfy.
First lanterns….. up!
Inside those boxes are Ben’s (fragile) ceramic lanterns that he sculpted in Hoi An. Did they survive the journey? (From Viet Nam to Kuala Lumpur to Dallawale).
“Glass half full, half empty” scenario ~ half of the ceramic lanterns are fine, and half are broken. Pretty much the ratio we expected…. So we end up with 7 very unique lanterns for the house.
The ones that DID make it though, look GREAT! We have two outside the front door, one in the living room and enough for the entire bathroom garden.
After living for a month in Hoi An, Viet Nam with a world class fruit and veg market just minutes from our doorstep, we were a tad apprehensive about our adjustment to what the fruit and veg food source might be like in South Sri Lanka. We needn’t have worried…. all is well. Plenty of fresh fruit available everywhere.
Mango and lemon bananas. Both super sweet. Score! The fruit stands are plentiful ~ papaya, pineapple, mangoes, passion fruit, watermelon, 2 types of bananas, coconuts……
First walk in the neighborhood
We wake up in our new nest and the view from our bedroom is really spectacular. Lush green jungle and palm tree trunks. The first thing we do, is go for a walk to explore a bit and get the feel of our new “neighborhood”.
What will we see? How does it feel? What is around us?
The main bedroom (created out of 2 rooms by knocking out a wall), now has 2 French doors which open up to a rich eco system right outside our doors. This is the view from our bed.
Take a few steps outside ….. I have dreamt of being surrounded by nature and now here it is. Fresh air, the sounds of life at night ( such as crickets and frogs) and the sounds of a variety of birds in the morning and towards end of day.
Right next to our house on one side is a mini jungle and then a clearing, shown here, where the little roadway is flanked by rice paddies on either side.
The paddy fields are right at the start of a new rice planting cycle. A few farmers are just starting to plough them. We are pretty pleased with the fact that these fields are frequented by cattle egret and a few grey herons and we have our own bird park around the corner. The egrets flock in large numbers when the fields are wet and even more so when the ground gets tilled, which reveals easy access to their food source.
A Sri Lankan white cattle egret, with its creamy chest and head plumage.
A group of neighborhood teenage boys chilling on the side of the roadway with their bicycles.
It is monsoon season in Sri Lanka.
A few days after we arrive, the rain starts. There is a steady hard rain all night long, and then an on and off flow for days. It rains hard. The rain is warm and noisy.
Our roof leaks. A lot. Not “a lot” in anyone one place, but rather consistently all over. Drops into the bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen. It is like sleeping with someone spraying a light mist of fresh water, on and off. At some point we will have to do something about it, but for right now, it is not a priority (strangely enough.)
The rice fields that are around the corner from our house, turn into lakes overnight.
Flooded rice paddy.
Hard to believe this is a rice field and not a lake. After the rain ceases, it takes a day for the rice field to drain.
A rainy sky of slate blue gray over the Indian Ocean ~ 10 minute motor bike ride away from our house. We sit at a cafe, with our feet up and enjoy the cloud formations, colors and sounds of the waves. Sri Lanka in the rainy season has its own beauty.
First animal sightings
If you know us or read us, you know how much animals are part of our lives and we really enjoy living in places where we can interact with animals on a regular basis.
We are super surprised to see this guy crossing the pathway, just around the corner from our house. Monitor lizard is the common name of several large lizard species ~ a total of 79 species. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws and the species CAN be as long as ten feet (in the case of the Komodor dragon, in Indonesia.) This Sri Lankan lizard was about 3 feet long. Plenty long! (Peta). Ben however is quite the fan of this creature.
Over the first few days, we hear the unmistakable roar of monkeys nearby. It takes about a week before we actually see them ~ in the trees right outside our front door, checking us out as much as we are them! The group of Grey Langurs that visits has about 4 adults, and one baby clinging on for dear life as her mom swings from branch to branch. (They are definitely larger and noisier than Nicaraguan monkeys.)
Black faced and about 2 ft large, the Gray Langur species’ habitat stretches from the Himalayas in the North to Sri Lanka in the South and from Bangladesh in the East to Pakistan in the West.
Northern Plains Gray Langur, Semnopithecus entellus, Sri Lanka, Asia. (Photo credit unknown)
We have also spotted a few wild peacocks, walking majestically with their bright blue chests through the rice paddy, taking flight onto the branches of nearby palm trees. We hear them every now and again, from our bedroom, in amongst the regular bird calls. (Photo credit unknown)
There always seem to be at least a few cows either roaming around the rice paddy area or tied with a rope on the side of the street path.
One morning this shiny black calf casually walked past our front door…. Here he is in the jungle area on the one side of our house. The neighboring area is a combination of patches of jungle and patches of agriculture, with houses along the side of the street way.
Meeting a kitty and her owners along one of our walks.
Goats roaming next to fishing boats, on the side of the main road that goes to Fort Galle, from our house. Of course, we have to stop to say hi. “Can we have a goat?”
First yoga class at yoga shala
We found the yoga shala before we found the house.
On our trip here in January we were on the lookout for what area we might enjoy living in. Colombo the capital city was not an option for us, even though that is where most of Ben’s business meetings take place. We decided to scout out the Southern coastal tip ~ close enough to Colombo to get there in a couple of hours but far enough to have tranquility and space.
The setting of this 1 year old Sri Yoga Shala is so spectacular and the vibe so amazing, that we decided this would be the perfect area to find a house for us to rent for our move to Sri Lanka.
Right next to the yoga space is a stunning infinity SALT water pool. Having a uniquely beautiful yoga space AND a pool, within minutes from our house, is quite the treat!
We both love the vibrancy of food markets. No matter where we are in the world, this is often the first place we go to. Asian markets have not only the buzz of markets, but as well, we usually encounter new fruits and new vegetables that we might not have seen or tried before.
Markets are also the center of commerce at its most authentic. They are great for people watching and for easy first interactions with locals, no matter where we are.
Piles of vegetables, such as these baby aubergine, are stacked up at neighborhood markets.
Bright lime green peppers, leafy leeks contrast against the earth colored sarong of the shop keeper. The colors of Sri Lanka permeate the market.
A vegetable store window reflects a section of the street above the stored yellow gas tanks.
Note the Sinhalese language, below the veggies, all curvy and rather unique looking. We have zero understanding of how this language works, as of right now.
A man carrying his daughter in one arm and selecting vegetables for the family dinner.
Galle has a covered central market for vegetables ~ often arranged in upward slopes of squares creating a patchwork effect of colors.
Have no idea (yet) what those long thing green vegetables are. Anyone recognize them? Some kind of okra maybe?
Banana flower, like in Viet Nam, is part of Sri Lankan cuisine. (On the left, those dark purple tear dropped thingies.)
OK. We have a pot, a pan and now we have vegetables. We are on a roll…. we can have our first home cooked meal in our house.
Our first antique exploration
The bathroom is nearing completion and we need a basin.
Hmmm, what can we find that is not conventional, yet aesthetic? We start a fun search each day en route to the beach or the market. There are a few interesting small shops and workshops lining the main road to Galle. At an antique store we find an old narrow door that we think will work perfectly as a counter top for a basin.
The antique store is full of treasures, but the trick is to find the “undiscovered” ones that aren’t seen as treasures to the owner and are therefore less expensive.
After we settle on the concept of an old door as a counter top for the basin, we head to the industrial sewer pipe place and there we find a concrete mould that we think will make a perfect basin!
This is one of those times when a tuk tuk is definitely easier than a motorbike. Door strapped on the top, basin in hand, we are ready to head back to the house with our finds….
Sanding down the old door to get rid of peeling paint and create a smoother surface before the door gets varnished (for protection from the rain.)
Ta da.. .and here it is. The basin and counter top in the garden bathroom.
First visit to a nursery
When we lived in Nicaragua, I (Peta) created two lovely gardens, one for our house and the other for our bamboo showcase house for our bamboo business. Both were created in areas where there really was nothing other than rubble. The process of creating a small garden is something I really enjoy and given that Sri Lanka has a tropical climate much like Nicaragua, it should not take too long before a garden gets “established”.
We had this exact tree with huge fluffy white flowers, outside our bedroom in Granada, Nicaragua. It brings back good memories and we buy another to plant in this home too.
We are looking for fruit trees, fragrant and flowering bushes and creepers. What fun! Ben fancies this orange hibiscus.
Creating brick pathways in the garden. Yellow brick road leads to … the yellow bath tub.
First plants are in… will take a while for them to grow into their new home, but it’s a start. The bricks will be partially sunken in the ground.
The bath is definitely big enough for two!
First motorbike ride to Galle
This is the main road from the Dawalawe/Unuwatuna area where we live, towards the historic town of Fort Galle (15 minutes). The road hugs the Indian ocean almost the whole way.
As we get closer to Fort Galle, we pass by the fishermen’s beach. At sundown one can watch as the fishermen pull the boats in after a day’s work in the ocean.
About 70% of Sri Lanka’s population is Buddhist. (The rest are 12% Hindus, 10% Muslim, 7% Christians and now, 2 Jews). Here a large Buddha sculpture outside a temple, is in the middle of the main shopping area in Galle.
The UNESCO world heritage site of Fort Galle, is just a 15 minute motorbike ride from our house.
The Portuguese-built ramparts are 500 years old. They served to protect the historic city very well during the devastating 2005 tsunami.
This beautiful wooden Buddha made its way into our home, courtesy of the spice man at the market. A buddhist welcome to our new life in Sri Lanka.