Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where the natives live.



After our morning walk at Perediniya, Chandana asked if we would be interested in seeing how native i.e., aboriginal Sri Lankans live. We didn't have anything better to do so what the heck, we said, "Yes". I had absolutely no idea what we were in for but I'm always up for a bit of adventure. 


I later found out that the area around Kandy is populous with indigenous people known as the Veddas.

We headed to the nearby outskirts of Kandy.  Chami turned off the main road onto an unpaved path and we drove short distance til we reached a driving lot.  There, we picked up a man who was obviously someone from the village.  He was our guide, so to speak.  He was very slight of build with a long beard and shoulder length hair that had been tied back into a short knot.  He was shirtless and had a sarong type wrap around his waist.  A wood handled hatchet was slung over his right shoulder.  His feet were bare.

A short distance later, Chami parked the van and we got out.  There was another vehicle carrying *non-aborigines* that was just pulling out of the lot.  The villagers who walked up to us, with handicrafts for sale, were further indication this place was a tourist stop.  Hmmmm.....made me wonder how native these aborigines really are?  Did the guy have a cellphone tucked somewhere inside his sarong?

We followed the man down a path. It was a sweltering hot and humid day but obviously he's used to the climate. Not to mention that he must have soles made of leather because he was walking, on what I know was HOT ground, completely barefoot.  I would not have made it had I had to do the same!


Our walk ended in a thatched covered shelter. We were at the home of the village chief. I didn't see any other structures around so I wondered everyone else lived. The Veddas make their livelihood farming and raising animals. The afternoon we were there, the ground was so dry it didn't look arable but I'm sure with one good rain and the crops would be bursting up like mad.


Sitting inside the structure were a handful of village men, women and children. Along one side was a bench on which there were quite a few repurposed plastic and glass bottles containing liquid of some sort, twigs, leaves, etc. According to Chandana, the liquid was medicine.  Like may indigenous groups, the Veddas rely on native flora for curing ailments.


Chandana said that his wife suffers from lower back pain and one of the medicines that she uses, as a pain relieving rub, comes from this village.  Every time he visits, he picks up a small bottle.  One of the village women packed up a small bottle's worth for him.  As you can expect, neither my brother nor I were interested in any of the medicine.  But we were interested in the photos lining the back wall.  Apparently, they were all of the chief and his family.  Turns out that the man who was guiding us around.....I never did ask his name.....was his son. 


It was a short visit to the village.   Really, we just went there to pick up some medicine for Chandana's wife. I didn't learn anything about the natives and their way of life but I have to admit, I didn't mind.  There's only so much culture you can take in and absorb.  It was an interesting diversion nonetheless.


Back in the van, we make another stop to drop off our guide.  We gave him our thanks.  There were more villagers selling handicrafts along with a man selling pieces of boiled corn.  You can guess which one we bought.  It was very flavorful corn but unfortunately, also just about the toughest, driest kernels I've ever sunk my teeth into.  I couldn't finish my piece - too hard to chew and swallow.

Soon, we left the dry, arid land behind and were back up in the hills heading back to Kandy.  The weather was a handful of degrees cooler but the views were fantastic.

No road trip with my brother would be complete without a stop at a road side fruit stand. This one was no different! :-)

On the way back into town, we made one last stop - at a spice garden.  A guide took us around and showed us the indigenous plants and told us about their medicinal properties.  My brother and I have been there, done this before so many times that I think we came across as a bit disinterested to the poor guide.  I think 15 minutes after we stepped of the van, we were getting back on.

Back the house, we had a few minutes to rest and get our stuff together before heading out for our second and last night of the Esala Perahera.  That I was excited about!!