Our days here seem to start early.
We wake up with the light and the sounds of the birds. And the occasional bark of the dogs. And sometimes the deep growl of monkeys.
There is one dissonant sound, though. The tune of “its a small world after all” or “santa claus is coming to town” are the tunes of choice of the little bread tuk tuk truck that makes the rounds most mornings delivering fresh bread, samosas and lentil cookies. There is no way, to sleep through that annoying jingle.
So we are awake. It’s not yet 6 a.m. Understand, we are both night owls by nature and by choice, but so far in Sri Lanka, we are early to rise.
Let’s go for a morning walk and see what we discover in our immediate neighborhood….
The sun has not been up long. It casts a soft peachy glow over the newly sowed rice paddies around the corner from our house.
The area around us has a distinctly rural feel. Most of the ‘traffic’ consists of mopeds, tuk tuks, bicycles, people walking, and the occasional car.
All the bicycles look like this one…. remnants from days gone by…
The tropical vegetation is rich and lush. The air is crisp this early in the morning.
A rather strange looking tree catches the morning sun rays.
A little boy on his too big rather antiquated bicycle riding past the banana plants.
The dried banana tree leaves create interesting sculptural forms, remindful of those of bamboo.
One of the many houses tucked away behind the lush foliage, along our walk.
This might look like purely decorative street art to the uninitiated, but it is in fact Sinhalese language signage.
Behind the scooter on the left, is a small typical road side shop selling vegetables and or other basics.
The day starts slowly, at least in our tucked away rural enclave. Five minutes away is a busy main road of constant traffic where local buses dominate in their haste to get to the next stop along their Southern route.
After a morning walk where we discover the ‘world’ to our left, the next time we head out in the afternoon, we turn to explore the world to our right…
This vista is directly across the road from our house. A lot of jungle has been cleared and we are hoping that there will not be any building activity. The open space has become a great place for kids to play cricket (the national sport here.)
A neighbor’s house.. If you zoom in, you can spot a monkey on the roof on the left hand side. We watched as a group of monkeys swing through the trees and scamper over the roof .
There are a few dilapidated small older structures such as this one. For some reason they captivate me visually. They seem deserted for the most part and are a throw back in time. This might make a good juice bar spot though….
Our nearby neighbors ~ Amicable and colorful in their polka dots.
On our walk, we stumble upon a beautiful Buddhist temple close to our house and this explains the chanting we often hear at random times.
A picturesque scene of whitewashed walls, ceramic red tiles, emerald green palm trees and a blue blue sky.
The white domed roof of the stupa punctuates the blue sky with its central spire. We are discovering through our readings that it is not just that Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country. Sri Lanka was in fact a major platform in the dissemination of Theravada Buddhism throughout the region, playing a critical role as a result of the erudite monks whose teachings emanated throughout.
The white building with blue doors is a one roomed school house for boys and girls to learn the principles of Buddhism.
Students sit very silently working, in their crisp white cotton outfits and in the girls case, ribboned pigtails.
In the silence, this student hears the sound of my footsteps and looks up from her studies for a few seconds.
Three very shy little girls in the temple courtyard enjoy posing for their photograph to be taken.
Two young monks welcome us as we walk around the interior of the temple, answering questions and showing us with great pride their 300 year old temple which they are honored to be studying at.
The temple is an oasis of calm and the interior is completely covered with 300 year old murals which are in amazingly good shape. (Some have been restored and there are some in their original state)
A ceiling of white, pink and peach lotus flowers adorn the ceiling. Not only beautiful, in Buddhist symbolism, the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speed and mind. While rooted in mud “its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. Thus it is a symbol of detachment as drops of water slide of its petals.”
One of the unique features of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka is the combination of murals on the walls and 3D sculptures which seem to emerge out of the paintings.
One of the murals is of Siddhartha and his mother having survived a shipwreck. Siddhartha gets assistance from the goddess on the left. Ben asks the monks “Who is this goddess?”. The monk answers “An Indian goddess of course.” In one simple exchange, here it was, Buddhism in Sri Lanka is Theravada Buddhism i.e. from Indian lineage.
And as we walk along… lo and behold… here comes the ubiquitous tuk tuk. And off we go, for 75c we have a “taxi” ride to the nearby Wijaya beach.
And in a tuk tuk flash, we are transported from the jungle to the beach. We live after all at the Southern tip of a pearl shaped tropical island, itself perched at the tip of the Indian subcontinent.