#3 So, a woman walks into a massage room…

Consider Yourself Warned


HOLY Shit!


Teensy Tiny One-Day Old Sea Turtles


...and sees a noose, 3 gym mats on the floor, and a bunch of plastic sheeting...  

I swear my Ayurvedic massages just get weirder and weirder.  As it turns out, the noose was actually a hand-hold, so the masseuse could perform part of the massage with her feet (insert bad joke here) while I lay on towels on the mats on the floor.  Part of the massage was conducted on the massage table, which was covered with the aforementioned plastic sheeting.  After all of that, I was then scrubbed with some stuff that looked like coconut mixed with turmeric and wrapped in the sheet for a while.  The best part, though, was the outdoor tub (this was all at my hotel's spa).  Finally, finally, a huge tub that was actually *full* of hot water, and surrounded by palm trees to boot.

My hotel at the beach was gorgeous.  It was built into a hill perched over the ocean.  Lots of big rocks with waves crashing on them.  The hotel's location was what saved it from being badly damaged in the tsunami.  Only the first floor lobby was flooded.  Oh, and the old spa, which was/is down by the ocean, was washed away.  The hotel was a beautiful place to lounge about and drink fruity drinks, but it was very disconcerting to drive along the main road (which runs quite close to the ocean) and see the extent of the tsunami damage.  So horrendously sad.

Lots of remains of homes, with only bits of kitchen tiling or a doorway remaining.  There are still upended boats amidst some of the palm trees.  I went to two tsunami memorials, one of which is actually two wrecked train cars.  1500 people on the train were killed (many locals running from the tsunami actually jumped on the train hoping that its heft would withstand the force of the ocean.  Sadly, they were very wrong.  Sri Lanka being a very poor country, the two most damaged cars were designated as a memorial while the remaining less badly damaged cars were actually put back into service.

But no train rides for me this trip.  No sirree, it was good old Sri Lankan road all the way.  About 50 hours worth of road time in my estimation.  So it is with some confidence that I can say (now that I'm safely done and this won't upset my mother that Sri Lankan roads are the worst I have ever seen.  I'm not really sure which was the worst offender - the rockslides? The floods?  Or the omnipresent road construction that seemed to be in the process of tearing up every square inch of road mother nature hadn’t already trashed.  I teased Mr R that what he really needed was a jeep, but, ironically, on 2 of the 3 days when we were supposed to rent a jeep, they were all "broken" and unavailable.

But  back to the rockslides - they don't call them that in Sri Lanka.  In their quaint British-influenced accents, they say "mud slip" instead.  Sounds so much less nasty that way - slip has an oops-like quality which I just don't think really does the situation justice.  We began encountering the slips on Day 3ish, as we headed up into the hills.  There'd been a lot of rain recently, and, frighteningly, a fair bit of acreage had apparently gone tumbling down the hills.  At one point we encountered a rock (boulder) that, I swear, must have been a good 12-15 feet tall and, easily, 15 feet around.  It was resting squarely in the outside lane at the edge of the cliff (I checked for unfortunate, crushed vehicles, but saw none).  Fortunately, the other lane was clear, so cars and trucks could get by.  I was talking to the GM of my hotel later that night and, specifically, about the boulder.  He said that the RDA was in a quandry.  If they pushed the rock off of the road, they had no idea where it would come to rest and what it would destroy along the way.  They didn't want to blow it up for fear of damaging the road bed.  Their current plan was, no lie, to have people chisel it away bit by bit and carry it off

The next day, I decided to count the rockslides/mudslips we passed, so that I could give some magnitude to the situation.  But I was quickly stymied as to what should count:  How recent did they need to appear to be?  Should backhoes still be on the scene?  One lane cleared?  Both?  What if it didn't actually cover the road?  I gave up - too much work for a vacation.  But I did count about 20 of all types within a span of about 20 minutes before I stopped.

The king of the road in Sri Lanka is....the Sri Lankan dog.  No matter what road you're on, there will invariably be dogs lying squarely in the middle of it.  It is clearly the primo, coolest place to hang out if you're a dog.  The best part is that when cars come, the dogs don't get up.  Well, at least not right away.  They hilariously take their own sweet time about getting their butts off of the ground, stretching a bit, and moving out of the way.  Miraculously, I did not once see any doggie roadkill (or any other kind for that matter).  That's particularly impressive given the way Sri Lankans drive.

So, happily, I survived my Sri Lankan road trip.  Despite one email from the US Embassy (letting me know Sadam had been hung and warning me, as an American citizen, to avoid any demonstrations) and 3 mentions of Sri Lanka's "escalating civil war" in the NY Times while I was there (Shout out to Kim C in Charlotte for that factoid).  I'm now happily tucked in to my cozy little Japanese inn in the heart of the Ginza district.  My room is, indeed, 8 sq meters, but that's nice and Susie-sized, especially with the bed and all of its fixings tucked into the closet.  

Tokyo's a very cool place, and I look forward to spending some more time here someday.  One thing I just have to mention:  Imagine if your toilet played bird songs and running stream noises every time you sat down on it.  Seemingly more common in public lavatories.  So freakin' funny it makes me laugh out loud every single time :)

And, tomorrow, I'm heading home.  It's been a fascinating trip.  And I'm tan.  And I saw lots of elephants.  And I went to a turtle hatchery and got to hold the little baby sea turtles and see their belly buttons!!!  Should tide me over for a while :)

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