This story is 100% fictional, and not based on any true events – whatsoever.
I did not break any laws during my stay in Sri Lanka. Just saying.
Live music & ancient wisdom
We were sitting on some wooden chairs on a beach, nearby Mirissa. I let my feet escape the tight and sweaty grip of my flip-flops, to feel the warm sand tickling my toes. The night had fallen.
We were enjoying a live reggae band. The acoustic guitar sang sweet sweet music, and the singer had the voice of an angel – almost identical to the voice of Eddie Vedder.
I was enjoying the company of Sean – a 70 year old guy from Ireland – and Yannick, a German guy of my age.
Yannick and I would often listen to the stories of Sean with amazement. He insisted on staying in hostels, although he could easily have afforded to stay in luxurious resorts for the rest of his life. He liked the energy of the young people staying at the hostels.
His wife firmly disagreed though, so every other year they would split up for three months. Sean would go backpacking to far away places he hadn’t been yet, while his wife would enjoy the same swimming pool resort over and over again somewhere in Spain. Everything turned out fine in the end. Their love was easily strong enough to handle three months of separation.
‘As long as my shoulders can carry a backpack, I will carry a backpack,’ he stated firmly.
The guy seemed so intensely happy. Not like anything of the older people I knew back in the Netherlands.
One day I asked him what the secret of happiness was. This was before I wrote an in-depth article about happiness, and I was still looking around for the answer – at least more than I do now.
Sean’s attitude was simple:
‘Just be happy,’ he would say. ‘It is a choice. Just be fucking happy.’
I gazed at him. Was it really that simple? (I didn’t ask him out loud at this moment)
‘It’s that simple,’ Sean stated – like he had read my mind.
Mirissa beach during the day
The quest for a legendary party
The reggae band took a small break.
I walked up to the lead singer and told him he had the voice of an angel – it is one of the gayest things I have ever said to a guy, but it was true and the truth must be spoken.
I asked him whether he knew Eddie Vedder.
He had heard of the name.
I asked him whether he knew the lyrics to one of Eddie’s most known songs: Society (it breaks my heart every time I hear that song).
He didn’t know it. The friendly guy apologized and I went back to Yannick and Sean.
Sean would soon leave our spot, to go to bed. Although he could still carry a backpack, travelling took a lot of energy of him.
Yannick and I enjoyed our Tiger beer until the band had stopped playing (around midnight it was).
I looked up to the sky, bright stars were still looking over us. In the background the sea was still playing its main-act: 24 hours a day of never-ending crushing waves. Peaceful as ever, the rhythmic sounds of the sea would never bore me.
I looked at my German travel companion.
‘I am not done yet,’ I told him.
I was feeling restless, like something had to get out of my system still. It was impossible to go to bed now, although most of Mirissa’s beach bars were already closing down.
‘We are not done yet.’ – Yannick understood what I was saying.
I told him about this great hostel I heard about from a guy I had met in Colombo: the Unawatuna hostel. According to legend, every night incredible parties were held there. Mirissa might be deserted midweeks, but Unawatuna still must still have some party going on. It was a surfers’ paradise after all!
Me and Yannick, taking a tuctuc trip later that week
We looked at each other. Both of us knew Unawatuna was at least a 30 minute ride from Mirissa.
‘You get the beers, I get the magic cigarettes,’ I told him enthusiastically.
There was no way we would make this trip sober.
A few cans of beer, a cigarette & a heart-attack, please.
I scraped my throat.
The local guy behind the bar turned around, he was already closing down the place.
‘I would like to buy some cigarettes,’ I told him nervously.
He looked at me with a strange expression on his face, and picked up a wooden box from underneath the bar, containing several packages of cigarettes and cigars.
‘Nope,’ I told him shaking my head. ‘I need another kínd of cigarettes.’
‘Aaaahhh,’ the local guy nodded – he had understood me. ‘Me, no have. Go over there. They have cigarette for you.’
He was pointing at a wooden cottage further down the beach.
I walked up to the wooden cottage and asked for a cigarette. They would roll one for me, right on the spot. The guy would explain to me it was okay to smoke it on the beach, no police would come there. Behind the beach on the road, would be a different story.
At that time I didn’t attach much value to his warning. In the ten days I had spend in Sri Lanka, I hadn’t seen any police officer. I paid the guy his fee and walked up to the beach. Yannick had found a place selling some cold beers, and the pockets of his Bermuda pants were full of it.
‘You have the cigarette?’ Yannick asked me.
I nodded. ‘Let’s go.’
We walked through the all-consuming darkness of the jungle, which was separating the beach from the main road. We stopped the first tuctuc we could find. He would bring us to Unawatuna and told us he knew the hostel.
This of course didn’t mean he actually knew the Unawatuna hostel, but at least he could bring us close enough to find a party. Yannick and I were ready to make it a legendary night.
I asked the tuctuc driver for a lighter and started to light the cigarette. The thing was barely working.
The tuctuc driver looked at me.
‘Cannot smoke,’ he told me. ‘Forbidden.’
Yannick and I looked at him with major puppy-eyes.
The tuctuc driver sighed.
‘Ok ok,’ he said, ‘but close down tuctuc.’
He would get out of his seat and zipped up the back of the tuctuc, closing it down entirely with blankets.
Yannick and I both got a can of cold beer and offered one to our tuctuc driver.
‘No Sir, I have own poison!’ he would say while pointing at a paper brown bag with a liter bottle of Vodka next to the driver’s seat. At least three-quarter of the bottle was already finished.
So here we were: a highly intoxicated tuctuc driver, who would drive us to Unawatuna for a half hour. Awesome.
I said cheers to Yannick and tried to light the cigarette once again.
The tuctuc driver was just about to start, when he already had to turn down the engine.
I shit you not. Right when I was lighting the cigarette, the cops showed up!
‘Fuck me!’ I thought out loud.
At the same time I was lowering my left hand to the outside of the tuctuc, ready to flick off my sweet sweet cigarette in the darkness of the jungle next to the road.
The bouncing of my heart was deafening:
‘Fuck me – Fuck me – Fuck me – Fuck me,’ it was saying in ever-increasing pace.
At that time, I had stayed for ten days in total on this god forsaken island. Ten days equal 240 hours, which makes 14.400 minutes. In those 14.400 minutes, I hadn’t seen one cop. Not one!
But just about in that one minute (!) I was lighting my cigarette, the fucking cops would knock on our doors.
The police officer was still talking to our ever so friendly tuctuc driver.
I was still holding on to the cigarette.
After the longest minute of my life, he finally would agree on something with the tuctuc driver (god knows what!). The police officer took a short look at us. Yannick and I were still working on our puppy eyes – smiling nervously.
And he was letting us go. That was it.
‘Ok,’ said the tuctuc driver, ‘Let’s go to party.’
Off we went.
The Magic Tuctuc to Unawatuna
The blankets were down. The beers got warm.
A warm midnight summer breeze was playing with our hair, as we took off for paradise. This was óne next-level cigarette. Fuck me.
I could barely see Yannicks’ face through the smoke, caught helplessly between the blankets covering the tuctuc. We were driving high-speed on roads we didn’t know, roads we would never be familiar with. I made a small hole in between the blankets. We were dying inside, I was breathing more smoke than oxygen for god sake!
I stuck my head out of the tuctuc, white smoke escaping from the same place. I must have looked like my head was on fire. And it was in a way – it was my mind that was going all kinds of places.
I was flying through the warm air, elegantly entering cyberspace.
It was an incredible feeling.
I do not know, how long it took. Might have been weeks, might have been minutes.
In the end, we arrived at Unawatuna. As we could have guessed, the driver did not know where the Unawatuna hostel was – but it didn’t matter anymore.
That one drive from Mirissa to Unawatuna, was everything we needed. It was pure freedom, coated with sweet sweet sugar.
Legends died, memories stayed
In the end, we would all sober up and find the Unawatuna hostel. In my memory it is located in the middle of the jungle. Nobody was there, at least nobody who was awake.
No legendary party. All legends of the Unawatuna hostel died that night. And it didn’t matter.
Our tuctuc driver brought us to a deserted beach, where we caught a glimpse of a party in a beach bar. We talked around with some people, stacked up on beer, and left for Mirissa before we even got to enjoy the relaxed vibes of Unawatuna. And it didn’t matter.
We went for a legendary party, but came back with the memories of legendary tuctuc ride.
It was a fucking miracle.
Time to go home.