Not so long ago I posted reasons why I love the off-season in my adopted home, Hikkaduwa. They are all perfectly valid reasons and I am looking forward to that experience in a few months again. The peace and quiet, the gentility of the locals, not constantly harassed by having to look after people on holiday (shopkeepers, house owners renting their property, surfing instructors, tour guides, even fishermen sick and tired of having their photo taken at sunset with a catch). People have more time. It’s more chilled out. And the weather isn’t that bad either contrary to popular belief.
Saying that, however, I will miss the tourists. After all it is them that keep my favourite restaurant open, the locals smiling because they are earning, the bus drivers driving less recklessly because there are white people walking on the Galle Road (yes really…most of the time, kind of), my favourite bartender in my favourite bar not scowling because he has to source the ingredient for your particular drink from afar (“ah you want a mojito…just give me 30 minutes to get mint leaves from the market, or we have curry leaves???” – I just made that last bit up but yeah conversations do happen along those lines in the off season – “you want pork? Sorry we don’t have any but we have chicken…”).
The season feels like the town is richer, both materially and immaterially, nothing is too much trouble, anything is possible. People walk with a spring in their step, a purpose, everybody has somewhere to go and wants to go there.
And when it is beautifully sunny the whole vibe steps up a notch – COLOUR. I honestly sometimes catch myself taking out my phone to capture a scene while I am shopping for onions at the market. Tourists are dressed in silly bright-coloured clothes and driving on blindingly white Honda scooters. The place is buzzing and I like it. I gladly wait in the queue at the ATM in town because I am people watching in the sunshine.
Yes it’s busy and fun. I stop in the queue at the ATM and tell an Estonian man that he can only get out 40,000 rupees a day on his bank card. He pulls out 2 others, we laugh. That doesn’t happen in the off season.
I stop at the market. There is fresh basil. That doesn’t happen in the off season.
I stop at the super market. There are fresh button mushrooms and I meet two friends. That doesn’t happen in the off season.
I walk into my friends shop and a Russian girl has bothered to cover herself up with some clothes. That didn’t happen at all until recently when the town kicked up a fuss.
The sunsets are incredible, the ocean is calm and so blue. It’s wonderful.
It’s been so damn good that except for one or two incidents I am ready for the off season for all the right reasons.