As a word of explaination, I once spent two months living in a little village in Maragalakanda, close to Moneragala back in 2004. My purpose, living there without electricity or running water, was to study bird diversity in an agroforestry scheme for my MSc. This was when the photography bug first bit so there are some tales worth telling and some photos worth showing, though the latter were for the most part taken with a dinky Canon G3. The first of the Moneragala Chronicles is a slightly edited version of a post I wrote for a blog I used to maintain a long, long time ago.
Everybody has those rare moments in life where it all comes together, everything is, for a breathless moment, perfect. One of those moments occurred for me in the backwoods of Sri Lanka in Moneragala where I spent two months in a village doing research for my MSc. After a 5am start which due to unfamiliarity of locations turned into an 8am start, my assistant Nuwan and I took a bone-mashing eight hour bus ride in what was a blatantly falsely advertised air-conditioned intercity bus, a trishaw ride over roads that hadn't seen tar since World War II and finally another hours bus ride over more treacherous roads. The sun had just set as we strapped our equipment to our backs and walked 30 minutes through the undergrowth to the house we were staying in for the period of our research.
After a cup of sweet tea by the lantern light to refresh ourselves we then wandered down to the nearby stream to bathe. I hadn’t been to Sri Lanka for over two years and it felt amazing to re-immerse myself in an experience that was so peaceful and timeless after suffering so much to get there. There was still enough light in the sky from the faded sun to silhouette the tops of the mora trees and kitul palms. The water gurgled in a million tones, trickling through the pools and rushing through the bathing pipe, all the while fish were almost painfully nibbling at my feet. Innumerable birds from salelinnias to grey hornbills fluttered and called in the tree-tops searching for their night time roosts adding to the steady chorus of the cicadas.
The final touch to this magic, as we washed the city and town’s dust from our bodies were the fireflies which came out as the last bit of light faded. Sitting on a rock, taking in the little globules of green light drifting in and out of the trees while geckoes skittered through the rocks, I was glad to be home. I finally realized what it was about me that was stuck in our small island, my sense of place. I knew everything would be good.