The thunderstorm the night before was soothing to sleep through but of course with my luck had to occur right before my scuba diving day. Storms usually means decreased visibility underwater due to the bottom sand being stirred up from the rough surf.
From our hotel in Balapitiya, it was a 30-minute drive to the dive shop in Hikkaduwa. The drive along the coast was beautiful but my thoughts were often drawn back to the images of devastation from the 2004 tsunami that I saw through the news and through the relief agency I worked with at the time.
Our driver would point out to us the tsunami memorials along the way. On the tip of my tongue many times, but I was too timid to ask for fear that it would elicit further sadness, was the question of if my driver had lost any loved ones in the disaster.
The country seems to have recovered as the main roads were rebuilt, trains were running, new vegetation has taken over the landscape. And time has proven that Sri Lankans are resilient. But there will always be an underlying sadness to the beauty of the land and strength of the people.
April marks the end of the diving season on East coast of Sri Lanka. Diving has started to move over to the West coast.
The dive operator we dove with, Barracuda Diving Center, was getting ready to move their operations to Trincomalee.
Scotch and I did two dives each with Barracuda (the cost per dive per person was $30).
Our first dive was called Kirala Gala which had large schools of fish but not much coral. There was one other diver on the boat plus our dive master making it four of us in the group.
The water temperature was a nice and warm 82°F (28°) and I felt comfortable in my 3 mil full wetsuit.
Visibility on this first dive was about 25 feet. What made this dive was the large schools of fish all around us: surgeonfish, triggerfish, fusiliers (gold-band), and others I couldn’t identify.
We also saw a few large trevally (probably the blue trevally).
After our first dive, we went back to shore and the dive center for the surface interval and to pick up a few more divers.
Our second dive was at a site called Cave. Scotch and I buddied up again with our dive master from the first dive.
There was a short swim-through on this dive and not much else. Visibility had dropped to about 20 feet and there was a lot of particulate matter in the water which not only made for poor viz but also poor photos. We briefly lost sight of our dive master when engrossed in photographing a free-swimming scorpion fish.
Not much fish nor coral life combined with a strong current and other issues (my mask was too tight which gave me a pounding headache) made this a rather unpleasant and boring dive. Shame.
For dinner that night, we ventured out to a restaurant at a nearby sister property of our hotel because we needed a change of menu options. The property was located inland by a lake and the restaurant was al fresco.
We didn’t stay very long before asking for our check. I’m sure the view of the lake and surrounding areas during daylight hours would have been stunning but it was pitch black for us and full of mosquitoes out for blood. And the peace and quiet of the night was broken by the sound of Little Ginger crying herself to sleep. Totally unrelaxing.
For Sri Lanka – Day 6 – we head south to Galle for a day trip. Hoping that will be a more pleasant experience.