It was 7 am on the 24th April when we left home for our trip to Sri Lanka. We had been invited by Pastor Sylvester to come and encourage the pastors in the Smyrna network of churches.
So our first stage was a 2 hour drive to Tamworth to catch a flight to Sydney. From there we would find a Malaysian Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur and thence to Colombo,
The journey was pretty much uneventful apart from a little turbulence coming into KL. We arrived at midnight, local time or 4.30 am Narrabri Standard Time- close on 24 hours travelling.
At the airport we were met by Pastor Kanne who leads the church at Negombo, which is a city adjacent to Colombo. He had arranged for our first night and day to be spent at a hotel near the beach.
We went for a walk down the road and eventually found an ATM- essential for retrieving some rupees. We then proceeded to the beach.
We wandered for a while. A catamaran owner invited us for a ride, but I was not really interested in adventure right then.
A fisherman calling himself Marcus came and chatted to us. He was very friendly, telling us about his catch the night before. He showed us the local beach-side fish market. Then he invited us to come and visit his house. I declined but he was quite insistent, so we followed him home.
There is a collection of about 15 houses of varying degrees of size and sophistication on the beach. Marcus told us that many of them had to be rebuilt since the tsunami. He found us some chairs and a table, complete with cloth, in the shade of a coconut palm. Then to my surprise he shimmied up the trunk and pulled down two coconuts. He proceeded to cut then stalks off them, pricked them with a pin to let out the excess pressure of the water inside. He cut the ends off and invited us to drink the water. It was very refreshing, although Josh would have preferred a Coke.
We thanked him for his hospitality and he showed us the way out. On the way he pointed out a shack that was obviously in need of repair. He told us that he wanted to repair the roof before the monsoons start, otherwise the children will get wet. He said 1200 rupees would buy the materials. I gave him 1,000.
I don't know if he was genuine or not, but he entertained us for half an hour and it only cost us $7.
After that we retreated to the air conditioned comfort of our hotel room and slept for a while longer.
Pastor Kanne then collected us at 6 pm to be his guests. The delights of being in a family environment and home cooking are a little diminished by a lack of air conditioning. At the moment, it is the equivalent of the Northern Territory's build-up where the days get hotter and more humid until the wet season breaks and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. We have a ceiling fan in the bed room and it runs at full speed all night.