|Blue's travels around Sri Lanka|
|Author - Veronika Peskova
Friends call me Bobby Blue. I am small and fast and that's why I train karate twice a week. My parents say I can’t stay still for a minute. I like football, granny and grandpa's cottage and our black tomcat Devil. He has little green eyes and he is so fat I can barely lift him. His favourite thing is to stuff himself into the smallest space he can find and fall asleep there. Last time I found him in a paper box from sneakers. He was having a nap and did not care at all about half of his body hanging out of it.
Older brother Viktor loves to play computer games and he is afraid of everything. And he is also afraid for me. During summer holiday we were at grand parents at the cottage on a small hill at the end of the village. I was running up and down the road, kicking a ball and having a great time. You can call yourself lucky if you see a car more than a few times a day here. And anyways brother kept checking, all spooked, in case a tractor shot out of somewhere and hit me. He even called parents to come and get me because granny and grandpa cannot take care of me. He is sometimes too careful but I still like him. Mom has long blond hair, she regularly goes to box trainings and even beats dad in the ring.
I guess I love martial arts and I am fearless after her. She loves red wine, warm green tea and skiing. Dad works in an office. Every day he takes us to school and comes back in the evening. He often calls from home and talks to people that I don’t know about things I don’t understand. He is clever, he likes to read and he thinks long about everything before he starts doing it. Every evening mum massages his sore back and they talk about things that happened that day. I really like to listen to that, but they sometimes tell me to go to my room, that they need to talk. And that makes me mad. As if there was something I could not hear.
Dad has been thinking where to take us for holiday all year. He was speculating about different continents and states. When it looked liked he had decided, he found a reason why not to go there. And so it went on and on. I don't actually care where I go. The important thing is I don't have to sit at the desk next to Beth and listen to constant nagging about her brother damaging her doll, what her parrot does and how she cannot wait to have her first singing gig. She is talking all the time and that drives me crazy. When I grow up, I have to find a girl that is quiet.
“We are flying to Sri Lanka, family”, dad shouted out happily one spring evening. It is lovely there, lots of palm trees and beautiful temples. And we will learn to surf. You are going to like it there. So it is here. I’m flying to Sri Lanka! So far I have seen Slovakia, Austria, Italy and France which are all states in Europe. Now I will be in Asia for the first time, the biggest and the most crowded continent in the world. What is it going to be like? And what shall I pack?
I followed the advice from mom and my friend Francis who often travels with his parents and knows what things you cannot do without. I packed these things:
• Toothbrush and toothpaste
• Sunscreen with SPF 50
• Two pairs of shorts
• Two pairs of socks
• Two pairs of boxer shorts
• Five T-shirt
• Waterproof jacket
• Baseball cap
• Head light
• Travel diary
• Anti-diarrhoea pills
Passport is the most important thing, because without it they wouldn’t let me board the plane at the airport. And everything else can be bought on the spot, like mom says. I wanted to take a trolley case, but my parents put an end to it, saying we would often ride motor bikes and there is no space for suitcases on them. So we have four backpacks altogether, one for each. I and brother we got our own way and have a better version of backpack, because it also has wheels. So when I go through the jungle, I can carry it on my back and when the terrain is good, I draw the handle out and I can pull my luggage behind me.
My holiday is fourteen days longer! We are flying in the middle of June, so parents had to excuse us from school. I am happy cause those last few days there is nothing to do anyway. We only play games and go on trips. And teachers are nicer than ever cause they also look forward to the holidays like us, kids. Beth is sad. She said she has never seen the sea. So I promised to send her a postcard and bring a shell.
There’s chaos at home. Clothes lying everywhere, dad is planning the route and making hotel reservations, mom is doing the washing and checking what everybody packed. Brother is in a sulk, he would rather stay at home. Parents often say he is a teenager. I don’t know what it really means, but he keeps to himself, stays in his room all the time, eats a lot and speaks very little. I am bound to be that way too, they say. Well then I am not looking forward to that.
Devil was in a hotel for cats during our last holiday. Of course he wasn’t happy about it cause his territory shrunk from four huge rooms of our flat to one room shared with other ten cats. Moreover he caught there something and he had diarrhoea. So after that he was offended we left him there and he didn’t let us stroke him for several days. That’s why we are taking him with us this time. It is going to be his first holiday at the sea, so I am curious how he likes it. So far he hasn’t got a clue what adventure is waiting for him and does not care for anything else than where to get some food. Last month he gained a kilo, so outdoors will do him good. He is so lucky he doesn’t have to pack anything. I want to be a cat in my next life. It only sleeps, eats, someone always rubs it and when it is not in the mood, it climbs on a bed at noon and nobody scolds it for that.
D day has come. Brother pretended he had a fever in the morning, but mom of course knew better and sent him shopping to punish him. I had my favourite croissant with butter and ham and tea with lemon and honey for breakfast. I checked if I had my passport and fifty dollars from grandpa for the trip, tidied my room, watered the ficus, the only flower I have.
We took a taxi to the airport, parents didn’t want to risk the tram trolley falling and us stuck in the middle of the route. We picked up the flight tickets, checked in the luggage that went off on a baggage carousel. It’s a mystery to me how the baggage gets into the right plane. That must be a job for a special troop of skilful and beefy blokes, because one man next to us had a twenty nine kilos heavy suitcase. So I think the person working with baggage cannot be in the fly weight division cause such person would get hurt easily. And I also noticed that some people have their suitcase wrapped in cling film that my mom uses to pack my snack for school. Interesting.
Dad wanted to think back to his youth and booked a room in a hotel that hasn't got even one star. At least I didn't see it anywhere. I am staying with brother, which is unusual and on top of that we are sharing the bed. Last time we slept like that at the cottage, brother kept hogging my half and I didn’t get any sleep. In our room there is a bed with mosquito net, a table, toilet and shower with cold water. Even when I turn the fan on the maximum, the air almost doesn’t move. I guess there are probably fifty degrees in here. Dad keeps persuading me that it is “only” thirty in the shade. There is a small terrace with a table and two chairs outside. We have a lovely garden full of trees in bloom and a monkey family and squirrels sometimes jump on our roof. There is a net stretched between two palm trees, where I like to laze and watch lizards basking in the sun. Devil is ecstatic. His fur is limp and sweaty. He wants to drink all the time and does not want to eat. It is probably a bit of a shock for him, but I believe he will get better soon.
The hotel owner is an older woman that is about one and half metre tall and wide. She is almost always serious and I know why. The thing is that she has got only two upper teeth. She is probably embarrassed. We can choose from two kinds of breakfast - pancakes with fresh fruit or fried egg with sausage and a pile of beans from tin. She serves it with probably half litre cups of gorgeous black tea that I drink with sugar and small round green fruit. It tastes like lemon, but does not look like lemon. Maybe it is cloned lime with lemon. Dad is not really fond of sweet food so he has an egg every day and he fears what it will do with his cholesterol.
Parents paid us a surfing instructor. I suspect they wanted to get rid of us for half a day, but thanks to that brother smiled for the first time since we came. Otherwise he does not let his joy show much. Now he is usually a pain in the neck. I have to find a way how to avoid being a teenager. Our instructors are young local boys that can do a handstand on a surf board. They have dreadlocks, colourful vests, muscles and tan that I really envy them. Because I am blond after mom and I can only dream about bronzed skin. Mom gives me sunscreen with SPF 50 and even then I sometimes get sunburnt. The teaching ashore was in English, so brother translated something and I got the rest thanks to what they showed us. We learned jumping on the board and pose with bent knees. We had really long and thick boards. They are called longboards. I like much more short surfs that musclemen ride in advertisements and do various tricks on them, but they say these are more stable and the best for beginners. The boys were pushing us into the waves all day and we were learning to get up on the board. I am light so I usually rode to the shore. Brother had few falls when the wave swept him completely. He then got angry and wanted to give it up. But he changed his mind. Probably because I was good at it and he as the older brother didn’t want to chuck it in. We didn’t see parents for half a day. Then suddenly they were standing on the shore, waving happily and cheering us up, so much that I felt ashamed. When I got to the shore, mom gave me kisses and told me I was great. There was a pretty girl close by, smiling. I wanted to run away.
Next day. My whole body is aching, but I want to go surfing again. Brother is bored already, so he is lying under a palm tree, sipping lemonade and playing games on his phone. I took dad to a surf shop and chose a wet suit. Not only it protects me from the sun, but even after three hours in water I am not cold, which I totally appreciate as a person who turns blue after twenty minutes in warm sea. Nothing is in my way now to surf all day! I am trying to catch some waves myself. The teacher tells me, which wave is good, I paddle few times with my hands and hop on as fast as I can. I only have to keep the balance and the main thing is not to stand too much in the front, because then the tip of the board goes under the water and fall is guaranteed. I had only one break – for lunch. Parents didn’t understand that thanks to surfing excitement I was not hungry and they forced me to eat a hamburger. When I was lying on that full belly, I didn’t feel that great. I told them so! As a surfer I know what I should and shouldn't do.
My four basic surfing advices:
- Sunburn types should wear a wet suit
- Do not eat hamburgers or other heavy meals
- Jump on both your feet as fast as you can (do not stand up from one knee)
- Do not stand too much in the front, the tip then goes under water
I grew fond of local fruits. You can buy it even in the marketplace. Although it is messy there and it doesn’t really smell nice, there are such kinds of fruit that I have never seen here in a supermarket. Even mom did not know how that big green fruit with spines was called. One lady tried so hard to make us buy it that we did. The hotel owner offered to prepare it for us. We got each a small bowl with grey water, ice and there were white bits of our purchase floating. I cannot even describe how horrible the taste was. You have to experience it. Actually it is better not to. Do not eat durian! That is how they call that mega goo. The owner didn’t understand we didn’t like such a delicacy. Well if she didn’t like for example our goulash, I would be surprised too. But otherwise I really like local fruits. For example bananas are smaller and much sweeter than at home. Or juicy pineapple. Or coconut that you can drink from. Yum!
Late in the afternoon mom visited an Ayurveda centre. She explained to me what it was, so I will share the information with you. Ayurveda is believed to be the oldest healing system in the world. It originated in India and it is more than two and half thousand years old. It uses oils, herbs and spices during the treatments and massages. If your body aches or you want to lift your spirits, then they say this is the right thing for you. I said my body ached and it would lift my brother’s spirits, so we would like to go. She smiled and said it was not for us. Then who is it for?
Devil found two friends. They are pussycats. One is black like Devil, with white spot on the chest and spots on paws, the second is all ginger. They keep teasing our homebody and want to play, but he is just lying, pretending to be important and showing them how they bother him. Wonder of wonders, rather than leaving, they are circling him and provoking him with paws. I have to try this tactic on girls.
I woke my brother early in the morning and we went to see the sunrise. We wrote a message for parents and we stuck it on the door, using gum, because we didn't have anything else. We went barefoot a few kilometres on so far cold sand, untouched by sun. We watched local fishermen, who just came with their catch. Hundreds of silvery tuna fish were glistening in the rising sun and I could see drops of sweat on faces of the fishermen, while they were trying to push their boat with all their might up to the shore. A bit further, in front of my favourite bar where I like to have fruit fresh the employees were preparing camp beds and ten people were surfing on the sea. It was a bit cold, the sun was not yet strong. We sat down on the sand with my brother and chatted about all kinds of things. On the way back we met few boys kicking a ball. One word, we split in two groups, marked goals with shells and the game started. Fast running, loops and kicked legs with nice fall into the sand that everybody enjoyed with smile. When we were so tired that we had weary feet, we went to freshen up into the sea. Morning bath is not a bad thing.
|Review - Veronika Peskova