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  • Arthur Max

A Study in Contrast

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Much time has passed since our last blog entry. Things move apace at our idyllic patch of beach: guests come, relax, enjoy, catch up on reading, savor Sri Lankan curries, swim in the surf or the pool, work on their tans, then regretfully depart for home.

The hotel hums, as smoothly as if on autodrive. It only gets better with the passing seasons.

The coconut trees we have planted over the last 15 years are maturing, bearing fruit and spreading their crowns. Besides coconuts, the property gives our kitchen pineapple, bananas, papaya and mangos.

A few days ago we released the last clutch of turtle hatchlings of the season into the ocean. This year our hatchery produced 1,440 green and olive ridley turtles. It is the 10th year of our modest conservation project.

Here we are a few degrees north of the equator. And to think, just a few weeks ago we were at the end of the world in a place that couldn’t be more different: Antarctica.

What a joy it was to see nature in its rawest, most primordial form! Massive glaciers; floating bergs with ancient ice squeezed to a shimmering blue over millennia; penguins playful and curious at the sight of strange two-legged creatures; whales, seals and albatrosses.

In five days cruising the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, we saw an icescape as it must have looked when man lived in caves. Other than a few long-abandoned whaling stations and a couple of scientific research vessels, there were no human footprints nor man-made litter on the shores, no plastic bottles or Q Tips bobbing in the water.

I could hardly picture the tropical scene we would soon be in.

Now we are back in Sri Lanka, and the contrast couldn't be greater: green instead of white, verdant rather than barren, shorts instead of thermal underwear, a pounding warm surf as opposed to quiet glacial waters.

We are surrounded by the evidence of human habitation. In fact, we are part of it. The coconut plantation is planted. The garden is a mix of indigenous vegetation and farm-grown flowers. There’s nothing natural about the blue-tiled swimming pool. Plastic debris washes onto the sand, which we must rake and clean twice a day.

Yet it all yields a feeling of serenity. Parakeets, kingfishers, egrets, mongoose and the occasional harmless ratsnake visit the grounds. The sunsets are crimson over the darkening blue of the sea.

We are at peace here. This is our refuge.

Despite mankind’s best efforts to destroy it, our planet remains a place of wonder, of disparate landscapes and unrefined beauty. It is up us to enjoy it and preserve it as best we can.

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