Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ella Rock

It is not just Muslims who have a call to prayer at sunrise…here in Sri Lanka the Buddhist monks welcome the day by chanting at sunrise for a good 30 minutes (or at least so it seems). Today, however, it was quite fortuitous that it woke us up. Orange rays were seeping in through the thin curtain and a quick look outside verified a spectacular sunrise - well worth getting up for. We grabbed our cameras and spent the next half hour variously snapping pictures, sitting in awe of the beauty, and listening to the monks weave their song. Uplifting and calming start to a great day.

Have I mentioned breakfast here? It seems that the breakfast of choice, at least for foreigners, is fruit plate, eggs fixed somehow, and toast. While I love fruit, I just confess I am getting a little tired of the same old, same old every morning. Here I was pleased to find homemade toast rather than the white balloon bread found elsewhere but still...I will look forward to our regular variety when we return home.
The local road

We headed up to Ella Peak, accompanied by two of the self-appointed guide dogs that hang out at the guesthouse. The trail begins not far from our place so we strike out up the road, down 274 steps (but who's counting) and down to the local walking path...the railroad tracks. There are only three trains that come through the area, one at 8 something in the morning, one at 1:30 and one, coincidentally, right as I am writing this (6:46 pm). The trains are very slow moving - especially when you've been living in Japan with bullet trains - and very loud. Everyone just walks along the tracks - probably a good 2 miles or so to get to the trailhead that actually heads across the waterfall and up the mountain.
Ella Rock from the Ambiente Guest House
It's really a good thing we have Kapilla with us - we would have never figured out which dirt trail heading off was the one that we needed to take. The trail wove its way across the river, through more tea plantations, past the farmers' fields and finally up the hill. All along the dogs cavorted and frolicked, barking the cow we came up, rolling in the mud puddle, and dashing between our legs to get in front of us as the self-appointed leaders. It was almost a 2 hour hike  to get to the top for breathtaking view of the valley. The green of the surrounding hills was luscious - especially when you normally live in a desert where everything is a uniform sand color. The receding mountains shifted to deeper shades of green and finally the purples, so famous in Asian pictures. We sat and just soaked up the beauty. Sadly, the pictures hardly do it justice.
View from the top of Ella Rock

Now...those dogs...they're fickle. One of them decided that he had fallen in love with another hiker who happened to have brought some food along and was eating. Instant sorrowful-eyed, one bite away from starvation begging began and the guy was sure he had just made a friend for life. The other dog decided to leave with us, to escort us down the hill...after wall, we might have gotten lost without his services. We honestly expected the other dog to join us but he really did latch onto the guy on top of the hill...he must have had some great food! It was actually tea time - hours later - before he made his way back to the guesthouse.
Smart dog, in the grass...

I know I wrote as if the dogs live here at the guesthouse but really, they just live here...very few people really have dogs here, they just live with the people but many don't seem to belong to anyone. They are amazingly friendly for the most part and totally trusting - of people walking by as well as cars. These animals sleep in the road, horn honks don't make them move, and the drivers will stop for them and go around them. It is really quite amazing.

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