Monday, May 21, 2012

Picking up turtles!!

How lucky can you be!! On our second night in Marissa we went to have dinner at one of the restaurants on the beach. The tables are set in the sand and everyone is barefoot including all the waiters. It was a beautiful moonlit night and we were celebrating the beauty of the island. Chatting to the waiter about various matters, I asked had he seen any turtle activity. He was far more interested in talking about Cricket than turtles, when he noticed the dog was sniffing at something and yelled. All the staff came down and using their cellphone lights and we scrambled around picking up baby turtles.

They were difficult to see and we were nervous about standing on them. With the help of other dinner guests we managed to pick up about seventy babies.  These were put into a basin of sea water.

It is amazing to think that sea turtles have been roaming the world's oceans for  about 190 million years. There are eight of these ancient reptiles left, five of the species visit the beaches of Sri Lanka.

We were very concerned about the future of these little creatures as they are used kept and bred for their shells and flesh. However the staff reassured us that they were fully aware of the Protection Ordinance which Sri Lanka is party to and anyone found to be violating the conditions of the law would be imprisoned or fined.
Early the next morning Warren went to check on these little babies and later I went along only to be assured that release time would be at 11:00 a.m.

11:00 sharp we were there....a bit like the release of Nelson Mandela. We had told a few tourists en route and when the big moment came it was so special. We released them one by one and watched as the waves washed over them and they started out on their long journeys.

Farewell little buddies, swim carefully and keep looking over your shoulders!!

How fortunate were we to be in the right place at the right time.
The sad reality is that while these babies swim for the next two days very few will survive and grow to be adult turtles.

Two more areas were discovered that morning where Mothers had laid their eggs and these have been marked with little twigs. I said a special little prayer that the protection would be maintained and that when these turtles are hatched they will make it back to the sea.

Living in a History Book.

What a pleasure it is to wake up early and sit on the balcony of our delightful "Homestay" in Galle,(Galla), Sri Lanka. 

We are staying in the Fort which is a city on it's own. Galle is in the extreme S.W. corner of the island. The area within the walls covers 130 acres so it really is huge. It is home to churches, synagogues, shops, hotels, restaurants,offices etc. Many locals and expats live here and run business here. The original fort was built in in 1588 by the Portuguese then reinforced by the Dutch in 1649.

For me, it is like living in the middle of a history book. The original street names are still being used and these reflect the various influences in creating this unique place.

 I love the Fort and enjoy walking about with the camera and capturing little cameos of times gone by.

 The actual wall around the fort is mostly in a very good state and over the years has had to have a little work done on it.

 The top of the wall is a favourite walk for tourists and for locals. I was up very early today and watched hundreds of runners and walkers passing by on the wall, getting their daily exercise. Many folk get up when the Imam calls and after their early prayers take to the wall or the streets about the fort and do their daily exercise. How lovely to be out as the sun is rising and to feel safe and to be able to appreciate the beautiful day ahead.

 Sri Lanka was hard hit during the Tsunami of 2004 and there was damage to the fort area too. Unlike the coastal drive where one sees ruins from the devastation that took place there is little evidence around the fort.

Our Homestay is called Rampart View and is a stones throw from the wall. Benches are strategically placed on the roof for guests to enjoy the stunning view of the sun rising and setting over the city of the fort.

Some of the inhabitants of the fort are Sri Lankans, whose families have lived here for several generations and while walking around I was fortunate enough to be invited into a couple of local homes and could chat about life here in the fort.

 Sri Lankans love meeting South Africans and will say "Mandela" or "Jacque Kallas" to connect. Nelson Mandela is so revered everywhere we go and we bask in his glory.

 The famous Sri Lankan Cricket field is just outside the fort walls.

 One of the many tourist attractions is to pay one of these crazy young men to jump off this rock. I cannot even guess how high the rock is but I do know it is extremely dangerous. Yesterday a tourist couple gave in and paid this young fellow to jump. I did not manage to capture the jump on camera but I did see him do it. What people do for money!!

 A visit to the Museum.

 I popped into the museum yesterday and found it to be an auspicious occasion in it's history as it was opened exactly twenty years ago on the ninth of May! My guide was a charming fellow who had so many stories to tell. All the artifacts are owned by one man, who is an avid collector. Looking about at the amount of stuff he has collected made me feel a whole lot better about being a collector myself, in fact I would like to donate some of my things to this museum.

 Much of it is from Holland, China, Japan England, Sri Lanka and also off the shipwrecks.

The history of this country is so amazing with being a land of spices and gems and also being on the important trade routes. A wonderful book has been written called "Around the fort in eighty lives".

The author interviews and has articles on all the different folk who make up the vibrant community of the fort including many foreigners who live here and own businesses here.

We popped into the town of Galle to look at fabrics and get supplies but it was so hot! The normal temperature all year round is 30degrees which makes being out at midday just too hot. While many people come from the town to work here I don't think the fort folk go to town that often! Our landlady says she goes for supplies every ten days and the town is a cricket field away.

 The semi precious stone industry is very big in Sri Lanka, both for the local market and for export reasons. I was spoilt and have been given a cute little ruby to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary which happened in December, 2011.

 I really enjoyed the history, the peace, the beauty, the feeling of safety and friendliness of Galle.