Monday, February 22, 2016

Surprise! Surprise! A Road Trip!

Lipton told me not to schedule anything for this last Saturday. For the whole day and night.

Hmmmm, what could he be planning?

After almost 14years of being together; friends, photo partners, business partners, companions, mother/son, he knows me. He knew that the one place I’ve always wanted to go to was Minneriya, to see the elephants.

And that’s where we went! Yippee! I was so happy, even though I knew that it was totally the wrong season and that we’d be lucky to see any elephants. For them to gather it has to be the dry season, with little water in the park except for some in the lake. Now the lake is full to the brim and there were storm clouds gathering (instead of elephants) – more water for the elephants.

The 4-hour drive up to Minneriya wasn’t too bad, except for the construction at Kurunegala. Even early in the morning it was a pain, and I was sure all our tires were going to explode from all the potholes.

Buddhi, our friend and photo editor/album designer, came with us, so that added a bunch of fun and laughter! When we turned into the Minneriya National Park we all giggled and took photos of the park’s sign. I think we were just relieved that the drive was over.

The first thing we saw was a darling little deer lying contently at the edge of the parking lot. It’s the first time I’ve ever petted a deer. So super. When Buddhi petted it, the deer closed her eyes, loving the attention. Nice start!


Lipton chose a comfortable jeep, thinking of how one of the more uncomfortable ones would rattle my bones. He then chose a tracker and we were set to go.

I chose to stand, let the wind whip through my Annie Lennox hairdo. It was delightful, except when we’d plow through dips and potholes and I’d knock into the metal bars I was trying to hold onto. I actually haven’t checked for bruises, but I was sure I’d be covered. Lipton suggested I sit down but I wanted the full ‘tracker’ experience.

All of a sudden the real tracker tapped the roof and the driver stopped. There in the middle of a clearing was a big bull elephant, about 25-30 years old the tracker told me. He was munching away at a tree and some grasses. So lovely to see a Sri Lankan elephant without chains on! It made my heart sing.


Very slowly the bull walked toward the jeep, munching grass while he walked. I was excited. We all were. I’m not sure if Lipton or I had the camera, but whoever had it was clicking away.

Apparently the driver got scared with the elephant being so close, so he started the jeep’s engine and took off. Goodbye Ellie.

Throughout the journey we saw the national bird; a Jungle Fowl. It looks like a rooster, but with brilliant colors and a wonderful gold crest atop its head that shines as if spotlighted. I actually spotted that! Woohoo – what a tracker! I also spotted a fox trotting across the road, disappearing quickly into the jungle. At that moment there was also a peacock in full bloom perched on a tree branch near the jeep and a young monkey that was up to posing for the camera. All three creatures at the same time!


We got drenched from a giant downpour and so we knew we wouldn’t see any more elephants, but we were happy with our giant bull’s appearance. And so knocked and battered from the jerking jeep, we arrived back to the park’s center.

Since we were so close to Dambulla, we decided to go see our dear friend Laki Senanayake at his place, Diyabubala. I had just called Laki the day before to say goodbye to him, that I wouldn’t make it up to see him. Great! Another surprise! Seeing Laki was better than seeing a whole herd of elephants. He’s been a dear friend for the almost 14 years I’ve lived in Sri Lanka. I love him to the moon and back and loved spending time with him in the calm of Diyabubula.

Laki's giant sculpture that greets you
at the entrance of Diyabubula.

It was a glorious day. Thank you Lipton, my dear, dear, dearest friend. There are no words to describe how much I love you and will miss you. Hurry up and get your USA Visa!

For the curious – ShadeTree Productions is continuing, collaborating with Jeshan Njthjyanandan – into ShadeTree Productions & J&M Photography. These guys are awesome, talented, creative and super!

To book your weddings, homecomings, waleemas, all your events; call Lipton at 0777.387735. He and Jeshan will capture your moments!

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