|Up very early to meet at 5.40 for an early cup of tea or coffee and then departure at 6. We boarded our safari vehicle, much better than yesterday's, and headed to Yala National Park. It's the largest National Park in Sri Lanka and is the best location to sight leopards. When we got to the park entrance, we discovered there was a huge queue of vehicles waiting to get in. We didn't have to wait too long, however, and we were soon in the park.
It didn't take us long to realize our driver was not the best in the park. In fact, his tip diminished to almost nothing by the time we were finished. He often positioned the vehicle for his best vantage point, and ignored our cries of "stop" many times. Although we didn't see the elusive leopard, we did see elephants, wild boars, buffaloes, deer, crocodiles and many species of birds, including a number of peacocks strutting their attributes. Towards the end of the safari, we visited one of the beaches where the tsunami of 2004 hit with a vengeance, killing 48 people including a number of Japanese and German tourists. Apparently, the view at the beach had been marred by sand dunes, so the powers that be removed them, causing much more damage than there might have been.
We were very fortunate to be on a road by ourselves when a family of elephants decided to cross. It was fantastic, especially when the calf came so close we could have touched it! We stayed there for quite some time. Near the exit of the park, we came across a large number of stopped vehicles - there was an elephant with large tusks on the road in front of us. Prasanna tells us that in the more than 100 visits to the park, he has only seen one a handful of times. There was a lot of competition to get in the best position, and we also had to be careful not to be too close as they can be very dangerous.
Back to the hotel for a late breakfast, again with a huge choice. Chris finally got to try wood apples (horrible), soursops (beautiful juice, but yucky to eat), and guava, which was okay. More eggs, of course, and, for once, some really nice soft cheese. We have been eating a lot for breakfast, but, in general, haven't had lunch, so it has works out well.
Unfortunately, the day went downhill from here. Not long after Chris got back to her room to pack, she got very ill and had nothing left of her breakfast. We were scheduled to leave at 11.30 for our 4 hour drive to Mirissa. Chris climbed into the front seat and was basically a zombie for the entire trip. During the journey, Rob also began to feel quite ill (he'd been feeling nauseous on and off for a number of days) and we had to stop a couple of times for him, once just in time. After this, Chris & Rob reclined both their seats and basically slept for the rest of the way. Marilyn & Kevin were not very sympathetic - making tasteless jokes and offering food.
When we finally got to Mirissa, both Rob & Chris went straight to bed. Marilyn & Kevin wandered about the hotel, which is really lovely. We have superior rooms, which are on the ground floor and each has its own swimming pool. They also have an outside shower across the courtyard (no inside shower) Luckily, dressing gowns are supplied as the upstairs rooms can look down into the courtyards, although not the showers themselves. The hotel is on the beach, and has a lovely pool also. It's a beautiful spot. Kevin was even deciding on lobster for dinner, when, before too long, he was also sick. Chris and he were both vomiting and had diarrhea at the same time. Luckily Rob didn't get any worse and Marilyn didn't get sick at all, and did a good job as our nurse.
The real dilemma was for tomorrow morning - we were meeting at 6 to go whale watching for 4 or 5 hours! After a very short discussion it was decided that this wasn't really an option and Kevin rang Prasanna to find that we could postpone it to the following day. It was then a very early night - neither Chris nor Rob had got out of bed anyway, and the hope is that all are well in the morning.