Nostalgic images of tropical waters fill my mind as I slam the car door and clumsily trigger the ignition through numb fingers....
I know this feeling, it’s familiar; we all recognise it.
Our instincts alert us through darkening skies, a colder bite to the air, and a deeper chill down our spines that the season is in flux. For most this is a time for pulling on an extra layer and hibernating; but for the lucky few it’s a signal for chasing the salt water trail to warmer climates. We refuse summer to end now that our minds and bodies have accustomed to its heat and energy, so we travel, we escape, we roam; to feel that warm glow through closed eyes once more and to embrace that prickly salty skin feeling after extended hours in the liquid ocean.
Those numb fingers are all but a distant memory as I squeeze the tepid waters of the Indian Ocean through the gaps beneath my tanned knuckles; my eyes squinting hard on the horizon waiting patiently for the next bump to appear. The warmness of the fire coloured ocean around my bare legs soothes me. The stillness of the humid morning air graces my skin like a comforting blanket and brings a contented grin to my chapped lips.
Palm leaves rustling onshore behind me amidst a cooling gust of wind brings me to my senses as I notice the pack beginning to scurry away. “One last wave, one last wave” I mutter as my body flicks into autopilot and my hands make sluggish scoops through the turbulent wake of my allies. How long have I been out now? How long have I been in this place? My watch never made it through customs; time, date, day of the week is of no importance to me here.
I feel the ocean pulse beneath me as I’m pulled upwards and surge over the lip of the first wave; the spray stinging my overzealous face. I grip the rails of my board with such force as I duckdive the next that I feel the shape of my hands moulding into them. I break through and resurface just at the precise moment to seize my opportunity to harness nature’s rawest of powers. I turn, I paddle, I know. The increase in speed is instantaneous but that feeling will last forever. Everything is now in slow motion as I grit my teeth and paint my way down the line, puffing hard with every fluid turn and arching my body in sync with the wave. This feeling is what drew me to this place.
My taste buds call me back towards the shore. I already know what’s on the breakfast menu, Suresh told me through his beaming smile on my way into this morning’s session. Just like every morning. But how could I ever be complacent with that now familiar taste of mind blowing curry, roti and cool papaya on the side. It still excites me, just as every new morning still excites me in this tropical wonderland. I’ve heard many different rumours about many different places but finally Sri Lanka feels like a place that goes beyond expectations; the people, the culture, the food, the landscape, the waves.
I dab my perspiring forehead and breathe deeply through pressed lips in an attempt to douse the heat of this morning’s banquet. By now the routine cycle winds have arrived destroying any hope of a clean wave, but I shrug my shoulders and scoff knowing all too well ill have my fix again soon. With surfing out the equation it’s time to catch up with the crew and see what adventures lay in store for the rest of the day, or at least until the winds decline. Acting on spontaneity, travelling by train, by two wheels, three wheels, or four in this beautiful country takes us to bustling market towns, monkey clad jungles, deserted beaches and undulating tea littered hills. Our options are seemingly limitless....