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The traveler has many tales to tell ...

Little Smile holiday trip 2016

Surprised about the noise and activity the wild elephants return to the jungle and prefer not to take their snack in our banana plantation tonight. Three o’clock in the morning, in the darkness of the night one hundred young girls are running around excitedly and a less young man is trying to direct them to a waiting bus. In the kitchen, everything is almost ready – a 10-litre canister filled with extra hot soy. Then it is time for a little wonder: 102 female and 14 male beings (the boys had already come down from Hill Top last night), lots of luggage and the soy canister disappear in the bus, a bus with 30 seats.

Nothing is impossible! So I squeeze my 190 cm also into the bus and share my seat with “only” four girls, whose size fortunately does not even approximately correspond to my almost 2 meters. And off we go!

Thanks to the many bends and despite all the anti-nausea pills the kids had taken, the first ones started to vomit already before we reached Wellawaya. Precautionary, Anka had already distributed the puke bags among the kids, but despite Anka’s precautions some of the vomit landed on my left leg. It smells horrible, exactly like 90 % digested rice with curry smells. Two kids have fallen asleep on my lap one of them the now completely empty girl. The others are still singing – it is kind of a song contest – Tamil against Singhalese hits. In Siyambalanduwa I show those kids who are still awake, the police station where they held me captive almost exactly 5 years ago. I spent a bad unreal night there before they finally brought me to the prison in Monaragala. Oh my God, this seems so far away.

Somewhere in the steppe direction east coast, the day awakes mostly unnoticed by my kids, because the majority of them have fallen asleep in the meantime. We drive past two elephants and then we are almost there – Pottuvil is only a few kilometers away from Arugam Bay, from the sea.
Mureli, a good friend of mine, built the Pacific Hotel there, where we are always welcome. He is still sleeping when we arrive, but that doesn’t matter since anyway we all want to go to the beach immediately. The sun rises from the ocean and we plunge into it. On August 23 at 6:30 am, many of the children who currently are living in Mahagedara and Hill Top see the ocean for the first time in their lives. It is just an incredible feeling to see the joy of the children and the mostly very young child minders. Now in the morning we are practically undisturbed and alone on the beach. We have come just at the right moment – the fishermen have already returned from their fishing trips and the tourists not yet arrived.

As is the custom in Sri Lanka, apart from the very little ones, of course, kids and child minders are splashing in the water fully dressed. Mureli appears in the morning sun in a full body surf suit in extremely bright colors and at least two sizes too small for him.


He is a well-known person here, and thanks to him the beach police and the soldiers who are still hanging around here, soon know everything about us. Approximately 100 local girls with only three white people – apart from Anka and myself there is also Mirjam our trainee with us – attract attention.

Here on the beach in the world of the fishermen and increasingly also the tourists, we people from the mountain jungle are considered as real exotic creatures coming from a strange world or at least another time. Our girls are so hilarious, so innocent and so different. People leave us in peace and the first locals who appear, are kept in distance. Already in the early hours of the day, they are drunk and not the kind of people I would like to see close to our kids, especially not the girls.

The waves are not dangerous but nonetheless a real challenge for our mountaineers. Continually someone tries to cling to me sometimes so many adrenaline-fuelled non-swimmers are clinging to me that I almost drown. The seawater really tastes very salty and different from the south coast seawater – at least I think so.

I block the way for molesting men who are coming too close, particularly too close to our Pushpa who attracts men completely unintentional like light the moths. I teach how to swim, hold kids, throw balls and play in the sand with the little ones. Time passes very fast and we hardly realize that we have already spent more than three hours in the water. We are walking along the beach and it is getting hot, very hot. Tourists with thick layers of sun lotion on their skin take their surfboard and their hangover from last night and bring it to the surf spot where they wait like herrings in a shoal for the perfect wave.

We want to collect seashells but find only a few. On our last sea trip one year ago, we had more success.

Once again everybody except me wants to go into the water – what can I do, I follow. Meanwhile the tourists have shaken off their fatigue and again I have my hands full keeping all the persistent admirers away. Fortunately, hunger comes to help me and we leave the beach. In the tourist town all the beach boys, shopkeepers and everybody else who is hanging around waiting for tourists, is watching our caravan as if we were a mirage. Well, there is really something to it: We have become kind of strangers.

Four outdoor showers and three water hoses help to wash off the salt from our bodies and all our clothes. The children change their clothes in three of the bungalows and return in their best robes neat as pins. They don’t have many opportunities to wear them so this is their chance. Mureli has brought bred and juice. We unpack our soy curry and sit down in the big open hall of the Pacific Hotel. Mureli is running around hectically trying to make everything perfect for all the kids. He really is a nice person but too nice I fear for the tough beach business and definitely too weak for our hot curry. After the first bite, he praises it as his favorite breakfast curry, after the second bite, however, he starts gasping. Well, this is not poached eggs, and in Little Smile we do not season sparingly, after all we are at home where the pepper grows.