Escape to Mirissa

Feeling subdued. 

We packed a bag each, slowly and not really with it. 

We asked on the group chat if we needed to book the hotel in advance or just turn up. Nalaka booked us a room at the special rate for volunteers so it was only £10 each instead of £25. 

Another volunteer, Emily, messaged me about coming with us. She was planning to go the next day for a week after leaving the volunteer house but thought she could tag along on the bus with us. 

After lots of back and forth, with Emily trying to get us to leave later, she decided to just go tomorrow anyway!

We got a tuk tuk to the bus station at 12. Our plan was to get there for about 2pm, have a shop, nap and then get on the cocktails. 

At the bus station we knew the bus we had to get on, and asked a local. He took us to the front of the bus station where it stopped and then he was chatting to us. 

There were a lot of police officers at the station, collecting food and supplies for the flood victims. It’s really bad just a bit further south to us. Over 100 people have died and over 500,000 people are homeless as their homes are flooded or washed away. It’s the worst rain they have had since 2003. 

We have all been told that we need to make sure our parents know we are safe as it is making international news and there is also a ‘mark safe’ on Facebook. 

The area we are staying in is not currently at risk, but we have to hope there is not more rainfall. There are dams all across the county and they are breaking due to the amount of rain. 

We saw the bus we needed but there were people clinging onto the doors with only a toe on the actual bus! There was no way we were getting on that one!

We decided to wait for the next one, which should be about 10 minutes. 30 minutes later another bus came, it was just as busy but we had agreed we would just go for it. 

We managed to get on, along with about 200 other people. I was squashed against a seat, with someone stood on my flip flop and just one hand on a rail. Jemma was opposite me at the top of the stairs, holding onto my bag and being wedged into place by lots of locals. 

It was awful! There was no air and it smelt so bad. 

We stopped at the next bus stop and only a few people got off but more people got on. 

The conductor came to get our money, which was ridiculous as he used me as a leaning post and my money was in my bumbag. Somehow I got the money out for Jemma and I. 

The conductor then started to manoeuvre people down the bus and Jemma ended up a few people down the aisle from me. 

The next stop quite a few people got off but again people got on. My legs were aching from standing and trying not to fall over. My arm was aching from clinging on. 

Suddenly the air was filled with the smell of vomit. I was terrified it was a sign that I was about to be sick, but then saw that the boy sat to my right had his head in a carrier bag. Oh the smell was so bad and I gagged. I couldn’t take deep breaths to try and calm down as the air was filled with sick. I missed my long hair which I used to smell in situations like this. 

Finally we stopped at a big town and the bus emptied quite a lot and I managed to get a seat. I could no longer see Jemma and guessed she had got a seat too. 

I had a man looming over me, holding the rails on either side of my seat. The seat was a 3 seater bench and the 2 men that were already sat on it were huge so I’m very glad I’m only little!

We had been on the bus about an hour and a half. I suddenly wondered how I would know to get off. They didn’t announce where we were for each stop, and although I had told the conductor I wasn’t sure that he would remember with the number of people on the bus.

Then I realised we had no idea where in Mirissa the hotel was. We were just going to get off the bus (hopefully) and not know in what direction to go! We hadn’t google mapped it or anything.

At the next stop I got eye contact with Jemma and we just looked as forlorn as each other!

Just as I was really starting to panic, having asked the people around me for Mirissa and just been stared at, the conductor tapped me on the shoulder. Phew! I guess as we were the only white people on the bus we stood out in his memory. 

I stood up and fought my way through to the door. I yelled to Jemma, resulting in stares from everyone on the bus!

We were off the bus and both just stared at each other. That had been such a horrible journey, so much worse than any bus I had been on in India. Jemma said she would never get back on a bus and would pay for a private taxi home. We hugged and I was so glad we were together. 

I looked across the road and there was the hotel. I could have cried with relief!

We crossed the road and walked through. A woman showed us up to the room and we just stood shellshocked. The room was cute with a wooden four poster bed and white mosquito net. The balcony was small but looked out to the sea. 

We climbed onto the bed and ate some snacks we had picked up at the bus station, originally meant for the bus journey. None of them were very nice!

We had a message from Rhian to say she had landed, and also from Jenny who had got to Dehli. 

We drifted off to sleep about 4pm and I woke at 6pm. I had arranged to speak to mum and dad at 6.30pm as it was free wifi. 

I went out to the balcony and called them on FaceTime but that didn’t work. What’s app video call did work and I got to see them for the first time since I had left.

It was very slow and juddery, with most of the conversation just saying hello, can you hear me?

It was so lovely to see their faces, happy and smiley, even if we didn’t really speak. 

I gave up on the video call and just phoned them over what’s app instead. This worked slightly better and I managed to tell them about our bus journey but then it stopped again. 

In the end mum messaged me to say it wasn’t working and so we just had a text conversation. Hopefully in Malaysia the wifi will be better. I was worried that seeing them would make me homesick, especially after such an emotional 24 hours but although I would love to have hug from them I was ok. 

I haven’t really been homesick so far. I miss people of course but I don’t feel I need to go home. It’s strange things that I miss, like singing! I’m a useless singer but in the car where no can hear I used to love to sing. Here I listen to music in my headphones and need to be careful not to start humming along. 

I miss cooking, and being able to eat what I want. The meals here are delicious but they are all very similar and there is no choice. 

I miss human contact, for weeks I went with no hugs! In the past week we have been hugging as a group, and it felt so nice! I hadn’t realised that I missed it. 

After speaking to my parents I got back onto the bed, Jemma was still asleep. I fell back to sleep quickly and then we both stirred at about 8pm. We had slept for hours! 

We debated just rolling over and going back to sleep but we were too hungry. 

I went into the bathroom, a crazy mix of yellow and blue tiles. The water was hot and it was amazing! 

We slowly got ready, neither of us bothering with any make up, and then headed downstairs. 

In the bar, a large table of some of the newer volunteers greeted us. They had been here since Friday and were all very burnt and a little drunk. 

They asked where we had been, knowing we left the house at 12pm. We admitted we had just slept all afternoon and they laughed. 

We had 40 minutes of happy hour left which was half price drinks. We ordered 2 mango daiquiris each and a cheese toastie. I really wasn’t in the mood for drinking but I hoped that if I started on cocktails I might liven up a bit. We had come to Mirissa for a party!

The cocktails were so strong, and the cheese toastie was delicious and came with chips. Each toastie was 4 slices of bread and usually I would have only have 2 but I ate it all!

Once we had finished we moved to another bar along the beach. We started on the beach but then a rain shower moved us inside. It was a very loud bar, with dance music blasting out even though there were hardly any people in the bar. 

We ordered and I just got a bottle of beer. We moved back to the table on the beach and chatted about travelling and the house.

We were all quite tired and after that one drink we headed back to the hotel to go to bed! We got back to the room and there was a huge cockroach on the wall. We were so tired we didn’t even react, we just got into bed under the net and left it!

It wasn’t quite the party night we had planned but we were just wiped out. I think the mixture of the goodbyes and the emotions that stirred, followed by the journey from hell had just taken it out of us. 

I slept well, waking up a bit cold and so turned the air con off about 4am. I slept until 10am which was the longest I have slept for so long!

We got up and had showers, making the most of that hot water. Breakfast was included so we went down and sat on the beach front. We had tea, fruit and egg on toast. It was good and the beach was lovely. 

We got a sun bed each but they were in the shade. We got into our bikinis and put suncream on so we didn’t burn like the other girls had done. 

We walked down to the far end of the beach, chatting about our plans after Sri Lanka and about my time in Goa. 

Both of us so much more relaxed after a good night sleep and in the sunshine. 

We walked back and met the other girls. Most of them were staying in the shade to protect their burn. We stood in the sea chatting and then 4 of us walked to the other end of the beach. It was nice to chat to new people, and share travelling stories with those that had been travelling before Sri Lanka. 

The sea was so rough, big waves and swirly currents so it was too dangerous to go in further than our knees. 

We got back to the hotel and the girls had booked a private taxi to collect us all at 2pm. It was about £8 each rather than 50p for the bus but totally worth it! One of the girls had been inappropriately touched on the bus on Friday when they had travelled and so she was very pleased not to get back on it. 

We only had an hour before the taxi was arriving so we ordered a ham and cheese toastie for Jemma and I to share. We ate it on the beach, getting the last bit of sun possible.

The bus arrived on time and we climbed in, sorted out the money and then all plugged our headphones in!

Looking out the window, as we were whizzing past, I could see the work they were doing to help the floods. Each bridge had been dug out underneath so that the water could get from the land, under the bridge and down into the sea. This meant there was a lot of rubbish in the sea at these points.

We arrived home in good time, I was shocked at how quick it was. 

We showered and then sat in the lounge and watched the end of Cinderella and then the start of Frozen, carrying on with it after dinner. 

We came into the bedroom about 9pm and Jemma, Alex and Labelle sat on my bed with me and we shared our weekend stories. 

Not a very Sazzle filled day. 

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