As a child, most of our holidays were spent in Trinco. Despite the war, the pull would be too great for my dad to resist. He was in his element only in Trinco, and holiday after holiday, to Trinco we went.
I have two pictures of Trinco embedded in my mind. One was near the harbour. We’d been out for a walk early morning. My grandfather looking curiously out of place in the backdrop of the sea, standing tall with a walking stick, woollen vest (he felt cold in the mornings) and hat; my sister, chubby and shiny eyed and I, young, bespectacled, awkward, grinning at the camera. I loved walking along the harbour. My grandfather would point out interesting sights and if we got up early enough, we’d be able to buy fresh fish as soon as the fishermen pulled into the harbour with their catch.
The other picture is at Fort Frederick. I’m posing with a deer and I’ve got the most delighted expression on my face (‘Maa! Look! I’m feeding a deer!’)
I’ve ‘done’ most of the touristy stuff ages ago so when the war ‘concluded’ years later, I was all ‘been there, done that, bought the t-shirt’ when everyone rushed to Trinco.
The Fort Frederick I remember was a solitary one with heavy security and lazy deer. Earlier they wouldn’t let vehicles in. So that long drive that vehicles take from the entrance to Koneswaram Temple? We had to walk it. Lovers leap fascinated me. There’s something morbidly beautiful about the sheer drop into turquoise waters, lined by rocks.
We’d been to the Hot Springs years ago, taken the ferry to Kinniya (the ferry has been discontinued now. There’s a bridge instead. Safe, but terribly boring. I miss clutching the edge of the railing, looking at the murky waters, thinking I’MGOINGTODIETODAAAY), eaten oysters in Kinniya, barfed out oysters in Kinniya, visited Muttur, wandered through old cemeteries and been to Nilawali.
When I went back home for the Summer, we returned to Trinco for a very overdue visit. We hadn’t visited Pigeon Island before, so that was priority on our agenda. We were also given a tour of the Prima Factory (we knew a guy who knew a guy).
Pigeon Island was beautiful but I was a little appalled at how crowded Nilaweli had become. The once pristine, isolated beaches had been taken over by grandmothers gallivanting in kaftans and bus loads of school boys.
My dad casually mentioned that this was a good bathing spot which he used to frequent as a boy and we wanted to get away from the crowds, so we headed to Marble Beach. I don’t know if it was because we went on a weekday or if tourists haven’t caught onto it yet, but apart from three families the entire beach was deserted and the waters were absolutely heavenly. Think blue skies, perfectly still water, clean shores and coconut trees – the kind of stuff postcards are made of. I don’t have any good pictures, sadly (I was too excited about getting into the water).
I’m a little curious as to how the name came about but Marble Beach is maintained by the Air force. You aren’t allowed to take any food beyond the car park and there aren’t any hotels in the vicinity so you’ll have to rough it out with sparse, open air shower areas. The thing is, for all my love for the sea I *shuffles feet* can’t swim. And Marble beach is perfect for the aquatically challenged like me. The boys went snorkelling (the Air Force has instructors who supervise) but I was perfectly content floating along.
After we returned to Colombo I was told that the Air Force runs a beach resort here. They also have a site with a very long domain name. I didn’t feel any ‘whispers of the wind’, but I can vouch for the sunburn. Listen to Baz Luhrmann. Wear sunscreen.
I wish I’d discovered this place a little sooner. Its tough finding nice, isolated beaches back at home this days – definitely heading back here the next time we head to Trinco.