It cost about 25 cents to ride the bus from Tissamaharama to Tangalle. I took my ticket and sat down towards the back of the bus by an open window. It was late afternoon and the heat was just starting to abate but the humidity was still stifling and I was dying for a breeze.
The bus roared to life, literally and figuratively, all at once. As the key twisted in the ignition, loud, joyful music came pouring out of giant speakers tied to the baggage racks and the journey began. Weaving through dense jungle roads and crowded city streets, the crisp breeze washed over me. For the next 3 hours, I was in sensory overloaded heaven.
It was already dark when we loaded into a tuktuk to head to Turtle Beach. While enjoying the beaches of Tangalle, we learned that on that very night, turtles would be coming to shore to lay their eggs. There was no question as to whether we would go to witness this great spectacle of nature.
We arrived at the beach and met a Sri Lankan guide from the local conservation group who have taken it upon themselves to protect the turtles. He passed out headlamps and led us down to the water. Before long, great mounds were appearing on the shoreline. With slow methodical movements, the turtles dragged their massive bodies up onto the beach. Channeling Goldilocks, each turtle found a spot that was just right and began to dig. Powerful flippers threw sand at us as we watched the giants from under the sea dig their holes. Once the holes were up to snuff, tiny white eggs began dropping into the sand. The eggs would remain hidden below the sand until they were ready to hatch and return to their mothers, beneath the sea.