On the way to Cinnamon Bey, Beruwala, Sri Lanka

Our drive to Beruwala from Yala National Park was interesting to say the least.  Roni, our driver, insisted we do some sight-seeings as he put it and therefore first stop was at the ‘only’ moonstone mine in Sri Lanka.  OK I was quite interested, but it was a typical hard sell, first please look at the cinnamon trees, which was actually quite interesting when you’ve not seen them growing before, and then please look down the mine shaft, watch the stones being washed and now come to the enormous shop and try everything on and we can alter the sizes and deliver it to your hotel.  All very well, but we were not in the market for sapphires or garnets, peridots even, but I did buy a rather expensive small bag of ground (ish) cinnamon.  Next stop was the turtle rescue place.  This is one of many turtle sanctuaries and again somewhere I was interested to see, but perhaps not at that very moment.  Dear little baby turtles swimming about in big concrete tanks, and then slightly larger ones and then they get released into the sea.  There were several fully grown ones that were not to be released as they were either blind or deformed.  The very sweet Sri Lankan boy showing us everything insisted we pick them up and hold them which I did rather reluctantly.  There were masses of mosquitoes jumping around on the sand so we didn’t want to hang about too long.  Then after having another donation box pointed out to us after having paid large amounts of money to go in, we were driven off again at top speed to the last place which by then we were really not interested in seeing.  But Roni pulled in, and ushered us into a spice and herb garden.  More mosquitoes, interesting selection of plants and a cup of herbal tea, then please sit on this bench and before we knew it, two ‘students’ appeared to give us a massage.  I thought this was just a shoulder type thing but suddenly half a bottle of oil was tipped on to my head and massaged in rather indifferently.  Not pleased, coming out with my hair stuck to my head, and we had to make another donation and were covered with dirty oily marks all over my T-shirt.  I know all these people are trying hard to make a living, but I am sure, rather cynically that driver Roni was being given something for bringing in his passengers.  All this after a long drive made us hugely relieved to reach our beautiful room in the Cinnamon Bey and a long shower at last.

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