Apparently the best way to deal with leeches is to wear flip-flops, so that you can see them and flick them off as soon as they find your feet. Sometimes though, you don’t notice them as they wriggle their weird little bodies onto your skin and start to load up on your blood. There are times when it’s too late to simply sweep them off and it becomes more of a gouging mission. A mission that had Tom freaking out like a little baby. Needless to say, pretty early into our stay we decided that hot and sweaty leech resistance in the form of shoes and socks was a small price to pay in order to avoid excavating any more of these creepy little things.
To get to our farmstay in Sinharaja, we had to remove our shoes and cross a small river. We then had to lug our bags up-hill for about a kilometre. Had we been mentally prepared for this activity, it might not have seemed to arduous, but after 3 hours kicking back in a tuktuk, mentally prepared we were not. It was however, worth the walk.
At the top of the hill, we were met by Karina and Sam, who run a brand new eco farmstay/B’n’B which is truly in the middle of nowhere, with beautiful views of the rainforest as far as the eye can see. Karina from Germany and Sam from the UK had been living and working on their huge plot of land since they bought it about 3 years before. What they are doing is truly amazing and incredibly inspiring. Their plan to reforest the land and break away from monoculture farming is one that involves a tremendous amount of work, but one that is certainly coming to fruition. Karina took us on a walk around the land where she showed us the hundreds of trees and plants all providing food in the form of fruits, veg, herbs and spices. We also had a look around the enchanting mud hut that the pair of them live in. Like something out of a fairytale, their outdoor kitchen, complete with a dining area for their 4 cats leads out to a gorgeous waterfall which they use as a shower.
Here’s a video Tom made of the place
The reason we headed to this lovely place was so that we could visit the forest reserve. We had the option of a 4 hour hike or an 8 hour hike. We went with 4 because it’s our favourite number. In all honesty, it wasn’t the most invigorating experience of our lives. It was certainly a nice enough way to spend the day, but the fact that various motorbikes race along the same path taken by walkers meant that the wildlife we spotted was far and few. We did spot some magnificent iguanas, a giant squirrel, some monkeys, some nice birds, lots of millipedes and some humungous spiders. We also had a nice dip in a waterfall towards the end of the walk. I think perhaps if you opt for the 8 hour walk you get a bit more of a Bear Grylls off-the-beaten-track experience. But my God it’s hot in Sri Lanka right now. In all honestly, we probably saw more wildlife back at Karina and Sam’s pad.
Our guide was a curious guy. On several occasions he took my camera out of my hands in order to get a good photo. I’m not a pro, but I’m pretty familiar with my little compact so I was a bit like, what are you doing? Naturally, being British I just smiled and quietly expressed my grievances to Tom, while our guide headed further and further into the bush with my prized possession, sometimes for about 10 minutes at a time. Fortunately all his pissing about ran my battery down, at which point I was able to prevent him running off with it again AND avoid confrontation. I mean, on the downside, I wasn’t able to take any more picturess but hey, at least he took loads of really blurry photos, so not all bad.
(note: I’m just being mean. He took these ones and they’re really nice, so not all blurry)
Here’s a video that Tom made of the forest reserve
Back at the pad, sleeping without earplugs was not an option. The rainforest is a musical place. Birdsong medleys delight from dawn until dusk and frogs chatter throughout the evening. In stark contrast however, the middle of the night seemed to bring the most ungodly and also the most inexplicable of sounds. As Tom and I lay in bed trying to fall asleep to what can only be described as the gentle sounds of the roof caving in, accompanied by an incredibly loud hissing, we both began to conjure up our own images of what was actually happening.
Tom: Fight between a Snake and a Wild Boar
Amy: Tree falling down onto a horse
As the noises got louder and the madness of tiredness set in, these became more vivid and more bizarre. For hours and hours, banging and crashing continued to perpetuate our busy imaginations. When morning came, we sheepishly headed outside to assess the damage to our roof and the surrounding area. To our shock there was absolutely no sign of anything whatsoever. No fallen trees, no signs of explosion or alien invasion.