Reception of Dutch Admiral Joris van Spilbergen at the
Counrt of the Maharaja of Candia, Ceylon, July 1602

SRI LANKA

1978

JOURNEY

Ben Oostdam

May 1

(please click to enlarge)
I got up early on this MAYDAY Monday and spent an hour taking a bath, shaving,doing laundry and general clean-up. Because it was a (Bank) Holiday, all stores were closed and it took Sjoerd and me some time to find a nice native restaurant where we had a marvelous breakfast for a mere 8 rupees. It consisted of curried eggs, squid, bread, icewater and papaya. We were joined by two Californian girls who had been staying here for two months already and were full of praise for Sri Lanka, Colombo and the people.
Next, we walked to the Canadian Embassy where he picked up mail for the first time in five months. On Friday, he plans to board a schooner and sail to Mauritius, from where he will fly to Namibia. He now went off on his own and I took a bus to go to the Thai Embassy. Although they had assured me on the phone that it would be open, it had in fact moved from the address I had secured, so that it took me another hour of walking around searching for "Flower Road = 10 Sir Ernest Silva Mawatha" where I found to my dismay (this May) that the new Embassy was in fact closed. Fortunately, a young boy in a Thai shirt, whom I addressed in Thai to ask how to get a Thai visa for my visit, told me that was only required if one stayed in Thailand for more than two weeks. Hurrah!!
I ran into a congregation of red shirt demonstrators near the Russian Embassy and decided to take a taxi back to the hotel, where I took a shower since I was sweaty and tired. I rested a bit and at noon 'bel dobt' (exactly) moved to the neighbor hotel to drink ice coffee and to read TIME magazine; I also wrote 9 postcards (Parents, Kleins, Mercia, Postles, Alexander, Mobley, Atao, Esen, Viet friend from Mauritius).

I was then practically dragged out of my chair by a group of loud American ladies on a luxury trip who took me for a Dutch Burgher first and a PA Dutch Amish traveler next, so I had to give them a lecture and set them straight.

About 15:30 I walked to the Galle Field
again where a huge and happy mass of
people was celebrating and parading
We were also treated to a frightening
"Dance of Four Helicopters"
as well as demo overflights and
dangerous Immelmann manoeuvres
by a squadron of jet planes

After drinking a yellow King coconut's water and eating some salted mango, I visited Oberon and bought a R 180 sapphire. Inside an empty cathedral I saw a very long batik curtain hanging next to the altar. Next, I joined a long table with ever changing customers eating an all you can eat for R 25 Ceyfish dinner special with unpeeled shrimps, octopus and squid. I was sitting next to a pretty girl who finally screwed up enough courage to impress her mother and fiance by addressing me in English.
By that time the sun set and I kept joining one group of celebrators after another on my way back. Thunder, fires and lightning alternatingly kept the folks in a happy mood and me thinking of the wisdom of changing a politically potentially dangerous Mayday into a "cultural event", aka "Panem et circenses" - that thought came to me when I passed through a police barricade near my hotel where I arrived by 21:00 to tumble straight into bed...

MAYDAY 1978 COLOMBO - BLO fecit 20100121a/30 - next page - contents 1978 Journey