Sun 1 Feb 2015
Andre and I organised, with the same tuk tuk driver from yesterday, to take us to San Maria Bay. We climbed on the back and he first made a stop at a house in his neighbourhood. He told us, “Five minutes!” which we know means anything from 20 minutes to one hour. We quickly ducked into a local restaurant for avocado shakes.
Meanwhile, back at the tuk tuk we now had nine young girls on the back. One of them insisted on holding my ukulele and she did so for the whole day.
The drive there was rough! The road was long and in a terrible state. Sitting on a wooden bench does not improve the situation. We arrived at the pagoda, which was actually further than where we wanted to go. But it turned out to be a pleasant misunderstanding. The temple was right at the end of a small peninsula. The girls guided us through the temple and showed us how to pay respects to Buddha. They took us onto the rocks at the water’s edge and we just admired the turquoise scenery.
At one point I asked Andre how old he thinks the girls were. We guessed that they were anything between 12 and 14. We asked them through the use of cell phones and broken English. They were actually between 17 and 20. We were completely blown away and double checked by asking for their years of birth.
Leaving the pagoda, the girls insisted on carrying our bags. Very strange, but they were persistent in having their way. We had lunch outside the pagoda, at a restaurant on the water’s edge. After some food Andre and I went for a swim in the small bay, where three fishing boats had anchored to offload their catch. We swam out to them and saw that they had hundreds of fish! Most were pan-sized, but some were bigger than me.
There was literally no one on the beach, only local people in the pagoda and no other tourists. We walked on the beach with the girls while they collected shells and poked around in rock pools. One girl gave me a stick with dried periwinkles as a snack. I took a bite and said, “Hmmm…good” while hiding the urge to spit it out. I did not want to disappoint her. When no one was looking I threw the rest under a rock.
The surrounding area looked perfect, untouched and peaceful, although we knew that the ocean is heavily over-fished. We did not want to leave, as the sun was going down and the atmosphere was similar to a National Geographic documentary where they only use the best footage for the film. We guessed that the girls needed to be home soon and navigating these roads in the dark would not be safe.
A few minutes down the gravel road, the tuk tuk halted and the girls ran, excitedly into the bush and started pointing at the trees. After a minute of complete cluelessness we realised that they were after the berries. Tasting them was an anticlimax and Andre actually spat one out.
Having the girls around was great. They are very different to westernised girls, their age. They seem more mature in ways and more naive in others. But these are only assumptions, as we could not communicate with them, unfortunately.