Or…what cricket tourists get up to between tests, and it’s all proper and above board!
Today started with breakfast being chicken curry and beetroot juice. The former had to be tried on a ‘when in Rome’ basis and the other to see if juiced beetroot would cure my aversion to all other cooking methods. The former was locally spiced to say the least and the latter equally vile as all other types!
Anyway, today left Kandy, the most polluted city in Sri Lanka (bottom of valley location, little through breeze etc) and headed eventually to Dambulla and the most amazing hotel. Perhaps more later.
The group stopped off at a spice plantation where the general expectation was to see and learn about spices, have a spot of lunch and then venture forth.
We stopped at Palapathwela where we entered what looked like an innocuous location. Immediately it became clear that it was a jungle clearing and full expectations of Dec and whoever appearing as if by magic to set some task or other. But not, it got even more surreal!
The excellent guide appeared and started explaining about the various spice plants and other plants being grown at this indigenous Ayurvedic medicine centre. Every spice, plant, herb etc had remedial qualities for virtually every known and unknown affliction to the human body and mind ranging from adenoids to xenophobia (I know xenophobia is not a disease etc but I couldn’t think of any which began with x, y or z).
However, it became clear that a cup of tea in the morning is the cure for all ills especially constipation, diarrhoea and flatulence. Cloves were recommended to stop people snoring (not sure if they were applied up each nostril or however), and each plant or herb helped. What soon became a running theme was that most of the herbs etc cured constipation, diarrhoea and flatulence. He enjoyed repeating this too much for my liking!
At this point a cup of tea was presented for tasting and given my dislike of tea I politely declined.
Then the tour of the spices became a cookery lesson as we entered a cabin in the jungle where the guide prepared a curry which we could enjoy for lunch later! He promised and delivered copies of the recipe later.
We then move to another hut/cabin where the effects on the skin, veins, blood vessels and brain – and probably most organs in between – were extolled. Having been rubbed on the hand with aloe vera and turmeric earlier, I was loath to advise that my hand was itching and declined every offer. Various ointments made from herbs, spices, etc were then proffered and the offer of having sandalwood and something else was offered and accepted by another member of the tour party as an aid to providing relief after shaving.
The next thing I know is that the hut had turned into a makeshift massage parlour with tops being removed (men only) for head and neck massages and similarly for the ladies (tops firmly kept in place) and massages provided by a small team of women who suddenly appeared from nowhere.
The guide then advised at length and more than once, the benefits of these herbs and spices and unguents for ladies in his style of English (which is much better than my Tamil!) but it left the dads in the group with too much detail to imagine- no man should ever have to endure those mental images!
This was the oddest collection of events/things that I have ever come across but more was to follow. The denouement was reached as we were offered the opportunity to buy a range of supplies etc in the well stocked shop (MasterCard preferred) before being escorted to lunch where the choice was curry supplemented by the curry made fresh by our guide! So far today I’ve had curry for breakfast and lunch…I need something else!
Our main tour guide had advised that Sri Lanka has 48 types of banana and when quizzed over lunch related the fact that one type can bring temporary impotence and Sri Lankan wives are known to use it to help keep the population under control and the government limit of two children per couple observed.
By this time surrealism had taken over…this visit was just odd in the extreme, even for Monty Python or perhaps it was all a dream but at least I’ve paid for a colour licence so I can dream in colour…but no, this was real life!
Reality then returned as we headed for Dambulla, the base for the next three days, and witnessed (I’m told) a rare sight of water buffaloes being used to pull the ploughs in the paddy field so we stopped and admired the scene. It also seems that by talking to the newly planted rice in its field that the harvest increases significantly- now I know I’m back to reality!
I’m a self employed cricket watcher…get me out of here!