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Ella, Sri Lanka

08 Mar
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Rawana Ella, Sri Lanka

I was waking up around 5 am when I start hearing the rain coming down on the roof. The weather is unstable in March, ready in a way for the hot season and the monsoon. And in the hill country, where the tea plantation are located, is raining even in the dry season. I did all my transfers but I noticed that the Internet did not work. At 8:30 the host placed the breakfast on the table and told me that a tuk-tuk driver will come to pick me up at 9:00 am for a trip to the tea factory. I had my breakfast of papaya, bananas and pine apple but meanwhile I started to work on the blogs and post them and everything got delayed till about 9:30 am when I left to visit the tea factory that is located at about 8 km. The tour was excellent, about one hour of explanation and technology of this old trade. The machinery that separated the good leaves from the bad ones is the same technology used 160 years ago, obviously improved with current control systems. The process is relative clear, the tea being laid on some plates and dried, further separated about 4 times, the tender tea leaves from the one that are coarse, dried in hot air, sieved based on size and filtered electronically again with new type of machines creating about 4 types of different first quality tea. The bad tea that was separated in the first step will be used as second quality tea. He explained extensively in engineering terms the difference between the green and the black tea and in the end we all tasted four teas, that differed in lightness, flavor and color. The best quality tea is made only in the dry season months. This was considered first quality, but not a special “vintage” because the weather was damp. Also, the bigger the tea is, the lighter it will be.
At the end I bought a small pack to bring it home and I left back to the guesthouse. We looked on the way to find the women who were picking leaves but they either left or we found some that were packing to go home because of the rain. At the guesthouse the friendly Swiss with whom I had a beer yesterday were on the patio admiring the rain. We chat a little bit about the tea factory and they made up their mind to go in a visit, no matter that they have been before in Nuwera but it turned out to be just a 10 minutes fast tour with almost no information. But meanwhile we decided to go together by bus to the waterfall, 6km away from Ella. And it was worth it! We got some rain coats from the guesthouse and left to the bus station. The bus (25Rs) is running almost every 10 minutes and dropped us in front of a majestic waterfall. Rawana Ella is impressive coming down from the top of the mountain and continuing under the road in a wild river. We hanged out there for a while playing with the monkeys who were coming to us signing like humans from their hand to give them some food and eventually took the bus back. In Ella we wished each other to have a good trip and they went to the tea factory and I went home to pick up my luggage. The owner gave me a free ride to the bus stop where his sister, who found me yesterday, was waiting for me and called the contact in Tissa telling him that I will board the 2:40 pm bus, (2 1/2 hours, 112Rs). In the bus stop I was joined by a French living in Moscow and his Russian girlfriend and we started to chat when some school kids who were around came to us and asked if we have to give them some school pens. Last time when I was in India many kids asked me for pens and I did not have any and this time I decided to bring some. I gathered an immensity of pens and pencils that were all over the house from my kids and I put them in a plastic bag that may weigh about 2 pounds. So I started to pull out pens and give it to them. They were thrilled and started to come in droves till, after I thought that everybody got at least one, I closed my bag. Meanwhile the bus showed up and we boarded and during the ride I had a mesmerizing discussion about Russia with the Frenchman, one of the most interesting and fulfilling conversation that I had till now in this trip. The bus was going to Matara. I got off at the Tissa junction and I was taken over by some touts who wanted to hijack me to their businesses with the classical touting rap that I know so well. But finally my contact came and brought me to his hotel, Travelers Home, a set of beautiful chalets surrounded by palm trees and I got a beautiful room with a terrace from where you can watch the time go by. After some phone calls home, in which I found out that it is a snow storm in New York and there are already 5 inches of snow and the schools were delayed, I went to eat in town, at Roots, a one street affair with gas stations and some banks. Meanwhile I spoke with the owner for the tomorrow safari and I already paid about 5900Rs, a not so bad price for a 6 hours tour of the park, considering that about 3500Rs is just the park fee. I have to go to sleep to make sure that I wake up at 5:00 am before all the animals….

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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Blog, Sri Lanka

 

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