I decided it would be a good idea to go on a 5 mile trek to see a blowhole a few weeks ago. Google Maps told me that the Hummanaya blowhole was kind of close to where I was staying in Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka and I wanted to keep venturing along the shoreline anyway, so I decided to just go for it. We all know that I’m never opposed to a hike of insane proportions, and even though I wasn’t 100% sure that the shoreline was navigable, I had faith I could make it happen.
So I climbed along the rocky shoreline from Hiriketiya Beach headed east and just figured I’d see what happened. The first mile consisted of constant diagonal rock formations (think mini Red Rocks) that were super cool to look at, but a pain in the ass to walk across. I often had to jump 5-6 feet over some pretty deep crevasses to move forward. Oh also, I was in flip flops. But that’s fine. I’ll probably break a bone or two on my time abroad anyway, so it might as well happen in a developing nation while I don’t have cell service.
After the rocks, the map indicated that there would be a kind of cove area. The first thing I saw when they ended was this really beautiful little peninsula. Isthmus? I don’t know. But it was like a small island connected to the mainland by this narrow little strip of perfect sand. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was doing this annoying thing where I was trying to not be connected to my phone so much. I got better about just taking pictures later on in my journey, but this was still early on and I had a lot of lessons to learn back then. As I rounded the corner, I was expecting that beautiful cove that the map seemed to show. It turned out to be a shipyard. A really big, really dirty shipyard. But at least I was getting the full experience. And everything leading up to that was pretty beautiful. So it was bound to end at some point.
Oh by the way, Sri Lanka has a lot of stray dogs. Seriously, they’re everywhere. And most of them are pretty friendly. But the ones near the shipyard were not. They barked and chased after me as soon as they saw me enter their turf. I ended up hopping a fence into the shipyard to avoid them and continued along the fence to the point where it ended and met up with the shore. I had to hop this fence as well, and I did it pretty damn quickly as some more dogs were starting to run towards me.
This shoreline was a pretty brief section of beach that quickly turned into another rocky section. These rocks were much larger and steeper, so I took off my flip flops in order to climb over them. Three weeks in Sri Lanka had made my feet pretty calloused, so it was cool. Eventually I got to another tiny beach where I was immediately greeted by a super enthusiastic boy named Dilshan(I think) who proceeded to introduce me to his entire family. I’m pretty sure that Sri Lankans are taught from infancy to say hello to every tourist they see. Or maybe it’s just every human they see. But in any case, they are extremely outgoing. His younger brothers tried on my sunglasses and his older sister took a picture of me with her phone. He then asked me if I had chocolate, money or a phone. In that order. I told him that I had none of those things, because that chocolate is mine god dammit. I actually did have some money, but I needed it for a tuk tuk ride home because no way in hell was I doing this return journey on foot.
I said goodbye to Dilshan and his extended family of at least twenty people and made my way along another short rocky section. This part was actually the hardest to navigate because it was mostly just steep cliffs of about 15-20 feet in some spots. But it quickly gave way to a well-manicured resort made up of rolling hills and a nice pool. There was literally no one around, so of course I took a quick dip in the very inviting pool. After I got out I made my way toward the beach, but soon realized that this entire property was enclosed by a 7-foot fence. I followed the fence to the very corner of the resort where I found an elderly groundskeeper. He smiled at me skeptically and continued on his way. I tried my best to look like I belonged there, but as he walked away he looked back at me and pulled out a cell phone. Fearing attack dogs or snipers, I decided to just hop the fence. And I did it like a pro. Picture Gambit. It was like that. I’ve always been pretty good at hopping fences, but travel has made me exceptional.
The next mile or so was a vast, completely deserted beach. It was super weird. It was pretty, clean, and huge. And no one was there except for three mean dogs that chased me into the ocean a few times. After the beach was another shipyard. This one was bigger and had the feel of abandoned communist dystopia. There were at least a hundred ships docked there, and like 3 people. One of whom was a man openly peeing on a wall.
After the shipyard hellscape I was nearly there! The blowhole I had worked so hard to find! The last stretch was actually a kind of nice little neighborhood. I stopped to get a fruit juice at a local shop. It would end up giving me diarrhea. But that’s fine. I climbed some rocky steps between houses to get to the entrance of the hole. To my dismay, there was a fee to get in. Sri Lankan attractions always have a “foreigner fee” and a “local fee.” The local fee is always in Sinhala so that you can’t tell how badly you’re being ripped off. But it only cost 250 rupees and I had already been hiking for like three hours, so I just paid it. The man at the entrance took me and the 39th adorable British couple I had met so far this trip to the blowhole. It was a deep, rocky crevasse and all the pictures showed huge water spouts shooting up out of it. The man pointed to the hole and said, “this is where the water would be coming out.” “Would be?” I asked. “Yes, this isn’t the right season, but the blowhole is very impressive in about 4 months.” The Wikipedia article said nothing about this! The British couple and I stood there watching the empty hole for a bit. It kind of sputtered once and sort of made a hollow thumping sound another time. As I was about to leave, a couple of Dutch girls walked up. After I explained the situation to them, one of them looked at me and said, “not really a glory hole is it?” She winked. I left.