I ambled into town, nervously looking out for white faces. I rode past a couple of decent looking places to stay in, but instead opted to head straight into town and get to the other end, not sure if I’d ever have the energy or interest to explore the area the rest of the day. Over the next 1000 odd metres, all I crossed were four auto rickshaws, three bars, a swanky supermarket, two roadside food joints, a row of beachside hotels, and one hostel. Surprised at the lack of human interaction, I parked my bike at the side of Arugam Hostel (erstwhile YMCA Hostel) and rushed in to find myself a retirement pad. Two steps in, and I ran into a young girl shouting, ‘Daddy, we’ve got a visitor!’ She ushered me up the stairway and into the bar sit-out, where her father, a Dutchman dressed in beach shorts and a baggy vest, was sipping on a chilled coke with a smoke in hand.
Nearly two weeks on the road and not once had I been greeted with such welcoming grace. The Lankans were a kind community, but this warmth was different, maybe a bit more familiar.
‘Hi, you guys got room for me?’
‘Yep, we usually lend out individual beds, but since you’re our first visitor in six months, feel free to enjoy the entire the room. Cheers mate.’
For just INR 400, I had the luxury of a double bed, a bunk bed, and a refrigerator. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined this sort of opulent comfort. I spent the next couple of hours washing my clothes, giving the bike a good scrub, and treating myself to a rather spacious cold shower.