68 – Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

We visit Unawatuna on a day trip from Galle, desperate to escape the suffocating heat of the magical (but stifling) old fort. Our expectations were not high, but we were very happily surprised. The beach is large and clean, there are lots of restaurants but the sand is wide enough that they are removed from the waterline and do not loom an ugly presence over the water.

And the water is almost still! The waves don’t pick us up and bowl us over. We swim, arms stretching, sides yawning, through fear warm water. Boats are moored and they bob gently, making a rhythmic clanking sound. It’s the end of an incredible trip through this friendly, beautiful, amazingly varied country and we float on the sun dappled surface feeling tired, grateful and content.

Afterwards, we eat at a restaurant at the end of the beach, no more than a few plastic tables pushed into the sand beneath a canopy of sun dried woven leaves. Sri Lankan families walk by. A group of teenagers in matching T-shirts patrol the beach for litter and a Tuk-Tuk selling bread wobbles onto the sand playing a tune like an ice cream van. A man in a wheelchair gets one of the restaurant staff to wheel him to the waters edge, then gets down onto the sand and pulls himself into the sea. It feels just like a beach should – beautiful, calm, but above all, inclusive.

I’m raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Please sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/swimbonnieswim

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