Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rambling around Galle

We ran around Galle (Sri Lanka) with a tuk tuk finishing up a few errands and stopped to visit the Galle Fort of 1588. Built by the Portuguese and Dutch, it stands guard at the Harbour's entrance. Within its ramparts is the Old Town, its buildings densely packed in the narrow streets.

Old Town Galle within Fort

Having received a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, a lot of the old colonial buildings have been restored to their original splendour offering eateries, boutique hotels, and shops. After a delicious lunch in the small Peddler's Cafe, we walked along the top of the old perimeter walls, at times looking straight down into the rugged sea.

Section of Fort Galle

Lighthouse in the distance

Within the Fort is also the National Maritime Museum which we strolled through. It was badly damaged in the 2004 tsunami but has since been renovated. Many of the Museum objects were never recovered. Actually in the south of Sri Lanka there was a tremendous amount of damage done and thousands died due to that tsunami.

Leaving the Fort, we hired a tuk tuk driver and tried to rent a car so we could travel up to the north end of Sri Lanka. (We wanted to see the fascinating Sigiriya, a massive sheer rock column of which you can climb the 1,200 steps to the ancient ruins of a palace and fortress. Check it out if you ever get here.)

Our driver took us everywhere and we only found 2 rental places still in business. Both were very expensive and charged extra for mileage, and as we are anxious to get sailing onwards, we decided against it.

Over the next couple of days, a few more sailboats came in. They too are on their way to the Med via the Red Sea. One old sea dog is 80 years old and has sailed several years on a boat he built completely himself. His dream was always to complete a circumnavigation so he decided to do a quick 2-year circumnavigation solo and is now heading home to his wife in Bulgaria. Never too late to realize your dreams!

Oodles of fishboats at harbour entrance

8 boats so far...

We had planned on having water delivered to fill our tanks (the harbour is too dirty to make water ourselves). But one afternoon, the skies turned dark and the lightning began and the clouds started dumping torrents. It poured. And poured. We almost felt like taking on animals in pairs! We opened up the deck filler caps to the water tanks, plugged up the scuppers, and let the flooded decks fill the tanks to overflowing.

Sri Lanka is known for the mining and production of many different gemstones. So with an excess of rupees (local currency), we went shopping. We found some interesting gems and purchased a few.

Still with extra rupees, we went out for dinner to the funky little beach town of Unawatuna, close to Galle. Love saying that name, kinda sounds like You Want A Tuna! We had a local cuisine, Sri Lankan Fish Curry, at a candlelit beach restaurant, and returned to Sea Turtle with almost no rupees.

It will be good to let off the ties to Galle as the scourge of mosquitoes that visit our cabin each night is enough to drive you mad. Even with screens, they find their way in...scratch, scratch, scratch. Along with a pack of 7 dogs and flocks of crows, all visiting the sea wall where boats are tied up to.

We let loose our lines February 1st after checking out with the officials to sail to a new destination for us, Uligan, a remote northern island of the Maldives in the NW Indian Ocean, with only about 600 inhabitants. Will it have internet? Stay tuned...

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