Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tea Country Explorations

Staying at a converted tea factory in central Sri Lanka. Elevation around 6,500 feet with conditions not unlike San Francisco - cool, wet and windy. The surrounding countryside is a sea of tea plants, small villages and patches of native cloud forest.

Today, we took an early morning hike before a sumptuous breakfast,,,

Morning Hike:

Floating in a rolling sea of tea plants, with distant train whistle sounding like a foghorn, we search in the swells for nature's clues. Bear Monkey jumps in the canopy above to get a view of the bipeds below before leaping away for another breakfast course in the treetops. Tracks of Sampa Deer, Mouse Deer and leavings of porcupine are clear in the muddy trail we follow. A tiny spider decends from far above on a single gosimer thread, holding tight to his parachute leaf, looking to cast a net for some smaller prey. Wild boars have routed in the soft earth, rearranging the forest floor in search of grubs and mushrooms.

Grey Tea factory walls merge with the grey sky while clouds weep, and ground seeps. Tamil women picking tea by hand - a work of endless toil, Tamil men weeding rows with well worn ageless hoes. Barefoot children laugh and chase us pushing, pulling, rolling a rubber hoop with a hooked stick - a game known round the world. One boy runs past, with small hand clasping a crumbled bill - on his way to the village market to pick up something from the store. We leave the village below and ascend the stone steps through the tea plants to return to our windy castle on the knoll, enshrouded in fog to be pampered with padded seats, and silver covered serving dishes, served delicacies and endless hot tea.

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