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Archive for September, 2004

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The Ship

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

I’ll be away for a few days, so this is the last ‘Whales of Trincomalee’ instalment for a week or so. I’ll see what’s going on in London instead. Can’t wait — aaahh — I can almost smell the smoke from here!

Shortly after, I was introduced to the harbour master, a somewhat abrupt but kind man whose graying beard gave the impression of the archetypical old seadog. Fittingly, he seemed slightly drunk.
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The fool’s errant

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

The T-shirt was worth its weight in gold. It was light and airy and, more importantly, I now looked presentable. So at two, I set off on the freshly oiled bike to seek out the offices of the United Nations Development Agency which I had spotted from the bus from Colombo. There was still time before I was due at the Port Authority and it would be a good opportunity to find out more about the current situation in the area. Also, they might be able to provide a local contact for UNEP which I knew had been involved in the National Marine Mammal Program, NARA had run in the eighties. There had been a representation of NARA in Trincomalee but I expected them to have left the area.
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Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

So far, I had gotten by with a mixture of English and sign language, but back at the bus station, I was out of luck. A group of young men tried their best to help me out, but they did not even understand my pronounciation of “Upuveli”. Eventually, they indicated a clapped-out old van and I climbed in. Then there was a discussion with one of the drivers and they waved me back out again. A few more yelled exchanges and they told me “No bus.”
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Trincomalee (part3)

Monday, September 27th, 2004

The hostel was not as bad as I had feared. At dawn, I spotted only one geriatric cockroach which was slowly crawling towards the next room. It swayed and weaved because it was missing two legs on one side so it may well have flown during the night — I had felt something whizzing past my ears just before falling asleep. I could not afford to worry about that now and left the thing alone. If I killed it, it would only attract others.
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Trincomalee (part2)

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

As we approached Trincomalee, the vegetation thinned and the landscape became more arid. On either side of the road, large swathes had been cleared of shrubs and trees as an anti-ambush measure during the long war between government troops and the LTTE , the ‘Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’. Now, with a ceasefire in place for almost two years, the plants were slowly growing back. A few remaining large trees stood out, many of them in the grip of the banyan fig (Ficus benghalensis), their trunks encaged by the roots of the parasite who was slowly strangling them.
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Trincomalee (part1)

Friday, September 24th, 2004

This is a brutally honest blog entry, but then it is a brutally honest blog :} — based on the actual travel journal. So here goes:

I awoke from colourful dreams, swimming with whales and dolphins in an ocean world straight out of the Nemo Universe. It made me wonder whether our drinks had been spiked.

John didn’t stir as I kissed him good-bye.
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The snake

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Not surprisingly, we needed to recover from our little stroll. My feet had swollen overnight, much to John’s alarm who thought I had contracted a tropical disease. I told him that it was probably filiariasis which can make them swell to the size of elephant’s feet, that it is incurable and that if I had it, he would get it too. I think he believed me until the same thing happened to A a few days later.
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Jerk chicken with rice & peas

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Jerk chicken with rice & peas are of course Jamaican; but for me they (and curried goat and saltfish patties…) will always be associated with New Cross, SE London — the only place I ever called home as an adult.
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Stray Dogs and Drunken Geckoes

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

I blinked into the blazing sunlight and surveyed the lush tropical greenery from the bedroom window. We had arrived. Time to explore. John wanted a day of rest, but I was having none of it. “We have come half way around the world”, I scolded “and over the next few weeks you will lock yourself away to work on your software. Fine. I’m going to find the whales. But at least let’s go for a quick walk!” So, reluctantly, he trudged along.
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On the Road again

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

It is disappointingly easy to adjust to being back. Already, the journey seems like a colourful dream. Now and then, when I close my eyes, I see flashes of sunlight so bright it is dazzling, silhouettes of palm trees against a blue sky, radiant white teeth flashing a smile, the bright colours of a sarong against chocolate brown, muscular legs — there were some fine specimens among those men… But when I open my eyes again to the familiar gray of the Scottish sky, it is as if I had never been away.

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