Day 11 (2 of 2).
Cinnamomum verum, or true cinnamon tree, is an evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka. Considered as the better tasting and has more health benefits than the other types of cinnamon cultivated elsewhere in Asia and Africa, the inner bark of Cinnamomum verum has been a precious commodity sought after by the West since colonial times. Sri Lanka nowadays exports roughly 85-90% of the world’s true cinnamon. Spice plantations can be found in many parts of the island, including the South Coast.
We stayed at Mirissa Hills, a working cinnamon plantation near Mirissa, for two nights. At the plantation, there are three buildings that offer guest accommodation. We stayed at a building called the “Museum”, a work-in-progress cinnamon museum. At Mirissa Hills, we got a chance to join a plantation tour to learn more about cinnamon production.
Our room was located at the “Museum” building, around halfway up the hill of the plantation estate.
Inside the “Museum”building, four guestrooms are allocated on both sides of the courtyard.
Despite the age of the building, our room was quite comfortable.
The main building, Mount Cinnamon, is located 5 minutes walk uphill from the Museum. Designed by architect C. Anjalendran, Mount Cinnamon is an hidden architectural gem in the midst of dense vegetation.
Served as an apprentice of architectural master Geoffrey Bawa, C. Anjalendran is a leading architect of today’s Sri Lanka. At Mount Cinnamon, C. Anjalendran arranges the guestrooms around the courtyard and swimming pool.
The common room in Mount Cinnamon is dominated by Laki Senanayake’s sculpture “Enchanted Forest”.
Laki Senanayake worked as an assistant to architect Geoffrey Bawa, and created a number of sculptures and murals for Bawa’s buildings.
Outside the common room, the covered veranda was where we had breakfast and dinner.
The two dogs of the estate often lingered around the veranda. One of the dogs is already 16 years old.
The pavilion in the backyard served as the dancing stage for peacocks to attract other peahens.
After breakfast, we walked over to a covered veranda serving as a gallery for sculpture and artwork.
Seeing such an interesting collection of artwork was a great surprise for us.
In the second afternoon just before most staff called it a day, we followed the manager for a cinnamon tour. The manager showed us cinnamon trees of different sizes and ages. The cinnamon trees were virtually everywhere in the estate: by the road, behind the buildings, on the hill slope, etc., just that we didn’t notice them until the tour.
At the factory, a staff showed us how to remove the bark of the cinnamon branch.
The bark rolls were then placed over our heads for drying.
From 1970 to now, international production of cinnamon has grown more than tenfold. It is hard to imagine that such popular spice could still be processed in such a simple and traditional manner. Such production method in Sri Lanka hasn’t changed much in the past few centuries.
In the morning of December 16th, Mirissa Hills arranged a car to drop us at Galle.
We passed by a series of beaches near Weligama. Occasionally we would see empty stilts near the shore. The traditional fishermen that Steve McCurry encountered in the mid 1990s were long gone. Today, the stilts are mainly for tourist to take selfies or locals to mimic their the bygone fishermen and let tourists to photograph them for a fee.
Most beaches were empty except occasional surfers. Half day in Galle and a dinner in Colombo would make up the last day of our Sri Lankan journey.
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is renowned for its colourful hills. Nowhere is more visible for this than the village of Purmamarca. Defying the negative forecast on the Internet, today’s weather was sunny and clear. From Tilcara, a 30-minute bus ride took us to Purmamarca. As we walked into the town square, local vendors were busy setting up their souvenir stalls. The market of Purmamarca is colourful but a little touristy. We obtained a map from the tourist office and started our morning with a short walk up to a viewpoint that offered a good panorama of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hills of Seven Colours) right behind the village. Varied by the composition of minerals, the hills of Purmamarca really appeared to be distinct in colours under the morning sun, from dark green, orange, purple, to even pink. Climbing back down from the lookout, we then embarked on an easy trail called Paseo de los Colorados. The hour-long hike wrapped around the closest hill, passed through a crimson canyon, and returned to the village. It allowed us to appreciate the colours of the hills as well as their interesting rock formations in a close distance.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:
Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta
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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought