Friday, January 09, 2004

Yesterday morning Karen, the current teammate from Germany, and I took the long, lovely bike ride to Velgam Vihara, a complex of ruins out in the middle of the jungle of Trincomalee Province about 10K out in the countryside near some sacred hot springs in Kanniya. The ruins are 2200 years old and absolutely stunning, especially an ancient statue of Buddha that for centuries has been worshipped by both Buddhists and Tamils of Sri Lanka. I had visited this wonderfully sacred and hallowed place a couple of weekends ago, when I didn’t have my camera since it was being repaired, and I have been jonesing ever since to get back and take some pictures of this incredible place. And here they are with few if any comments – well maybe some along the way; you know how difficult it is for me to keep my mouth shut, even in the presence of unutterable silence – but mostly just the pictures themselves to tell their story along with a poem I wrote last week upon reflecting how moved I had been by the equanimity of the amazing statue.

Oops, first two shots of Arizona type rock formations on the way, then the ruins:

Now the Buddha . . .


windswept staunch body
weather-pocked visage
features blurred by time
2200 years or so
through virtually countless
revolutions of sun and moon
you have stood
so present
just here
an early Buddha statue
right hand raised in solemn benediction
unperturbed amidst the ruins of Velgam Vihara
hidden in the middle of Trincomalee jungle
worshipped by both Tamil and Sinhalese
across numerous warring generations
and on this golden afternoon by me
an Anglo-American alone in Sri Lanka
moved to such full-flowing tears
of bitter-sweet gratitude
by the sublime suchness
of perfect equanimity
unutterable compassion
imbued upon your countenance
not seemingly concerned at all
by the foot long lizard
stealthily crouched
around the back
of your head
or any

What the Buddha sees through each eternity of now . . .

The pleasant young monk-minder who accompanied us around the ruins and his monkey . . .

Holy elephant shit! I was delighted when the monk told us that every dusk wild elephants come through the ruins. Sometime I will come here in the late afternoon and try to get some pictures of the elephants in the ruins . . .

Nuff for now – off to Colombo in a while for dentist appointments tomorrow and Sunday . . .
4:47 p.m., Thursday, January 8, 2004
Trinco Beach Resort Bedroom

The New Year over a week old already; comfortably full after a delicious French Toast and pork sausage brunch. I’ve discovered a local bread, sold by the large loaf which when cut is perfect for pan-frying, either as the French Toast I just deliciously made or a garlic bread, which I did last night for my second meal of the now really good spaghetti sauce because it’s been marinating itself for a couple of days.

So what pictures do I want to play with today. How ‘bout the ones from a picture-taking trek I took around town the other day? Okay, here they are:

Here is a long shot of a Hindu Temple on a hill overlooking the sea on the other side of Fort Frederick. It has been a sacred place for a couple of thousand of years. When the Portuguese came here in the early 17th Century, they destroyed the millenniums old temple pushing it into the sea. Deep sea divers have found some of the artifacts of the ancient temple in the sea below and have rescued them. The antique lingam has been recovered and placed in the current temple which was rebuilt in the mid-18th Century. I have to go back there again and take some pictures – It was too hot for me to ride up a very steep hill and take pictures the other afternoon.

A Buddhist Temple built on the side of the same hill where the Hindu Temple is located when the government relocated many Sinhalese into Trinco Province in the 1950s.


One of the ramparts of Fort Frederick where a Sri Lankan Army Infantry Unit is headquartered. I would love to take a picture of the main entrance of the Dutch Fort built in 1676, but no cameras are allowed on post. Drat . . .

Two pictures of Catholic Icons at the local cathedral for Trincomalee Province . . .

Drat those dastardly electric lines again . . .

The Catholics imitate their Hindu brethren and sisteren in having brightly painted statuary of religious figures, as we shall shortly see . . .

See ? ? ? Actually, the paint of the Hindu temple is a bit faded; I’ve seen much brighter in Colombo and Jaffna last weekend.

The main Hindu Temple in Trinco Town. A couple of weeks ago on a run the brilliant red sunset silhouetted this temple in a blaze of red-tinged glory. Notice the sacred cow, one of hundreds wandering through town untouched . . .

Two lovely shots of small pygmy deer which are protected in a seaside preserve. I had stopped to take the shot of the Buddhist Temple and from the heavy growth of bushes right in front of me out pops this lovely deer head . . .

A deer alone . . .

Deer love re-united . . .

A headless statue of Gandhi. I was quite shocked when I came to take this picture because within just the past couple of weeks he had a head. Vandals roam the world over, but what does it mean that someone blew off Gandhi’s head during the New Year’s celebrations I suppose?

A fishing trawler and a small cruise ship on the bounteous sea . . .

Thursday, January 08, 2004

OK, the blog fixed itself over the night time, while I lolled in forgotten dreamland -- here is what I was unable to upload last night . . .

7:59 p.m., Wednesday, January 7th
Trinco Bedroom Blog Entry

It’s been a while, a long holiday while, since I’ve taken the time to catch up on the blog, so here goes a lot of pictures from the past several weeks of my life with not necessarily a lot of words. Where to begin? The Adam’s Peak climb, yes. I didn’t have my camera until last weekend when I got it in Colombo, cost me a whopping 650 rupees, or less than $6.50 USD, not bad. Would have probably cost me close to a $100.00 in the U.S. of high standard of living, but not necessarily a high quality of life. Anyway. Before I upload the pics, I have to wax incredibly wonder-awed at the brilliance of the full moon on the surging Indian Ocean, whose slippery, silvery waves I can see in full splendor. Absolutely spectacular. It is another Poya Day, a holiday the Sri Lankans have every month on the day before the full moon night. Just magnificently stunning . . .

So okay, here are the pics from the Adam’s Peak climb:

Just the barest hint of dawn’s early light and if you can’t detect frost, well let me tell you we froze our gajongles off. Since I had sweat clean through two layers of clothes on the arduous climb all the way up the freakin’ mountain, when I stopped cold with the 20-25 mph gale force winds it felt like, it twere very, very cold, like the night before Christmas in North America and Europe . . .

And here is dawn at full light spreading across the sky with incredible mountain mists in each crevice of a valley. Too bad civilization cut a couple of electric lines right across the middle of the picture, which I didn’t notice in the viewfinder, when I took it, probably because I was so friggin’ cold.

Halfway down the mountain on the way back, the mist were still gorgeous in the numerous valleys.

Here’s Adam’s Peak in full daylight. There is a reason they have you climb it in pitch black of night. Believe me, if I had seen what I had to climb, no way would I have done it.

The main Peace Pagoda built by Japan. It reminded me of the Peace Pagoda in the Berkshire Mountains East of Troy, NY, that I visited before leaving New York in the Rialta a couple of years ago. Here is a poem I wrote about my visit there in the Fall of 2001:

peace pagoda

expanse of late afternoon sky
swirls eddies of gray-purple-pinks
across the slowly dimming sky
over receding hills and soft-peaked mountains
of distant Berkshires nestling for night

the wind a steady foreground
of melodious whoosings
accompanies the steady rhythm
of Ici's persistent drumming
and cacophonous chanting

the mountaintop
peaked by the soaring pagoda
strewn in haphazard order
with stones grasses trees
twinkling the last of their deep Fall color
rests in sacred music at end of day
enfolding all with great dignity
imbuing all with great equanimity

i walk the sacred ground
am filled with the great great great calm
no thought
no feeling
no sensation
just a deepening presence
of the passing of it all

i leave my mark
two stones holding
the last of Fall's bright flowers
pointing due West
past the large just-being Buddha
toward the road i too soon shall travel

October 26, 2001
Woodland Lake, NY

I had no idea then I would be traveling West so far I would end up in the Far East . . .

Tamil Estate tea pickers doing their work.

Liv and Soraia dwarfed by the huge archway decorated with brightly colored Buddhist flags at the entrance to the main path going the long way up the mountain.

It was a wonderful adventure, and I was most grateful my almost 61 year old bod was able with extreme exertion to carry me all the way up and all the way down Adam’s Peak, but let me tell you I suffered, living on IB Profin for the next several days, being much sorer than I was after running the New York City Marathon in November a year ago . . .

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Two weeks since last entry; the holidays for better or worse have come and gone. The New Year is a week old . . .

Welp, I'm bummed. Apparently the blogger upload a file feature is either blogged down or not working, because I have waited over a minute for it to load and it doesn't, so I am unable to upload the bunches of pictures from the Adam's Peak Climb, a bunch of pictures I took yesterday on a trip around town and some marvelous shots at some nearby ruins I went to the weekend between Christmas and New Year's. Let me at least this entry put up one of two poems I wrote this week:


the big-ship ferry
plies smoothly
across the shimmering sea
of Trinco Bay towards Muthur
as i casually day-dream
mostly oblivious to the grandeur
of the passing scene
until I am dream-stopped, fully captured
by two eagles delicately grasping
each other’s pair of talons
and with a swift unison flap
of wide-stretched wings
make a centrifugal encirclement
of each other, a delicate minuet
around and around and around

not once, but twice am I graced
by their daisy-wheel spinning together
then deftly releasing each other
to fly off side by side into the misty horizon
while high overhead a great flock
of current-gliding sea terns
head for the opposite shore
like a grand corps de ballet of the gods

January 4, 2004
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

This weekend I will have some time perhaps while I am in Colombo getting some major dental work done to try again to upload the pictures.

Hold each other in peace, love, light and forgiveness . . .

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