February 3, 1976Dear Family,
Hello am now in Hikkaduwa – a real tourist spot – we (Mike, Mary & myself) have really been disappointed here as it is very expensive, and very tourist oriented. I don't know if I told you but they thought they had a small house here for 2 weeks – but that did not work out – so the three of us together got a nice room at a small hotel (3 rooms in all) right on the beach! In the morning the waves are nice – but by the afternoon & evening they really get big!
I'm enclosing some stamps for John – it's up to you if you want to send them to him or wait till he gets home in March.
–– Now Wednesday morning –– almost 7:00 – everyone else is still asleep so good time to write letters – you'll never believe what I'm learning to do – play cards. It's a good past time here. So far I've got pinocle (sp?) down pretty good – sometimes I mess up bidding – tend to bid to low! I always think – gee – if you all could see me playing cards you would not believe it.
We have had fun here – twice we rented goggles to see the fish & coral areef. But because of the necessity for my glasses I could just set the goggles on the water and then look down – which let me see some fish & some of the coral reefs – but nothing like what I could have seen if I could have gone under swimming.
I'm beginning to get a tan – but the back of me is RED – laid out too much on my back one day! The water here is really clean – but the people are unbelievable. They walk around w/ a sheet around them – then on the beach they lie nude on the sheet! I'm not talking about the natives. I'm talking about the young people from the U.S., Europe & Australia. They all try – it seems – to take the prize for being disgusting! Also you walk past them and they want to borrow $ for food, for a way back to Colombo where they have $ waiting for them (according to their stories), etc.
Because of all this – we are willing to leave the beautiful beach – this morning we are going to Ratnapura – that is what is called the gem mines of SRI LANKA. Ceylon is known for its gems – everywhere they are sold – but you have to be careful – or you will get something cheap for a high price. Also BATIKS are sold everywhere! That is cotton w/ designs in it – done by hand w/ wax and dyes – I'm not sure exactly how. You can buy really nice wall hangings, shirts, long skirts, etc. – Alot of batik work is done here – also alot of mask making. Masks are usually very colorful – and very unusual designs.
To get to Ratnapura – which isn't all that far away – if you would go the way the crow flies – we will spend at least 6 hours – if things go right! We 1st go to Kalutara (north of here on the sea) then to Ratnapura by bus from there.
I'm not sure exactly what or how much I had told you all about Mike & Mary. They are from Iowa – a good Catholic family – have 12 children in there family. Last year (1974) their father died in a car accident. Mike taught English in Afghanistan. He has already traveled through Bangkok, Malaysia, etc. – really anxious to get there because he says it's Western w/ a touch of the Orient. They keep saying – come on & go w/ us – I would love to but don't feel I can take the chance to get the same charter flights they have out of Calcutta & Burma. Also my $ isn't enough to be buying plane tickets home – to live on, I have plenty, but not for both.
Mary is just a year younger than me – she has worked at Nantucket, Mass the last 3 summers – which is where she made her $ as a waitress. Has always worked in Restaurants so we have alot in common. We always laugh here & say we should teach them to be efficient – restaurants here are very slow – food comes in shifts – Food here is very expensive & spend about $2.00 a day for food. In India I never spent that much! Here instead of rice it is noodles. Alot of foods are rationed here – sugar for one thing. We should have brought sugar from India! In India on the streets they sell sugar cane juice and also pieces of sugar cane – whre you chew them, get the juice out and then throw away the pulp.
Fruit here is cheap – every morning we have fruit. Yesterday I had prawns – they were devilled – really hot – kept eating bread & butter which help cut it a little!
The bugs here are bad – mosquitoes, flys, etc. – we bought these coils you burn which help alot. I don't know why where you have nice climate you have to have bugs too!
I hope you got my message saying that from now on to send my mail to YMCA Guest House, New Delhi.
It's time for breakfast – I'll add more later –
– Now in Ratnapura – What an experience getting here – just had to take 3 different buses – cost us about 6 Rupees each – less than 50¢! But took almost 8 hours! When we got here we saw a nice hotel right near the bus station but we figured that might be too expensive – so we walked 1 mile about in one direction to a guest house – but no rooms – so we ended up at the hotel near the bus station – paying $7.5 Rupees a night each. That is about 60¢. The room is nice – the bathroom is down the hall. We all get 1 room together – last night we played some more cards – when I get home I'll be ready to take all of you on ––
This is beautiful country – hilly – everything nice & green. But here as in India you can see great poverty – I've had some of the best curds & honey here – it's a desert [sic] – also people eat it for breakfast. Ate egg hoppers one day – something like a fried pancake –
Please tell everyone hello for me – I'v written few letters & I hope people understand. Just 5 weeks & I'll be home ––