(Regular blog isn't working right now so am writing here briefly until I can get back in)
So we are back in rainy Kandy, smack dab in the middle of the Esala Perahera festival. I don't have my guide book with me to remind me what exactly it's about it the nightly procession starts at the Temple of the Tooth near the lake, so let's venture a guess that it has something to do with Buddha's tooth. And elephants. Lots of elephants. Elephants lit up with a Catherine Wheel or a particularly excellent Christmas tree.
We came in yesterday from the east coast where we had spent the past four nights recovering from a particularly vicious and debilitating pot-holed bus ride from Anuradhapura. Remind me never to sit at the back of a rickety bus as it dashes at 90km/h over war-torn, pock marked roads. Or rather, 'roads'. Also, I'll remind all of you not to either, unless you bring full body armor and knee pads. We'll leave it at that. To come back to Kandy, we hitched an expensive ride with a kindly Belgian family in their hired van. No lethal bouncing allowed when there are toddlers in the vehicle!
So anyway, Kandy. We are back in rainy season, back in the clouds. And like I said, back in a rather religious city during a rather religious festival fortnight. Hotel prices are tripled and rooms were scarce. We're lucky we got what we did (I won't even mention what we are paying for it). However, we are right down town and were able to easily make our way to the nightly procession that starts in the temple of the tooth and ends up...somewhere.
By 6pm, the streets were blocked off and people started lining the sidewalks, claiming their spots with tarps and cloths. There were police everywhere. Richer folk paid absurd amounts of money for plastic chairs set up at key points along the route. We weren't that ambitious. We lurked around, trying to find gaps in the throngs, and eventually ended up behind some bright yellow barricades under a thick cover of bird riddled trees.
We had a good view, just a step back from those who had claimed the sidewalk, with the added bonus (and good luck!) of some seriously freaked out birds who were having bowel problems. During the one hour wait and the two hour procession, I was shat upon four times, quite exuberantly. I'd like to think I was just extraordinarily lucky.The procession was amazing. Drums and whips cracking; dancing and singing, illuminated elephants-- for two hours! The Victoria Day Parade back home has a lot to work on to get up to this level of awesomeness.