February 9 ~ Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka
Weligama means Sandy Village. Colorful outriggers and fishing boats can be seen off the coastline. This is also a great place for both experienced and beginner surfers with lessons available. The southwestern shores are a hotspot for tourists.
They are probably most famous for their stilt fishermen.
“In chest-deep water on the beach, just a few meters off-shore, are the stilt fishermen perched on a cross bar fixed on a single pole planted into the sea-bed. These fishermen, who are the poorest of the poor, spend hours with their lines cast out to the sea to catch small fish and sell them in return or use for their daily meals.” ~ Lanka.com
In early morning and late afternoon they are actually fishing, but during the rest of the day they make themselves available for curious tourists to take pictures.
After watching them for a few minutes, and seeing a small fish caught, we were given the opportunity (for a small fee) to climb up on a stilt platform. As luck would have it, the tide was out, and the closest platforms were in very shallow water.
Well, of course I wanted to try it!
It was a little more tricky to get up on the platform than I imagined as the first step was rather high for this 5’2″ gal. Not having very good upper body strength to pull myself up, and limited balance, I was quickly thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew.
A very friendly fisherman grabbed me by my backside and gave me quite the boost.
But I did (kind of) make it up and straddled the stand. I could not quite throw my leg over the top to sit side-saddle.
Tim managed to capture a couple of fun pictures of my escapade.
And then came the challenge of getting back down. I think this short video will show how great that went, lol. Turn your sound on for a chuckle.
Thank goodness that fisherman was strong and had a good sense of humor as I literally ended up sitting on his shoulder when he caught me.
I am still laughing about it.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site to cross off the list. Built by the Portuguese in 1588 and later inhabited by the Dutch, it is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument.
I feel like we cheated a bit at Galle Fort. Everyone else walked around, but Tim and I chose to hire a Tuk Tuk for an hour to show us the main sites. We negotiated a price of $5 for the drivers service.
Galle Fort, also known as the Dutch Fort or the “Ramparts of Galle” covers 130 acres. Damaged by the devastating Boxing Day tsunami where a 20 foot wall of water hit this area, it has since been restored.
Sri Lanka was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami following the earthquake. Their civilian casualties were second only to those in Indonesia. Approximately 90,000 buildings and homes were destroyed.
This is a melting pot community of Moor, Sinhalese, Dutch, English, Portuguese and German settlers who live and work inside the fort.
We got to see quite a bit in a short amount of time and still were able to join Dick and Karen for a drink, snack and a little shopping.
Taprobane Island (click here to read more about it)
On the drive back to the hotel, we passed this tiny island that had a villa built on it. Not a very good picture as we flew by on the bus, but the history is interesting.
“An impossibly romantic island villa eccentrically accessible only by wading through the sea.” Conde Nast Traveller
Fish Dinner on the Beach
Dinner was on our own this evening, but Heshan had a wonderful suggestion up his sleeve. He knew the owner of a small beachside fish diner only minutes from our hotel. Half of our tour group decided to join him.
What a treat it turned out to be.
We first individually picked out the very fresh fish we wanted prepared for us. Tim and I choose a Red Snapper and a few prawns to share.
The table right on the beach, the full snow moon, and candles/fire pots all added to the special ambiance.
Oh, yeah, the fish was quite tasty as well.
Coming Next: Our final day in Sri Lanka
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for a very strong fisherman who saved me from falling into the sea, for the opportunity to try my hand a stilt fishing and for a delicious and romantic dinner on the beach. What a fun day!