Negombo, Sri Lanka, August, 2015
I spent the first few days of my journey back to Sri Lanka in one of my favorite towns in this country, Negombo, just north of Colombo, the country's capital. It is home to the country's main airport, Bandaranaike International, named after former Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. He was the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka), serving as Prime Minister from 1956 until his assassination by a Buddhist robe wearer in 1959. Bandaranaike's widow Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, went on to become the world's first female Prime Minister, elected to office in July 1960. But I digress, as I originally began to describe my familial connection to Negombo, which goes back to my grandfather, on my mother's side, who was born in Negombo, married my grandmother Ruth Modder in St. Stephen's Church in Negombo. My mother, Sheila (Modder) Grenier, and her 5 siblings were all born in Negombo, and she married my father, Ronnie Grenier, in the same St. Stephen's Church. I lived in Negombo from the age of 4 until I left at the age of 10 to live in a town named Badulla.
My earliest memories of my childhood goes back to Negombo, where I first began a life-long affinity for the ocean and became familiar with the catamaran, the vessel used by the local fisherman to take them a few miles out to sea to catch their fish that they sell at the local fish markets to eek out a meager living. These vessels were originally built by hollowing out a tree trunk, but the progress of man has brought us into a new era and the boats used now are all fiberglass, making them much more durable and safer than their dugout predecessors.
The image above shows a typical morning with fishing boats returning home after being out all night. On this particular morning the seas were rough with a strong onshore wind blowing at about 20 knots, making it a tough slog navigating these vessels through the uneven swells.
I found this fishing boat, a relic of my past as a child growing up in Negombo, lying along the beach just north of where I stayed. It was a vessel used many years ago by Sinhala fisherman for carrying out a massive net cast out in the ocean and then dragged into the shore trapping all and sundry in its wake. I remember it being 'huge' as a child and but found it much smaller in real life - funny how that works!
It takes quite some skill and experience to bring these catamarans into the shore, including getting past and navigating through the shore break, as show above.
My eye caught the beautiful morning's low light as these catamarans were fishing just outside the fishing village of Palangathure, Negombo.
'Homeward Bound' ~ caught this catamaran coming into shore, into a small fishing village named Palangathure, Negombo. It is a Muslim community, as can be evidenced by the golden domes of their mosque in the background, and that's why they were out fishing on a Sunday morning. They will unload the fish they caught and sell it immediately to the highest bidder in the village. It's a hard life these sea faring men live as they have done for many, many years.
I will always have a special place in my heart for Negombo, and its fisherman, and the beautiful catamarans they utilize to go out to sea and make their catch, the very basis of their existence and livelyhood!