posted on Friday, February 19, 2016

Anuradhapura


I started to head inland, away from the ocean and towards the mountains. Maybe two more days to get fit on the plains before the brutal climb to 2000 metres. If it wasn't for the wonderful people of this island I would say it was an unremarkable cycling days in the tropics. I am starting to grow a particular dislike of endlessly straight stretches of road where you just keep pedalling to the horizon with nothing your eyes can get hold of and say 'when I get there...' Let's not talk about the wind either as I am building up some serious credits here after two days. Although pretty flat today's road was a long alternating of uphills and downhills and the constant heat made it pretty hard at times. This is where the people and why I love cycling come in. I often stopped to drink or eat sweets and breads on tiny stalls by the roadside and each one of them turned into the opportunity to have a chat with the people around, meet the owner family and so on. It's a young country, it strikes a European to see so many children around eager to try a 'hello' as soon as they realise I am a tourist. I find myself waving and answering them always being repaid by smiles larger than their faces. Adults are pretty friendly too only their standard English phrase is a little more grown up and often involves asking 'where you from?' and 'you have wife and children?'
Their English though is soon over if I say that I don't or even worse tell them that the bike is my  bride. Out of pity I have even said yes allowing  them to get on with page two of their conversation book! I reached Anuradhapura, hanging on to life as I cycled through the centre traffic in what seemed hell on a particularly bad day. I arrived early in order to have some time to visit the sacred city. This was possible thanks to Vippalu who whizzed me around the main sites on board of his tuk tuk. The hotel room tonight is really a bargain, just outside town in a very secluded and quiet area. Upali the owner is half Italian too, having lived in Padova for almost twenty years before returning home in very good style!