I went to Sri Lanka almost two weeks ago. The whole experience was very overwhelming and beautiful so its been a little daunting trying to figure out what part of it to address first. But I guess talking about Unawatuna Beach is pretty important considering it's disappearing. But first, Hanuman. There is an epic story called Ranayama. During a battle with the demon king Ravana, Hanuman, the monkey king lept to Sri Lanka to acquire healing herbs to save his dying friend. He couldn't figure out which ones to bring so he brought a whole mountain filled with them with him back to India. In the process part of the mountain "fell down" in the location of the beach and the village derives from that story, Unawatuna literally meaning "fell down."
Unawatuna looks like something out of a Hindu epic. Its gorgeous, surrounded by palm trees and boasts a beautiful coral reef. Unfortunately I didn't dive, and the beach while beautiful looked a little scarce. When we first arrived after a long drive from a sunrise safari we wanted to go to the beach first.
When the host we were staying with paused before telling Lauren, our gracious group leader, which way to get to the beach she asked if it had moved? Well unfortunately, things happen.
Back in 2004, Unawatuna and its surrounding district of Galle was hit with a massive tsunami, killing over 30.000 people along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. After the desolation and lots of funding from around the world, it seemed the beach was trying to get back to normal. There was a brand new Buddha statue and Pagoda on the ridge and people were returning to the beach.
However, last year, in an attempt to protect the beach from damage from any more tsunamis, the Coastal Preservation Department put up a wall enclosing the bay. Meant to help, it has done the opposite causing massive erosion which has destroyed the coral reef and has dragged three quarters of the beach into the sea.
The little guest house we stayed at once opened up onto the beach, but now the porch steps goes straight into the ocean and resorts further down have been forced to close before their foundations start to fall into the surf. All this happened within a year and nothing seems to be happening to remedy what is being done.
A few friends who were with us had just come from The Maldives, a group of islands in danger of being swallowed up by the sea. They said they wanted to see them before they were gone. It seemed to me we were standing on the same sort of fate right under neath our feet. Its a microcosm, like Easter Island, something happening to the environment all over the world but slower so we don't have to really look at it. It makes me so sad. Its an amazing place. My feeble attempts at researching haven't found anything that can help the situation but the town itself is still worth a trip. More on my adventures in Una soon. I couldn't skip out on telling you about amazing vegan food, getting massaged in a tree hut and most importantly, having lunch with some monks after repainting their school.