I had to pay a visit to one of the company's sites today in Embilipitya. I had not realised quite how far this was, somewhere off Ratnapura and the site itself yet further into the interior.
It was pretty much off the main tourist track, the only thing of any note being an abandoned paper mill.
I enjoyed the ride on deserted, slightly bumpy rural roads, hedged on either side by a sort of semi-dry zone forest. I could not make up mind as to whether it was wet or dry zone, it was in the region of Uda Walawe so it may have been a bit of both. It took me back to my childhood memories of travel, seeing roads lined with trees, not necessarily forest, but trees, trees and trees. Lots of coconut trees, but also plaintain trees, jak trees and all sorts of wild greenery.
Buildings in rural areas were wattle and daub, thatched with coconut. Bricks and tiles were mostly in towns and for bigger buildings. Now the scenery seems dominated by signboards and glitzy glass-fronted shops.
On the way back we passed by some stalls selling curd. When I expressed an interest in buying some, my colleague who is a regular visitor to the site (it was my first visit) told me of a stall run by a family who produce it from their own herd. We stopped there and I bought a couple of pots, which turned out to be very good. Not as thick as some varieties, but with a rich creamy flavour. I was told that I needed to finish them fast, since they done use any additives. We sighted a herd of buffalo on the paddy fields as we drove past.
It struck me that the buffalo is now largely extinct, as a beast of burden. When I was little the farmers would be working their fields with buffalos, now they have been replaced almost completely by the hand tractor, just as the outrigger canoe (or catamaran) has been displaced by the motorised boat at sea.
The triangular sails of the catamarans used to dot the horizon when looking out from the seashore. Now they are only found as decorations in hotel lobbies or beach side restaurants.
I have a very good memory and I even remember seeing bullock carts and even the odd rickshaw, which used to take children to school.
That these have disappeared is a sign of progress, people are better off now and they using modern equipment, which is a good thing. A part of me however remains an incurable romantic and sight of some of these older scenes leaves wallowing in a nice, warm, nostalgia.
There are a few nice pictures on an album on Flickr
Also picked up a few pictures from the web, for the benefit of anyone who never saw these. Hope you like them, does anyone have any colour pictures of similar scenes?