One of Sri Lanka’s busy railway routes is the South bound service that links the capital Colombo with the Southern cities mainly Galle & Matara. This journey could take from 3 to 6 hours from one end to the other, depending if it’s the Inter-City train or the slower train.
This route run’s mostly parallel to the ocean and the views you get are just stunning. In the morning, you will see a calm sea that’s just so inviting. If you are traveling from down South to Colombo, you could see the fishing nets being pulled in and the days catch on the beach. The occasional jogger or those who take a morning walk might just stop in their footsteps and wave at the passing train or just keep looking on in fascination. In the evening, its nothing but the sunset with all its glory & colour that will enchant you as you go home after a long day at the office.
It’s one of those train journey’s I always enjoyed taking when I used to travel to office by train in the late 80’s. The breeze from the ocean always cools you while you travel, even when the train is full with everyone going to work or going home after a busy day, it’s still a lot of fun as you are so close to the beach and the smell of sea spray hits your face.
It’s a good route to take as a lazy ride on a weekend or if you want to go down South with family or friends to have some fun on a slow train.
Unfortunately, due to its close proximity to the ocean, when the tsunami struck in 2004, it took the life of many of those who were on the trains at the time. The tracks took a while to be reconstructed and the service was resumed with warning systems placed for immediate action if a tsunami may strike again.
I am no expert on trains and always enjoyed riding and watching them go by, like these that passed while the sun was setting at Mount Lavinia recently;
April was a funny month. Much was expected, but not as much as the unexpected that we got.
Dee and I flew back to home soil at the end of March for my usual hospital visit and a much delayed visit from our beloved friend Reen (Van Reen, we like to call her that due to her artistic side) from the land of the Union Jack and Fish & Chips. We were excited as the visit had been planned a few times but had to be put off due to unexpected events that took place either for us or Reen. Anyway, this time round she was visiting Sri Lanka and had already gone nuts about the Elephants long before she even knew when she would arrive.
After we arrived during the last days of March and got a few matters attended too at home, our good friend Van Reen arrived at the crack of the month of April and we were all set to cruse around, to as many places as possible so that she would get a real feel of the Island. Since this was her first visit to Asia, and as far as she had traveled from the Union Jack, we were a bit anxious if she would feel comfortable with the heat and humidity of April as it was still the dry season and the starting of the rainy season. The heat was around 33C but humidity was over 90% and Dee and I were feeling it very badly, how would Reen cope with this we wondered!!
Anyway, she was ok with the climate and it actually cooled off a bit after she arrived. She enjoyed her holiday, and as promised, the first run was to the Elephant orphanage at Pinnawela where she had the time of her life. She fed a baby elephant his afternoon meal of milk and a big girl who was pregnant a meal of fruits. She also got a chance to take a few shots with the mighty guys and see them splash around in a mostly dried up river due to the ongoing drought. I think she enjoyed her day and wants to come back to feed them again.
We also drove up to Kandy (the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka), Nuwara Eliya to see the hill country and the lovely tea estates, and took her to the Indian Ocean and the lovely beach at Mount Lavinia for a wonderful evening and a glorious sunset. A drive down to Unawatuna and Galle was nice but that was where all the unexpected started to happen.
Yes, that’s right, the unexpected and the never expected did happen to Dee and then to me. On the way back from Galle, Dee mentioned that she was not feeling too well and that she felt body pains. We thought that it was due to the running about we had been doing and that she was feeling too tired.
But that’s not what happened; once we returned home……..Dee came down with high fever 104F and was shivering like a leaf in a high storm. I gave her some medications and thought all will be ok by morning. But things became worse the fever never went down and she was quite restless during the night. As soon as it was morning and the neighborhood doctor was available we went to him and he gave her some immediate medication to bring down the fever and was a bit suspicious that it might be Dengue the dreaded fever that the mosquitoes bring that could be fatal if not treated under medical supervision. She had a blood test and within an hour he confirmed that it was Dengue Fever and requested that she be admitted to a hospital as soon as possible.
Dee was rushed to the hospital and admitted. She was placed under doctors supervision and given Paracetamol which is the only medication used to treat the fever. There is no medication given directly to fight the Dengue virus, but re-hydration is given in the form of saline and a mild antibiotic with paracetamol to keep the fever down. According to the type of Dengue virus the symptoms are different and could be mild or life threatening.The blood platelets keep dropping and is monitored closely during the course of the peak period which is between 5 to 10 days. Body pains and rashes with high fever is very common.
Dee was having very bad body pains and a splitting headache. She was infected badly and was not able to eat anything as she was throwing up. Reen had to leave in the middle of all this drama as she had already booked her flight. She was very worried and we were also worried if she too had been bitten by the bloody mosquitoes .
After Dee had been in the hospital for about 24Hrs, I too was having fever and it was very, very high. On checking it was found to be 104F and I was rushed to the hospital and admitted. We were both down with the same stupid Dengue fever and sitting like sick ducks in hospital, The fever was really bad and I had a sudden black out and was transferred to the ICU for further observation. The observation ended 8 days later just two days after Dee was released from the hospital.
April was one of the worst months that we have ever gone through. We are still trying to get back on our feet as the blood platelets went down to 7 & 10 for Dee. The Doctors say it takes about 4 weeks to fully recover, but we feel its going to take a bit longer as we are still feeling really hammered.My hands still have signs of internal bleeding and the joint pains are still continuing.
Thank God April has passed and May has come and silently taken me pass 45 in human years. I still feel 18……only if this stupid mosquito didn’t have us for dinner!
We are now on a mission to strike down any mosquito that is sighted…….cannot understand why a menace that is no use to any human or animal is not destroyed and cleaned off the face of earth once and for all.
Please keep your environment clean and don’t let this nasty mosquito take your life away. Please help destroy Dengue Fever for ever.