We woke up today and decided to try something new. We had gone to the same beach every day this week and while that had been lovely, it was time to do something a little different (and when I say something different, I mean go to another beach). A short distance from our hotel was a place called Jungle Beach, a title that makes sense since you have to trek through a jungle-like area to get there. With Unawatuna flooded with tourists, Tuk Tuks constantly buzz around the narrow streets. The drivers always ask you if you want a ride, even if you clearly don’t. Today was a different day though, I was going to take my first ride in a Tuk Tuk, something that I could hardly contain my excitement for.
The Tuk Tuk zipped down the street, constantly beeping and weaving around other cars. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to drive here, you always feel like you’re about to crash into another car and/or people. Somehow people manage though, even as they drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid having to slow down when other cars are in the way. I felt like I was in a go-cart. Zoe and I were in one Tuk Tuk and Kasey and Dochi were in the other. The Tuk Tuks moved and chugged up the hills like the little engine that could. I wondered if we would have to get out and push at one point. It reminded me of a van that I rode in in Panama, which zoomed down the declines, and would labor up the inclines. I figured that the guy had driven the road hundreds of times, but the struggling vehicle didn’t exactly inspire confidence. It also doesn’t help that many of these vehicles are long past their prime.
Once we arrived at our destination, we were a little confused. Rather than pulling up to the beach, we arrived at a little shack and a pathway. The pathway led to the beach, and it only took us five or so minutes to navigate. Luckily the path wasn’t too treacherous, since we all had on only flip flops (Dochi had on her orthopedic sandals, they’re quite stylish). The greater danger was the low-flying tree branches, which would knock you flat if you didn’t pay attention. Through the trees, we could hear the surf crashing on the beach. The first thing we noticed when we looked down was that there were far less people than there were at the other beach. We also realized that at Jungle Beach, there were no peddlers offering you odd-looking marionettes, over-priced fruit, or a massage (on our last day at the other beach, this rather large woman got a massage that got a little too intimate). I was pumped about this, since I never seem to handle these interactions well, especially with how strong the accents are.
Today would finally be the day that I ordered a piña colada. Usually the ones that you got in other tropical locales were white, but these had a distinct yellow hue. They were freshly made, and I struggled not to drink the entire thing in one sip. Jungle Beach was a lot smaller than the other beach (a walk along it only took about ten minutes), and there were still a few stray dogs here and there. There were stray dogs all over Unawatuna, which made me nervous. They generally were friendly, and only wanted to sleep under people’s chairs to avoid the sun. Some people fed them, some people petted them. I was not that adventurous, and instead tried to avoid them at all costs (it’s not that I hate dogs, I don’t at all, I’m just terrified that they all have rabies. I also had a particularly traumatic relationship with a three-legged dog when I was younger that bit me on two separate occasions).
After a lovely beach day, we decided to walk it home rather than take a Tuk Tuk. As we headed up the path, I hooked my sandal on a rock and ripped open my flip flop. This made me think of that line in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, “I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top.” Now it seemed like we’d have to take a Tuk Tuk, but Kasey sprang into action, tying my flip flop to my feet with two hair ties (pictures to follow at some point). Remarkably, it held together for the half an hour walk home. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at an art exhibit with a huge fake hand outside. The art was really cool, and I honestly would have considered buying something, but I didn’t know how I would get it home. I also didn’t want to travel with it, given how much we will be traveling.
Back at the hotel, we ordered beer and played volleyball in the pool. It took us a while to get the hang of it, and the ball kept hitting the group of hotel guests next to the pool (oops). They were nice enough to return the ball to us though, and after that, it was time for our final dinner in Unawatuna. We decided to grab some Italian food, which consisted of: bruschetta, two pizzas, red and white wine, and some desserts. It was an absolute feast. We attempted to walk off dinner on the beach, continuously getting drenched by the waves. Someone was launching fireworks at the end of the beach. I tried to get a good shot of the shoreline at night, although I confess that the pictures didn’t really come out well. We went to Bong Chili Spice Cafe for a few drinks, laughing at other tourists as they didn’t realize how far the water was coming up the beach.
After a few beverages, we headed home. We stopped along the way to pick up a few more at this random roadside crepery. We purchased what they guy had left in the fridge. Afterwards we asked when he closed, to which he replied, “Now.” When we got back, we were greeted by the security guard and his canine companions. Oddly enough it seemed fitting.