I was inspired to pen this after reading Kirigalpoththa's blog about he's adventures, hiking and camping around Sri Lanka. Brought back a few memories of mine!
Under the stars in Marichchukkadi
The Northern boundary of Wilpattu is a a place called Marichchukkadi, a sparsely settled area. It was here that my dad took me on my first shoot at a time when it was still possible to do such things in Sri Lanka. By this time he had limited his bag to wild boar and hare's, the former thriving in the jungles, raiding chena's and paddy fields in the night.
On the other hand I had developed a healthy respect for life, irrespective of spices, preferring to watch animals in their natural habitat, bringing home one stray after another to the pretend exasperation of my mother.
SO, the reality was that I was there for the ride, for the opportunity of staying up all night dressed in hiking boots, jeans, a t shirt and a hand painted camouflaged jacket.
If I close my eyes right now, I can see that night, a cold clear night with the wind around be as I sat in the back of the open jeep, looking up at the crystal clear sky pricked with brilliant dots of white light, stars in their millions. I hear the wind in my ears, the sound of the engine, the smell of the earth...
Elephant in the Moonlight
Much later, now as a young man I discovered Diyaluma, the 630 odd foot water fall on the Koslanda - Welawaya road. There are two paths that eventually take you to the top of these falls, there you will find something that very few people know of - that all that water pouring off the top does so through a mouth that is perhaps two feet wide at the most if not less.
I chose to spend a night up there once, armed with a sleeping bag.
Just to the right of the edge there is a flat rock, large enough to accommodate me and my site. That night as I sat there toasting my marshmallows and chocolate, feeling the back spray from the falls over me was a perfect night. The quietness, the calmness of the night soothed my soul, music to my ears.
Later on as I lay there on my back, arms behind my head looking up at a nights sky, shooting stars streaked across the heavens granting me wish after wish.
The magical moment of that night happened early in the morning when I woke up around 3. Looking up stream, in the moonlight I see an elephant, a wild elephant at the streams edge, drinking water...
I cant remember if it was the Perseid or the Leonids meteor shower of 2000. Which ever one it was, it was expected to be seen at around 1 am and I wanted so badlyh to watch it.
At the time I was living in Mattakuliya, Crow Island to be exact, in a house which was right on the beach. Given that the location was in close proximity to the Colombo Port it was frequently patrolled by the Police as well as the Navy.
Stepping out on the beach I walked towards the sea to put some distance between me and the few street lights that still worked. Turning around I fixed my gaze towards the East and waited. It was not long before the shower began and soon the sky was periodically lit as the meteors lit up hitting the atmosphere.
So enthralled was I that remained unaware of anyone behind me till I heard an officious voice ask me 'Mokade karanne?" (What are you doing?) No surprise who that was!
Not wanting to miss any part of the show I barely turned round as I gave name and address. As to what I was doing, I invited them to see, and having directed their attenting towards the sky, stepped back to see what would happen.
The "Ooo's" and "Ah's" that emitted from the three as they saw the lights brought a smile to my lips, somehow I don't think it was an evening they would quite forget