I arrived in Arugam Bay after 36 hours of constant travelling, feeling rather tired and sick. I'd passed six Army checkpoints on the descent from the mountains and had an AK47 thrust at me more times than I care to remember! Gay sex tourists in the seedy Mount Lavenia mixed with mind-numbing Arrack are just a painful memory now. The elephants were the only highlight of a monotonous journey through miles of jungle. Our hotel was a flea infested pit with a family of resident rats living under the bed, so the surf had better be worth it!
Cockerels announce dawn at 5am, followed shortly by the Muslim call to prayer from the neighbouring Mosque. Early nights for the next two weeks are in order. Wax the stick and walk the 1km to the point. It's just light and there are already 30 Israeli's hassling on the wave.
I paddle out and sit on the inside peak. I turn and paddle for a head high lump rearing up behind me, vertically drop down the face and straight into a translucent tube. Crouching and trying to produce as much speed as humanly possible, I focus on the ever-decreasing hole. Instantly I'm sucked up the face and thrown onto the reef, too deep inside! As water careers off the reef, seeking the depths, the conveyor belt drags me away from the impact zone and dumps me into open ocean again. After several more nailings and a little reef rash, I get it wired.
Again I paddle, take a less severe drop but this time I have enough speed. The white horses are thrashing at my tail, threatening to trample me as they overtake. With one hand on the rail, the other in the face, I lean back to maintain balance. Finally the wave is defeated so I can enjoy the enlarging wall of water in front of me. Gliding up, then down in a fluid motion, cutting back on flat sections no pumping required here. Eventually the wave dies and I recoil off the top onto my board. I count 250 strokes on the paddle back!
The walk back leads me past the early morning fishermen, in colourful kayaks and outriggers, un-hooking their catch onto the sand. Occasionally I am asked to help haul a boat up the beach, inch by agonising inch until safe from the grasp of the treacherous and evil shore dump.
Breakfast this morning comprises of the usual 20 rupee (13p) Rotti and Banana milkshake. No dawn session this morning, my arms are like overcooked noodles and my shoulder muscles have seized - The truth is, I couldn't get off my sweat soaked mattress! I have become immune to flea bites and the rats seem to have found someone else to bother.
We hail a Tuk-Tuk and grudgingly the driver agrees to take our surfboards and us to Pottuvil Point. To save the additional 200 rupees we all clamber in, three in the back and one on either side of the driver, hanging on for dear life. Our driver takes us cross-country, through parched rice fields and along scant jungle tracks. More than once we fall out but thankfully there are no serious injuries. Hardly in the same league as the notorious Arugam Bay...Pottuvil Point is a real anti-climax.
Fellow surf traveller - James, now has a foot resembling road kill, thanks to a nasty coral cut in the tropics. The doctor prescribes anti-biotics and that's end of his surf trip. There is however no aircraft home so he is condemned to hell. Meanwhile the rest of us dedicate our best waves to his memory and revel in his misfortune. There's one less surfer in the water so more waves to go around! The evening is full of nostalgia and we ensure James is made well aware of what he missed.
Israelis have arrived in the line-up and between sets, the holocaust is todays hot topic! Needless to say, there is a bit of aggro, so we head for Crocodile Rock. It's fun on a Longboard but too small to be serious. Rather than head back as dusk approaches, we ascend 200ft up the rock for a 'birds eye' view of the surrounding jungle. Perching on a ledge above the azure hue of the ocean; fishermen are hauling their nets and making anchor for the safety of the shore, whilst elephants wallow in the lagoon, spraying muddied water over their backs. We sleep around the flickering embers to ward away mosquitoes.