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 Sri Lanka







Since when we left Gibraltar, the Rally has organised periodical fund-raising events to collect money to help Sri-Lankan families hit by the Tsunami disaster of 4 years before; quite obviously, we were expecting to get a friendly welcome, to say the least.

The yachts at anchor in Galle's commercial harbour

Instead, the first disappointment came even before landfall, when the first boats arriving in port alerted by e-mail that the Navy patrol inspecting all incoming vessels for weapons (...) had been systematically robbing money for a total of several thousand dollars from purses and wallets left too much in sight, and that the scores of officials coming aboard were all requesting "bribes" in the form of cigarettes, beers and even helping themselves from the yachts' stores of expensive liquors...

The port itself turned out to be very inconvenient, almost everybody had to use the dinghy to go ashore even if moored to the very high concrete pier, and the noise was appalling, day and night, with all ships keeping their generators running.

As soon as one went out of the port gates, a group of service-providers and tuk-tuk drivers waited for us: many were among the beneficiaries of the Rally-distributed funds, so we were expecting at least to be treated fairly, but we soon discovered that they were all overcharging us, besides insisting to provide themselves (or their friends) every good or service we would have liked to choose on our own.









(left) a peculiar fishing technique, typical of this area, and (right) a close encounter with an elephant

The disappointment continued during the coach-trip around the country which had been organised by the Rally: the countryside is beautiful, and there are lots of interesting historical sites to be seen, but in all tourist places we were invariably assaulted by all sorts of vendors, all very insistent and asking for inflated prices.









(left) the ancient city-fortress of Sigiriya (5th century C.E.) and (right) the cave temple of Dambulla (12th century)









Kandy: (left) pilgrims in the Dalada Maligawa temple cueing in front of the sacred relic attributed to the Buddha and (right) a traditional dance

In a country where a Tamil woman must work 8 hours on a hillside, bent to pick up at least 20 Kg of tea leaves to earn the equivalent of 3 Euros, one gets enraged at the wardens of a so-called "elephant orphanage" who offer to take your picture near a 35-years-old "orphan" elephant (???...) and then insist that you give them a tip in Dollars or Euros!









(left) the steep hills of the Nuwara Eliya region, covered by tea plants and (right) a group of "orphaned" elephants taking a walk in the river

Sadly, this is also a demonstration of the disasters that western tourists can cause, having obviously spoilt these folks, as we already saw to a slightly lesser extent in Bali: they are obviously poor and it seems right to help them, but we have made a people of beggars out of them.

Speaking of the Tamil problem, obviously terrorism is never to be condoned, but the arrogant and discriminatory attitude of the Singhalese majority against a minority who lives in the country since thousand years is disconcerting.

In the end, most yachts left ahead of schedule, bound for the Maldives where we will have a short rest.



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Last Update: 21/09/2014

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