February 5th ~ Nuwara Eli
The effect of the Coronavirus has once again been felt. As we were driving out of Kandy this morning, Heshan asked our driver to stop so that we could take a photo of a massive, sprawling tree. The tree happened to be on the grounds of an elite University.
As soon as our guide stepped off of the bus, a security guard stopped him and refused to let anyone disembark. He said that due to health fears, the students were not allowing any outsiders on campus.
We had to settle for taking pictures from the bus. The picture is not particularly very good, and would under normal conditions never have made the blog, BUT, it is serving the purpose of illustrating how nervous some people are.
What I think is equally interesting is that the hotel we will be staying in tonight is where the tourist with the first case here in Sri Lanka stayed. She tested positive on the 22nd of January, 14 days prior to our visit which is the incubation period.
The hotel has been thoroughly scrubbed and is probably more clean than most hotels. Tim and I are not worried, but are finding all of this very interesting.
Today, travel to Nuwara Eliya via Ramboda with a stop at a Tea Estate and factory.
Women are normally the ones who pick the tea because they have a softer touch. Upon arrival, each of the ladies is given a basket with a cloth band attached. The band is placed across the forehead with the basket hanging down ones back.
We are then instructed on how to pick tea. We are to nip off the end three leaves plus the bud. We then walk a short distance up the side of the hill to where the tea trees are located. The trees are kept very short (about waist height) to make picking easier. They look more like bushes than trees.
We get to watch one of the workers demonstrate the correct way to pick. She made it look easy, picking several bundles and then neatly dropping them into the basket on her back.
This is what it is supposed to look like:
The woman instructing us, then sets a timer and challenges us to pick as many as we can, with the winner to receive a prize.
Ready, set, go…
Next we move inside the factory where we learn about the growing and harvesting of tea. Since the previous day had been a National holiday, there was not any tea waiting to be processed. We did get to observe where the processing of the leaves, grading and packaging took place.
The visit was ended with a sampling of different varieties of “Ceylon” teas.
We were encouraged to purchase our favorite. Instead of tea, I selected some hand lotion.
Continuing on our drive through tea country, I was awed by the beauty of the area. Hills covered in terraces with row after row of lush green tea plants. We were surrounded by breathtaking views of bright green rolling hills, meadows, mountains and rushing waterfalls.
After lunch, we proceeded to Nuwara Eliya.
This hill town was a popular 19th century resort and escape for the hard-working English and Scottish pioneers of Sri Lanka’s tea industry.
After checking in to our hotel, we once again meet up for our afternoon tour that began with a tuk tuk ride to the Old Church. No photography was allowed inside, but I slipped up. Upon seeing the signature of our friends who signed the guest book the previous week, I snapped a shot without thinking.
A cup of tea and the Grand Hotel, a quick tour through this once elegant estate, and a demonstration from the countries Snooker champion capped off the day.
We did have a few minutes to shop in town and I was so excited to find the string hopper tool that was demonstrated the previous evening during the home visit.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I do not have to pick tea leaves for a living. I would starve to death. These poor women get paid only $6 per day. They are also provided housing.