Thursday, November 24, 2011

Elie Crossings: A hike through Ganapativanum

I love this street sign. 
A warning to those new to Sri Lankan country driving: NEVER honk at an elephant crossing the road, thinking that will make it cross faster. They are not cows. And they could get upset and turn your car over.
I heard that this actually happened to one unfortunate Sewalanka driver who was new and hadn't been much out of Colombo.   

Lawrence and Shani of Hansa Coffee--my favorite Sri Lanka coffee company--came up for a visit to Islander last week. We took a hike around the land in the area known as an elephant corridor, called Ganapativanum.
Fittingly, one of the first things you come across is a Ganesh shrine by side of the dirt road there.

A native of Seattle, Lawrence has an amazing knowledge of the island's flora and fauna. While on this hike, I enjoyed the many tidbits of trivia he'd pull out about one nondescript plant after another..."This is for snakebite." "This is an aphrodisiac." He's an experienced herbalist, and someone I wish I had in my back pocket to pull out now and then.

A delicate Sri Lankan Passionflower and bud.

Amanda points out weaver birds' nests. We found one that had fallen off the tree, and I brought it back to my work space.
 (It now functions as a convenient duster, unfortunately).

An idyllic elephant look-out amidst rice paddy fields. This place looks like a heaven for poets.
As you might imagine, elephants can wreak havoc on crops.

Lawrence's foot vs. Elephant foot

Mushrooms growing in cow dung.

Here's another elephant look-out. 

Here's Steve, attempting to get into that treehouse. 

This hand-carved stone belongs to the time of the Anuradhapura kings. It was used in the dam system to irrigate the paddy fields year-round, although we don't know exactly what it did.

The Islander lake at dawn.

The view from the entrance at sunset. 

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