I cannot say enough about the hospitality I received at the Beebopbeedoobi. They even organised a taxi van/driver for me for the six hour journey (which at NZ speeds, on NZ roads, would probably have only been about two hours had it been NZ looking at the map) from Kandy to Galle.
The journey took me down the mountains through the centre of the country to the West coast. It was utterly fascinating. Along the way the driver bought treats of delicious savoury snacks (which I am sure he added to the bill but no biggy). He also stopped in cashew country where he helped me buy the biggest and most delicious, and most probably freshest, cashews I have ever seen. Now this is going to sound incredibly stupid but until that day I did not know that cashews grew on trees, nor what those trees looked like. I also didn't realise just how many of the world's cashews came from Sri Lanka.
Cashew country is also rubber country. It was amazing to see the rubber plantations, even driving through them, and seeing the taps on the rubber trees. It's just such a different world, the world of primary not associated with forestry or farming. The plantations (especially the tea plantations) in Sri Lanka hark back to an era of hard work and horticulture. It's just so interesting for a young woman from a farming nation, even if she is a city girl.
As we got closer to the coast I noticed more of the same sorts of tooting that I had notice en route to the Elephant Orphanage. I, like others in my family, which I found out when I arrived at the hotel in Thalpe, began to wonder if the first thing a Sri Lankan driver learns is the language of the automotive tooting.
The West Coast of Sri Lanka is, of course, the part of Sri Lanka that got hit by the devastating Boxing Day tsunami. It was so sad to see patches of land where whole families had been wiped out and houses not rebuilt as a result. The coastal towns are recovering but when I visited it was already many years later and some places were still suffering.
The whole area was beautiful though and meeting up with my family on arrival in Thalpe to share stories was a ton of fun!