Notes on the Geography of Sri Lanka: Town and Country
Pictures taken along the way from Colombo to Anuradhapura.
We're doing this by road, but once there was a railroad north to Jaffna. The southern part of the line is still there, with some bridges worthy of heritage status.
We've slowed down at Katupota, a few miles west of Kurunegala. Why all the people?
It's warm outside, so there's a large area under cloth.
Cool off with fresh fruit juice.
Do we have a way to cook vegetables?
The competition. The gentleman on the right, wielding the wicked knife, was selling coconuts.
The water in Sri Lanka's king coconuts is especially good.
There's some fairly specialized merchandising. Salt in this case.
The merchandise isn't all local, though; out back there's a parking lot with the trucks that brought a lot of it.
Prankster: a friend decided that a serious pose wouldn't do.
Why not clothes?
Up the road, at Tambuttega, this merchant has apples from China. That's a testament to modern logistics and rising incomes.
Across the road, these Chinese-made hand tractors, hint at one source of that income.
The tractors are equipped with cultivators.
There's enough money for motorcycles and bicycles, too.
A hand tractor and cultivator in a rice paddy, where the soil must be made impermeable by through mixing, or puddling. Often it's still done with animal traction.
Getting the rice paddies ready.
A month later, the farmers will be sprinkling urea.
Gottcha! Any ideas what this is?
We're just west of Wariyapola. Next to it, a pond with a million soaking coconuts. See the connection?
We'll pull the soft husks up here and shred them.
We'll fluff the fibers.
Then we'll dry the coir by spreading it out like super mulch. You can wade through it--it's very soft.
Time to bale.
The results are tidily stacked.
And this? Sri Lanka is famously divided into two parts, the wet zone and the dry. The north is the dry, and without irrigation it's pretty barren. Recognize the tree in the background?
Close-up. It's widely grown in the United States and used for barbecues.
Right: it's mesquite. Check the house?
It's traditional mud-and-wattle.
The roof thatching is admirably done.
One source of income is selling firewood. It's not cheap--about a dollar a stack.
Up in Anuradhapura, finally, there's a town with a lot of modern trappings.
A few miles north of town, there's a corner store. See what's just to the left of the yellow sign?
Yes, it's a phone booth--actually a cell phone mounted in the booth by the enterprising storeowner on the left. He says he takes a 100 percent markup on the per-minute charges he pays the phone company.
How far does the infrastructure reach? This far at least. The owner of this station at Anuradhapura also runs a fleet of buses.
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