Weekly Writing Challenge – Easy As Pie. A Whale’s Tale – Sri Lanka
A Whale’s Tale
A long time ago a good friend painted an oil of her trip to Sri Lanka. The canvas was filled with bright evocative daubs like juicy fruit colours so enticing that my mouth watered when I looked at it.
Many years later I visited the country myself and found it to be everything that that painting evoked. Mirissa, in Sri Lanka has a lush, soft tropical interior found beyond the brick buildings and tin roofs. Exploring this area is like biting through the hard shell of bitter dark chocolate and discovering the sweet juicy strawberry redness within that tantalises the senses and gives extreme pleasure. It also has a beach that puts the ‘a taste of paradise ’ in bounty bar’s old advert to shame, good food, a laid back low-key vibe and cheap whale watching trips and ,having never seen a whale in its natural environment before, I was keen to go on a tour. We booked into an old house off the beach which had a great garden, nice rooms, good views, very friendly hosts and planned to check out boat prices the next day.
On the first night of our stay the worst storm in years hit the area. Lightening bolts speared down into the garden like missiles, exploding on contact and burning the ground. Winds howled with the voices of a hundred hounds and smashed debris against the buildings. A a deluge of water poured down from the skies. Our bedroom roof leaked badly and soon there were streams of water running down the walls, out the door and along the balcony before cascading down the stairs to the ground. Victoria Falls could have not been more spectacular that night. Unable to sleep due to the thunderous noise, a fear of being struck by lightning and beds that were too damp to sleep on (we did try) we hunkered down on the balcony and watched the storm play itself out.
When the sun rose, soggy, tired and shell shocked we sloshed downstairs to find blackened trees, blasted bushes, flattened flowers and shrubs – it was like a scene from a disaster movie. As a consequence of being wet for hours I developed a severe head cold which was persistent and took days to recover from. Whale watching was put on hold and I spent time recuperating on the beach (tough I know). Over a period of several days we struck up conversations with different people including a German guy who had sourced a reasonably priced, good quality whale watching trip. This trip was unique in that it guaranteed if no whales were spotted the first time they would take you out again for free. Never one to pass on a good deal, despite having blocked ears and still feeling a bit crap, I signed up.
Walking onto the ship, the captain asked me if I got seasick. Now, I’ve been on ferries in storms where most of the passengers were throwing up, sailed yachts and speed boats in bad weather and ridden a boat in such bad conditions I thought we were done for and have never been ill. Looking like a smug parrot I replied that I was a good sailor. An hour out and one meal down, the captain who was a whale nut and loved his job produced sea charts, pictures and gave a very comprehensive talk on the whales we were likely to spot. The boat stopped and started to roll in the waves. I started to feel unwell and rapidly went downhill. The captain seeing my discomfort very politely and with a grin as wide Alice’s as Cheshire Cat asked me if I wanted an omelette. It was payback time. I lay down at the back of the boat and was joined over the ensuing 4 hours by various passengers and a member of the crew who were beginning to feel the effects of a combination of roiling boat and egg based food. As they started to throw up (including the crew member) I started to feel less like a wimp.
Our leader, who was by now enthusiastically following a whale and her calf in an attempt to give us as much exposure time as possible, lost track of time. Under any other circumstance an extended trip would have made me as happy as a dog in a tree filled park but being sick I yearned for solid ground. Six hours after the journey began I was granted my wish. Staggering off the boat, I vowed not to be so cocky in future. The captain realising that I’d not seen any whales due to my inability to stand in the boat without throwing up offered to take me out the next day and try again. I blanched so white I looked like a floured flounder. Assuring the captain that I had seen a whale tail or two I declined his offer and headed off for the security and the rock solid stability of my bed.