we took off in their friend's tuk-tuk, stopped for biscuits at a very small shop along the way, and then went to Mahdu's mother's (and grandmother's and sister's) house near the mountain. we didn't really stop to say hi, we just went through the gate, waved, and cut through the backyard to the 'main gate' entrance as Pahti called it. it was little more than a half meter wide trail that looked like it went about five meters and then disappeared. but Mahdu charged in and then picked his way among the low brush, climbing up the hill.

Pahti and Mahdu kept saying that the mountain belonged to a king and this cave was for 'security' and that cave was for 'weapons' and so on. these holes in the rocks were for gems. this cave and dwelling is a Buddhist nun's hermitage. these carvings are ancient Pali language. this circle of stones and depression in the center was a house. these indestructible bricks are thousands of years old, here!

we made it to the top and then came back down a bit before finding a suitable spot for them to have a smoke break. i really like Pahti's attitude - he's smiley, likes to laugh, and had the occasional deep spiritual thought. after taking in the view across the jungle far below - and telling stories about a small mountain in the distance that was guarded by police because there were precious saphires just rising out of the ground there - Pathi conveyed a thought about reincarnation; about how we were once the king of this mountain, in some other life. I added that at other times, we were the guard - and still at other times, we were the snake or the bird.

'and also the ants', Pathi added.

given the language barrier, it was amazing and surreal to have a connection like that - that we can communicate spiritual ideas about life and death and life again with such limited shared vocabulary.


an unmarked, but pre-historic, monument near tissa

hiking into the jungle to the 'hunting lodge'

fresh, warm milk over a small fire

coconut sambol, rice, and curry for lunch

this window was added by a hungry elephant looking for food

at the hunting lodge with the crew

a cute, little bird nest in a tin can

fresh papapaya - direct from the source

Sri Pada