Wednesday 19 August 2009

Morning at Negombo

We landed in Colombo late at night, at an airport that is as old as I am, hoping the coach would arrive quickly and whisk us away to our hotel so our holiday could begin.

After a 15-minute ride through dimly lit streets, we arrived at the Goldi Sands beachfront hotel, bleary eyed and disoriented. The kids were tired and fell asleep soon on the comfortable beds.

I woke to the sound of crows in the morning and withdrew the curtains to find them frolicking in the sun. In the distance, a procession of fishing catamarans was returning from the sea.

After a night of rest, Negombo began to look very charming in the morning light. Even the hotel lobby was beautifully painted to resemble the ocean floor.

During my morning walk along the coast, I didn't see any tourists. Apparently, the fine sandy beaches of Negombo have been mostly unexplored as most tourists use the town for the first or the last night of their stay in Sri Lanka.

Negombo was once a trading port for Portugese and Dutch.
Today, the fishermen of the Negombo lagoon live in abject poverty in small, thatch palm villages, relying on traditional knowledge of the seasons for their livelihood.

A typical house by the shore.

Using outrigger canoes carved out of tree trunks and nylon nets, the fishermen bring in modest catches from September through till April. The brightly painted boats are said to have originated in the islands off the Mozambican coast, brought to Sri Lanka by Portuguese traders in the 17th century.

Boat coming in with fishes.

Fishermen gathering around to sort out the catch.

The bigger ones were sold in the market.

The smaller ones were dried in the sun.

Watching the fishermen hard at work was an eye opening experience. There we were, in the cosy cafe, munching on french toasts and bacon while watching the fishermen baking in the sun, working so hard to make a can be so unfair sometimes.


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