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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Jack Vs The Space Mutants

The year is 1969 and NASA launches the last of America's deep space hippy communes. In a freak mishap Kataragama 3 and its pilot Captain Jack are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems and returns to Earth 37 years later.

Well, not quite, but after hopping out of a public sardine tin we found ourselves at Jack's Place in Kataragama; a funky little donation based 'hostel' complete with a hippy village out back. The whole place is littered with groovy little multi-coloured glass bottles hanging from trees, walls, gutters - pretty much everything!

The village is based around 'mud and wattle' huts, with each religion being allocated its own little space. The Hindu one is the funkiest at moment and even has a 'meditation' bunker carved out beneath the main chilling room. Candle holders are cut into the walls and the candles within throw long flickering shadows dancing from wall to wall.

After a tour of the village Dave and the rest of the collective stayed up half the night cooking Sri Lankan 'hoppers', basically chubby pancakes, for us all to munch down. Very tasty and after a wee bit of nattering we all hit the Sauna for a couple of hours.

Five a.m. and it was out of the sauna and into the flying van as we hurtled down the road in a hippy period Land Rover. Yala National Park was our destination and with our elephant guns cocked and ready we were looking forward to some big game hunting.

Unfortunately the park wardens weren't so inclined and so we settled for a funky little tour around with the chance to see elephants, leopards, wild boars, crocodiles and even the rare and menacing Jungle Chicken!

We all had a good morning bouncing around in the back of the jeep as the driver ignored all requests to stop and look at the various animals and concentrated on reliving his Rally Dakar days. The only time the handbrake was applied was to point out the ferocious Jungle Chicken - a indigenous bird that in all respects is identical to a regular chicken save for the 'Jungle' moniker (and maybe some slight colour differences)!

A communal lunch, some lazing and the bags were packed and with the theme tune to the 'Littlest Hobo' drifting softly through my brain we set off down the road for Tangalle.


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