Joel’s Sri Lanka Journal, Part 2

Friday, July 23

Up before dawn. 5:30 a.m. Everyone was tired, but I felt energized. Slept good the night before in the cocoon of a mosquito net. There’s nothing like a hot night, a ceiling fan, and a mossy net. That’s when you know you’re in the tropics.

Outside the English-speaking world, the word “Hello is the beginning of a sales pitch.

Tangent: The heat. No real way to cool down other than standing in front of the A/C at the internet café or going surfing. Both are only temporary solutions at best. The heat always returns.

Drove to check the main point and another right point called (name withheld) while it was still dark and somewhat cool. Both spots were small, so we headed one and a half hours south to (name withheld), the right point Ozzie surfs in 156 Tricks.

The drive there was through the bush. Animals everywhere. People living in total squalor.

Teasha has been a great person to travel with. She’s tough, sweet, observant, and motivated. Any other girl might not like the low-tech surroundings. She surfs well, too, and usually gets more waves than the guys during a given session.

So we got to (name withheld) (which Heit is calling Anaconda’s) around eight, and surfed for four+ hours. Really fun, head-high. Not great for the pros, but for me perfect.

In this area, a group of Buddhists are making a pilgrimage, and they’ve built a small city near the break. They come down to the beach and huddle around us, practicing their English, and staring at Teasha and our boards.

While people have been coming here to surf for years, the place hasn’t become a Bali. White people are a huge novelty on the east side, where only surfers travel.

Here I get my first taste of the Israeli surfers we’ve been warned about. The stories are right. They have very poor etiquette, constantly paddling inside us. Teasha gets pissed at that and dropped in on a bunch of them to prove a point.

Talked with two Israeli kids (17 and 18) who were on a trip before becoming soldiers, which is mandatory in that conflict-ravaged country. They looked nervous about it. I would be too. Met another Israeli (26 years old) who had done his army time then left for good. He hadn’t been home for five years. “It’s too much intense. I’m tired of so much fighting, he said.

“What up, Texas?–J. Heit to a Sri Lankan wearing a Dallas Texans hat.

Bought some drinks at tent city and drove home. Got back to Hideaway covered in dust.

Lunch at the little upstairs café down the street. Pizza. Checked e-mail. D. Hump stressed me out about boat money. Found out about Sherm taking Surfing mag job. Decided not to check e-mail too much more.

Four p.m. went back to fun, small right and messed around on tiny surf ’til dark.

Drove home through crowded streets where little kids run out into the road, yell, “bye or “hi, then run home laughing. They’re obviously amused by the novelty of us.

Dinner at the hotel. Fish, chicken, and potato curries, veggies, rice. Fruit for dessert. Watched “High Fidelity in our room after. Everyone fell asleep one hour in.

Called Cote at midnight to check on boat trip money. Went to bed.

Saturday, July 24

Woke at 5:30. Couldn’t find our guide, Siri (calling him “Seedy for obvious reasons). This guy is not a great guide–always late, unmotivated, and under-informed. Complaining about him is becoming what we do in the a.m. I think we’re all closer because he’s forcing us to. D. Hump hates him and I think it’s mutual.

Checked (name withheld) and (name withheld) only to end up back at (name withheld). My favorite. Everyone surfed, D. Hump shot. Small waves, waist to chest high.

(name withheld) is amazing. It’s almost the exact same setup as Byron Bay–a rocky outcropping that turns into a soft, sandy right pointbreak. Also similar because it can be under one foot and perfect.

We surfed for like three hours, and during one short period I caught four two-footers that each went 200+ yards.aybe the most fun session of my life. The Rich Pavel fish goes perfectly there. I understand why people who surf lots of pointbreaks love them. Dustin feels like he got some good fisheye water stuff despite it being small.

Packed up around one p.m. and headed home. Walked down to small upstairs café and had pizza again. Found out that the restaurant has fish netting all around it because two years ago someone threw a hand grenade into the café from the street, killing two. More signs of a recent violent past for Sri Lanka.

Relaxed for a bit, then headed to (name withheld) for a surf. Swell was the biggest I’ve seen it since getting here, probably 4-6 foot. The waves at (name withheld) are soft and easy and you can see why they attract a crowd of 15-60 at any given moment. The bottom is a rock reef that’s sharp and urchin encrusted.

Surfed for two hours, thought it was pretty shit. Soft waves, tons of kooks in the lineup. Really international crowd–Israelis, Japanese, Australians, English, South Africans, and Scandinavians. Very few Americans. Not sure why. Maybe Americans have given up on the world. That’s certainly what it feels like at home.

Was glad to be done with the session. Everyone eventually got out and we headed home, just a five minute drive.

Everyone went for a beer at Rasta Rick’s. Heit was cracking me up. He has a really quick wit. “I’ve got two words for you: really totally amazing.

After beer, had beef curry at the hotel, then went back to Rick’s for one more Lion beer and some smoke. Asleep around 10:30ish.

Forgot: Also spent an hour watching the sun set over the mountains, and checking the left wedge at the beach breaks.

Sunday, July 25

Up at 5:30 as usual. Everyone is quiet in the mornings. We had tea, loaded the boards and gear, and headed to (name withheld). The surf was bigger than when we’d surfed there two days before. Overhead on the sets but pretty mushy.

I was the first one out, around seven, and the last one in around 10:30. Very tired at the end.

The tropical heat is rough on the body, and we were all feeling the effects of having been in the sun. The others have been here a week longer than me, and they’ve worked hard, up almost every day at 5:30 and surfing for uncountable hours.

The surf was fun, and Joe Curren ripped. He has such good style–on par with Machado or his brother Tom. Very fun to watch.

After the surf, we bought some sodas, ate our sandwiches, and drove the one and a half hours home. Dusty!

Tried to go watch Anchorman at lunch, but had to go lay down under the fan. My body was overheating.

Passed out under the fan in our room and slept for an hour. Marlon came back to make sure I was okay. The heat here is truly oppressive, and what’s really bad about it is that it’s practically inescapable. No A/C except in the Internet café, fans are prevalent but they are often switched off to save electricity. The temp soars around nine a.m. from the high 70s to the mid 80s, but with humidity and limited wind it feels like 100+ degrees.

Woke up and worked on my computer for two hours. Downloaded first batch of photos, worked on story outline, and discussed ideas with D. Hump.

Went with Joe and Dustin into Potuvil to shoot photos. The town is small, dirty, and full of animals. Cows, monkeys, goats, birds, dogs, and cats everywhere. I was approached by an old Muslim man with a long white beard. He pointed to a cow that was ravenously eating a durian (type of smelly fruit) that had been discarded by a merchant and said, “Very hungry.

Me: “Why so hungry?
Him: “No rain.
Me: “Why?
Him: “I don’t know. You should ask Allah. Points to heaven.
Good point.

The town is experiencing the devastating effects of an eight-month drought. Potuvil is definitely the third world. There are flies and mosquitoes everywhere, and people stare at us like they see very few whites. Many of them approach us to introduce themselves. They’re very nice and love to smile. When young kids see us, they yell “Hi!

Returned to hotel, watched TV with Jeremy, D. Hump, Marlon, then showered and went to Rasta Rick’s for drinks and BBQ with everyone.

Drank a ton of beer, some arak punch, and other drinks. Ate marlin caught that day. Sat with Dustin, Joe, and Teasha and talked about photography and travel. Made plans to go to Iceland with Joe in late September for two weeks.

Everyone got pretty drunk, then we went across the street to a little bar/patio on the beach. People were fire dancing. Officially gave up on the idea of finding a woman here. All the hot ones are traveling with boyfriends. Whatever.

Joe and Teasha were drunk and funny. Joe came out of his shell a bit, egging me on to keep drinking.

We met some strange characters at the BBQ—lots of ex-pat types. Mostly English and Australian. You get a strong sense of how undiscovered Sri Lanka still is when you realize that all the tourists in town know each other.

Home around one a.m.

Monday, July 26

Slept in late for the first time in a week (first time in two weeks for the other guys). Up at 9:30. Everyone looks drained.

Breakfast—tea, fruit, toast, eggs.

By ten a.m. it’s scorching. Must be 90. Hottest since we’ve been here. The heat is stifling.

There’s a feeling that we’ve shot all the surf action we need, which is good because the surf is quickly going down.

Getting ready to go to the right point at (name withheld), I realize I’ve lost this notebook. I stress out, checking everywhere, and getting depressed that I lost something potentially important to the story.

Still bummed, Teasha, Joe and I went down and surfed. Knee high on the sets. The surf has dropped, and by one p.m. the wind was up.

On the way home, the Muslim schools were getting out and the streets were full of young kids in all lavender. They surrounded our truck saying, “hello and “what’s your name?

Such cute, smart, and happy kids smash the Bush administration’s painting of Muslims as haters of freedom. These are beautiful people who have dreams and loves. Fuck Karl Rove! In this place, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus live peacefully together.

When we got back, they had found my notebook by the TV. Very relieved!

Lunch at upstairs Thai place. Dustin and Joe left to go shoot photos of elephants. Teasha and I stayed and talked. I like her–she’s really cool.

Back to hotel to relax out of the heat, which at five p.m. is still sweltering.

Dinner at Stardust Beach Hotel. Nicer place on the North end of the Aragum Bay main strip. Dinner was beef and prawn curries, rice, and similar dishes to what we have every night. Everyone was tired from such a hot day. Went home and fell asleep watching Master and Commander on my computer.

Photo Idea: Collage of all the ex-pat locals D. Hump snapped with Fuji medium format.

Tuesday, July 27

Up early to shoot the left next to (name withheld) that Jeremy and Marlon found. Jeremy is the only goofy foot on the trip, and he’s dying for a left to surf. So after breakfast (eggs, toast, tea, fruit), we headed down, and Jeremy and Marlon surfed for an hour while Hump shot.

While the guys were surfing, an older Aussie man came by and told D. Hump that in 15 years of walking that beach in the mornings, he’d never seen anyone surf where the guys were. So the spot was named “Shite’s Reef in honor of Jeremy Heit.

After the left, we went up the coast to another point and surfed waist-high waves for three hours. Marlon was ripping. He’s getting really good.

On the way home we stopped in Potuvil for gasoline and prescription drugs. Jeremy wanted valium for the flight home, and the rest of us realized we did, too. So we found a chemist and went in. The guy pulled out a bottle of Diazepam and we thought he said it would be 150 rupia per 5mg pill, so we said we wanted 1,000 rupia worth. Well, it turns out that 1,000 rupia buys about 2,500mg of Diazepam.nd love to smile. When young kids see us, they yell “Hi!

Returned to hotel, watched TV with Jeremy, D. Hump, Marlon, then showered and went to Rasta Rick’s for drinks and BBQ with everyone.

Drank a ton of beer, some arak punch, and other drinks. Ate marlin caught that day. Sat with Dustin, Joe, and Teasha and talked about photography and travel. Made plans to go to Iceland with Joe in late September for two weeks.

Everyone got pretty drunk, then we went across the street to a little bar/patio on the beach. People were fire dancing. Officially gave up on the idea of finding a woman here. All the hot ones are traveling with boyfriends. Whatever.

Joe and Teasha were drunk and funny. Joe came out of his shell a bit, egging me on to keep drinking.

We met some strange characters at the BBQ—lots of ex-pat types. Mostly English and Australian. You get a strong sense of how undiscovered Sri Lanka still is when you realize that all the tourists in town know each other.

Home around one a.m.

Monday, July 26

Slept in late for the first time in a week (first time in two weeks for the other guys). Up at 9:30. Everyone looks drained.

Breakfast—tea, fruit, toast, eggs.

By ten a.m. it’s scorching. Must be 90. Hottest since we’ve been here. The heat is stifling.

There’s a feeling that we’ve shot all the surf action we need, which is good because the surf is quickly going down.

Getting ready to go to the right point at (name withheld), I realize I’ve lost this notebook. I stress out, checking everywhere, and getting depressed that I lost something potentially important to the story.

Still bummed, Teasha, Joe and I went down and surfed. Knee high on the sets. The surf has dropped, and by one p.m. the wind was up.

On the way home, the Muslim schools were getting out and the streets were full of young kids in all lavender. They surrounded our truck saying, “hello and “what’s your name?

Such cute, smart, and happy kids smash the Bush administration’s painting of Muslims as haters of freedom. These are beautiful people who have dreams and loves. Fuck Karl Rove! In this place, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus live peacefully together.

When we got back, they had found my notebook by the TV. Very relieved!

Lunch at upstairs Thai place. Dustin and Joe left to go shoot photos of elephants. Teasha and I stayed and talked. I like her–she’s really cool.

Back to hotel to relax out of the heat, which at five p.m. is still sweltering.

Dinner at Stardust Beach Hotel. Nicer place on the North end of the Aragum Bay main strip. Dinner was beef and prawn curries, rice, and similar dishes to what we have every night. Everyone was tired from such a hot day. Went home and fell asleep watching Master and Commander on my computer.

Photo Idea: Collage of all the ex-pat locals D. Hump snapped with Fuji medium format.

Tuesday, July 27

Up early to shoot the left next to (name withheld) that Jeremy and Marlon found. Jeremy is the only goofy foot on the trip, and he’s dying for a left to surf. So after breakfast (eggs, toast, tea, fruit), we headed down, and Jeremy and Marlon surfed for an hour while Hump shot.

While the guys were surfing, an older Aussie man came by and told D. Hump that in 15 years of walking that beach in the mornings, he’d never seen anyone surf where the guys were. So the spot was named “Shite’s Reef in honor of Jeremy Heit.

After the left, we went up the coast to another point and surfed waist-high waves for three hours. Marlon was ripping. He’s getting really good.

On the way home we stopped in Potuvil for gasoline and prescription drugs. Jeremy wanted valium for the flight home, and the rest of us realized we did, too. So we found a chemist and went in. The guy pulled out a bottle of Diazepam and we thought he said it would be 150 rupia per 5mg pill, so we said we wanted 1,000 rupia worth. Well, it turns out that 1,000 rupia buys about 2,500mg of Diazepam. We scored. We just paid about $5 US for what in the States would cost $2,000 over the counter. Weird, huh? Jeremy was in heaven. We had enough valium to roofie half the elephants on the island.

Makes you wonder why Americans have to pay so much for prescription drugs. How come a third world nation can take such better care of its people? America has priority problems. I realize that when I’m so far from it.

Came by to Hideaway and had lunch at the Thai place, checked e-mail, and drove back to town around four. The surf sucked, so we didn’t surf. We all laughed at Marlon who took a couple Diazepam and fell asleep on the sand while we checked the surf. He was so looped. We laughed. Jeremy started calling him “grom for getting all lopey.

Later, drank with Jeremy at a local bar, then met everyone at Rasta Rick’s for a drink and had dinner at Hideaway around 8:30.

Everyone was tired from pills, but we went back to Rick’s and I met the yoga guy everyone’s been talking about–Kevin. We made plans to surf with him the next day and I was asleep by midnight.

pam. We scored. We just paid about $5 US for what in the States would cost $2,000 over the counter. Weird, huh? Jeremy was in heaven. We had enough valium to roofie half the elephants on the island.

Makes you wonder why Americans have to pay so much for prescription drugs. How come a third world nation can take such better care of its people? America has priority problems. I realize that when I’m so far from it.

Came by to Hideaway and had lunch at the Thai place, checked e-mail, and drove back to town around four. The surf sucked, so we didn’t surf. We all laughed at Marlon who took a couple Diazepam and fell asleep on the sand while we checked the surf. He was so looped. We laughed. Jeremy started calling him “grom for getting all lopey.

Later, drank with Jeremy at a local bar, then met everyone at Rasta Rick’s for a drink and had dinner at Hideaway around 8:30.

Everyone was tired from pills, but we went back to Rick’s and I met the yoga guy everyone’s been talking about–Kevin. We made plans to surf with him the next day and I was asleep by midnight.