The Last of the Tour

So this is the last Sri Lankan hotel room I will have. Not too shabby…feels like a spacey Holiday Inn. The tour is wrapping up – we are ending it here in Unawatuna on the west coast south of Colombo, the capital.

I love, absolutely love, saying the name of this town. Una-whaaa-tuuuna. How could you not?

Change of tone though: The tsunami of December 2004 hit this town hard. I met up with a local on the beach and he pointed out to the rocky formations far out in the ocean. “It was a bit before 9 o’clock in the morning and the water’s edges had retreated over 100 yards towards those rocks. We all stood here on the beach confused. Then we saw the first of the five tsunami waves approaching. Anyone who couldn’t run, and little children, did not make it through the first round. At 12PM the last wave hit.”
To read about a catastrophe, and to see the striking images on television emits a sense of tragedy. But being there, hearing about the event from the mouth of someone who experienced it was moving, to say the least. He pointed up to the top of the light pole to indicate how high the waves arrived to the town’s roads. He showed me where he ran to and how he escaped. Powerful stuff.

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