31 May 2008

Journal 48

December 27 - Yesterday I left Tangalla and walked along the coastal road, but did not see the sea - there were rice paddy fields and a few hills in the way. The road does not come within sight of the ocean, as I recall from the trip I took down here last February to Hambantota. Received lots of rice for alms, both yesterday and today and on neither day was I offered any money, which was normal on other days - in fact on some days I almost despaired of getting food for people offered so much money, and then sometimes did not understand when it was refused. (Sometimes they did understand, so they know that money is not allowed for monks, but offer it anyway - and then complain that the monks are corrupted and don't know why that is so.)

I walked 19 miles, as far as Ambalontota, I had not intended to go so far, but there was a stretch of about 5 miles at the end where there were no temples. I wanted to stop at Nanagama, which is marked in large dark letters on the man, and which I assumed, therefore, to be a large dark town, but it turned out to be a few shops and tea stalls. Ambalontota, which is a large dark town beside a large dark river, is in light small letters on the map. The town, though, even has a museum, archeological, for, I am told, the history of the area goes back more than 2000 years. I did not go to the museum, but did spend the night at a large temple with an even larger cetiya which, I was told, was 1500 years old. Cetiyas, by the wav, are stone structures shaped like, but bigger than, wedding cakes (all edges rounded off) and are supposed to house the ashes of Great Monks. There are, though, an enormous number of cetiyas and only a small number of Great Monks, so most of the cetiyas serve more as a marker identifying the place as a temple.

Ambalontota temple housed not only monks but also cows, one of which had recently given birth to a calf over whom the monks showered pride and banana peels. The cows come into the main hall as they wish, and nobody seems to mind. I don't know if they are house-broken. In the evening the police came to see me and warned me not to go the last 3 miles to Madungala arañña alone, that it was through thick jungle, very dangerous, with no people and full of wild animals. I refrained from pointing out that the towns were also full of wild animals and even the temples ware full of tame animals. A busload of pilgrims arrived, who had been to some ancient sites in the area, and spent the night there; noisy - almost as noisy as the monks. Wild animals would be a relief…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

shouldn't 'man' be 'map; 'wav' be 'way'; 'ware' = 'were'