Our driver had some issues getting to the guesthouse we were staying at. Getting to the town of Hikkaduwa was no problem, but finding the guesthouse proved more difficult! We weaved around, and up and down a bunch of dirt roads. Every tuk-tuk driver he passed he asked for directions. The only streets with legible signs were the main streets. The rest of the streets didn’t need signs – cuz you know – everyone knows the streets except out-of-towners!!!
We wheeled up and saw a beautiful main house and guesthouse. White stucco, big balconies, dark mahogany wood, terracotta floors. The guest house was run by a local Sri Lankan family. Surrounding the land the houses sat on were coconut trees, thriving Bougainvillea, and hibiscus flowers. Animals you may see during your stay were neighborhood dogs, monitors (those scared me a bit) and monkeys. The monkeys were the most entertaining visitors. We often saw them jumping around in the late afternoon from tree to tree on the grounds.
Getting our bags out of the car, we hurled our bodies up the stairs and threw ourselves on the bed against the fresh linen. It’s so easy to fall asleep in an AC room when the hum of the AC sounds like ocean waves. We typically try to stay up when we get somewhere to get used to the new time. Alas, we were so tired having been up for 24+ hours. There was no use in trying and we fell fast asleep.
We woke up around 3pm and were greeted by our host family inviting us for some afternoon New Year’s snack and tea. How sweet it was to partake in this unexpected offering. The host mom had made a delicious coconut rice and fish stew dish in honor of New Year’s. We felt like zombies but were so grateful for a little snack and Ceylon tea to wake us up. We probably seemed a bit weird cuz we were so out of it, but we tried our best to not appear too jetlagged. We spoke about Buddha – they had a beautiful buddha statue in their home for religious purposes. We also spoke about batiks and found out our host mom made them. She shared that we’d have to check them out at some point during our stay.
After our snack we wanted to get down to the beach to see the ocean. We walked about 10 minutes on dirt roads, past local corner stores and houses. On the way we saw lush gardens, palm trees, monitors, flowers and stray dogs. We also saw a train cross the tracks near the main street of town.
Once at main street we walked on the beach and saw all the tourists and locals out and about on New Year’s. Everyone seemed to be moving at a slower pace after the previous night’s celebrations.
We walked the beach till sunset. After sunset we walked to one of the many restaurants on the beach. Neela’s was our choice. It was the first time we got to try “Papadam” which quickly became a staple of our daily diet in Sri Lanka. Think of papadam as a Sri Lankan tortilla chip. It’s a large, crispy chip with air bubbles on the surface that have been fried up and give it a fun shape. It is sprinkled with salt and a bit of pepper. Our waiter served it to us as an appetizer with a side of mango chutney to dip it in. This went great with beer!
It was easy to enjoy our first night in Sri Lanka while looking out on the ocean with our toes in the sand.