We awaken a little late and go down for breakfast. I notice Adam eats very little. Back in the room I take everything off of my bed and use it as a large table to sort out what will go in my large bag and what will come with me on the plane in my backpack. It is a familiar problem and it goes well. I don’t fine my cheap phone after an exhaustive search. Champika is to come at 11:00 he has several items in his car that I need to put in my large suitcase, including the ironwood seeds. Adam decides to go for a last minute swim to get some exercise before many hours of sitting. I take a shower to start the very long day ahead clean.
I go down right at 11:00 but Champika is late after 5 minutes I decide not to waste this packing time. I also have to pay the bill for all the meals Adam and I had at the Hotel. My breakfasts were included everything else is extra. When I return to the room I finish up packing. Since I brought two large plastic containers of nuts that are now mostly consumed I have room for the statute of Ganesh, the book puzzles, the ironwood seeds, and the antique knives. All but the knives are in Champika’s car. I go back down he is just pulling up. I take my stuff from his car and return to the room to finish packing
Adam returns to the room and takes a quick shower.
We drive to the place Adam has been staying with the other students. He has been sleeping in a dorm like room with two sets of bunk beds. There is one room for women one for men. All but one of the students has gone on a trip to see the country, as it is Saturday. She comes out of her room with a big smile to say good-bye to Adam. She is an Australian student.
Our plan is to drive to Negombo beach on the way to the airport, have some fresh fish on the beach, and then go to the Airport, which is only 40 minutes from Negombo.
We are coming quickly to the end of our time in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka means beautiful island in their language and it is indeed a beautiful island peopled mainly by friendly honest people. There is a subset that seems not to care about throwing trash away anywhere they are with no regard for the environment. There are people like that everywhere. We have a virulent form of them in congress, in the senate, we have appointed them to permanent judicial positions of power and currently we have an anti-environment president. Although we don’t have as many people as Sri Lanka that will throw an ice cream wrapper, or candy wrapper on a trail in a National Park but our anti environmental people are doing far more damage.
On the way out of town Champika pulls over and announces that he is incapable of driving us to Negomboand the airport he stayed up until 5 AM celebrating with his family and is just too sleepy. He has arranged for another driver to finish the trip.
This is a big disappointment. I was planning on giving him his tip at the airport. Basically giving him all the Sir Lankan money I had left and could no longer use on this trip. Now with dinner on the beach still ahead of us. I must make a decision on short notice how much to give him. He reminds me that he owes me 9500 rs, about $63 dollars for various reasons. I quickly decide to give him a $100 dollar bill and let him keep the 9500rs. I also decide that I will give the new driver a bit more to relay to Champika at the airport when I know exactly what I have.
The new driver is not nearly as fluent in English. When we get to Negombo beach he has no idea where to get fresh fish cooked for us the way Champika did for me on the beach on the way to Unawatuna. I was really looking forward to a nice piece of fresh fish. We end up going to an expensive tourist restaurant and ordering fish that was nothing special and paying over $40 for the two of us.
Adam wisely says that I should stow my disappointment and enjoy the fact that we are where we are, together. He is right.
After dinner we are driven to the Airport, which is about 40 minutes away. We arrive at 7:15 for a flight that will take off at 11:50. I give the driver an additional 6000 rs about $40 for Champika and another 1000rs for him. We cannot check in until 8:00pm.
When we finally get started on the process to get to the gate the bureaucracy is slow and duplicitous. It would have been extremely stress inducing if we had been in a hurry. Our luggage is screened twice. Our carry on bags three times. We are required to present our passports 4 times. Since we are not in a hurry, it is comical. I realize, as does Adam that we have failed to keep a jacket in our carry on and it is often very cold on long flights so Adam goes off to buy us something warm to wear on the flight. He comes back wearing a seat shirt with an elephant on it; he has purchased one just like it for me. It is time to enter the gate area for the flight which we have delayed doing since there is no toilet in that area and it is necessary to go though yet another screening of our passports and carry on bags. If we had gone in earlier we would have had to go through screening several times if we needed to use the toilet. Now it was short time before the flight. We go through screening one more time and take our seats at the gate.
As we are sitting at the gate the room fills with the last of the passengers. Adam and I had selected at check in to sit apart so we could each have a window seat. On a long flight it is easier to sleep if there is no chance you will be awakened by a fellow passenger needing to go to the bathroom. While we are at the gate waiting, I notice that there is a very large fellow sitting not far from us and comment to Adam, I hope I don’t have to sit next to him.
Sure enough Adam’s seat was right next to the really big guy and since Adam is much larger than I am, I figured that he would be more uncomfortable, so I offer to switch seats with Adam. So I end up sitting next to this huge guy for 9 ½ hours. Great!! It’s turns out not to be as bad as I thought it would be.
The flight is scheduled to take off and at 11:50pm and it does very close to that time.