Mirissa

After a hour lull in my hammock..it felt like drifting on the sea…I wander the beach at night and grab a cocktail. The tide washing around my table legs. The beach is quite low key, several bars, this one playing goldfrapp, a distant fire swinger. Everything has closed up on the road by about 8 pm.
I don’t feel sleepy and spend several hours changing my possible itinerary again. Sleep until 10.30 in the end. I get a whole fresh pineapple and some folded vegetable roti from a shop on the corner for breakfast. The young guy who runs the place joins me for a chat which goes on for hours.
His name is mahesh, born and bred in mirissa and his home is next door, with his mother, aged grandmother, she of one tooth, and 2 tuk tuk driving brothers. He is 24 and has learntenglish through doing this job. The guest house is newly built and looks ready for a second floor to be added. Mahesh’ dream is to have a place like this as his own. But, he earns around £150 a month. I talk to him about being patient, building himself a reputation, working on his skills. Afterallhe he is the reason I took the room here. He made me feel welcome. We have a long talk about developing economies and that his dream may be short sighted. I can see mirissa being exploited by monied big shots who will buy up, build and homogenise this place, squeezing out the small guys. He and his family should hold onto their land and house. Maybe one day a hotel group will make them an offer too good to refuse. I feel I have deflated him a little. He needs a dream, a we all do.. I’m sure there will always be a place for budget traveller guesthouses anyway. I need them, that’s for sure, and I’m not alone. I and so many others travel to be in places that are precisely different from what we experience at home. But, if money making is the over-riding factor, then he may well have to end up working for some faceless franchised operation that sucks up the local essence, repackages it and spits it out as something sanitised, familiar and profit making.
It becomes afternoon, and I take a walk. Up the steps to a little nondescript temple that shares it’s hill with a radio mast. The view is special. I carry on along the beach westwards, negotiate the narrow beach a nd rocks and find myself on some less visited beaches, lined with beached fishing boats, coconut stalls: a coconut a day keeps the doctor away, says the sign, a guy peddling massage, and a mother cadging cigarettes. I’m looking for the so called lonely beach and don’t know if I actually do find it. The guy in a store back on the road says there is no beach the way I’m heading, at least not a nice one. Opposite his store are the overgrown ruins of a colonial mansion. I cut down some dusty lanes and come out on a beach with a rocky shelf, full of pools and crazy geometric rock formations, lots of little fishes and eels skittering around. To return I climb a grassy hill studded with the ubiquitous palms bearing orange coconuts, back onto the sandy beach and wallow in the water, which surges a little too much to be relaxing. After a 30 minute read I walk back towards mirissa, breaking the walk up with a stop at the craggy outcrop I swam near the day before. This time I feel confident enough to wade out to it and climb up the top for a beautiful view of the bay. I clamber down the side where the crashing waves leave the black rock shimmering. There are scores of crabs scuttling across the rocks. I spend a while attempting to photograph them. Next, a float in the sea as sunset approaches, then I dry off watching another impromptu cricket match by the waters edge, played by local lads. Dinner is curry and rice, but the best thing is a wood apple lassi. New fruit, new flavour. Fab. As I leave for my room rain is in the air. 20 minutes later it comes pouring down. The air smells fresh, earthy, invigorating.

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