The Thumb & The Smile visit Delft Island
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
The Boyfriend stuck out like a white thumb as we queued with a million local pilgrims to board the 8am boat to Delft Island.
Once again, it was a festival day so even though we’d arrived, as advised, half an hour before departure, there was no way we were going to board in time.
Then a man noticed The Thumb and let him (and me) jump the queue.
We rushed through the gates a few minutes before 8 o'clock and were handed a dirty wet life jacket. We were then shown to a rickety old boat that wouldn’t have been out of place in the slave trade.
Just as I was climbing into the belly of the wooden dinghy, the festival gods prompted someone to actually ask where we were headed.
Delft Island? This way! Sweet relief!
With a minute to spare, we boarded the correct boat which now appeared like a luxury cruise liner compared with our previous ride.
There were even seats.
10 minutes before docking, a beaming smile sat down next to me.
The Smile told us he owned a tuk tuk and would take us on a 3.5 hour, 8 stop highlight tour of the island for the ‘local price’ of just 2000 rupees.
Given a curry dinner costs 150 rupees, I said we’d think about it and went back to reading my book.
The boat reached the sandy shores and all the spiritual pilgrims shoved their way off, leaving The Boyfriend and me to alight last.
But The Smile was waiting and lead us to his vehicle. There were no other options so off we bumped down the dirt paths to see the famed sights of Delft.
First on the ‘tour’ was a 5 foot piece of living coral which the locals venerate. Thrilling.
Second was a significantly more impressive baobab tree, around 500 years old.
As we pootled down a dusty road, we tried to find out more about the history and culture of the island from our illustrious guide.
It quickly became clear his grasp of English was limited to just the formalities of the tourist negotiation bid:
What can you tell us about the history of Delft?
Delft? Small island, my home.
Upon seeing horses: ‘Who owns these horses? Are they wild?’
There are 3000 people on island. We have post office.
How many schools are on the island?
Our patience and enthusiasm waned especially when we saw the famed footstep of Hanuman.
With no story or context, this just appeared as a hole in the ground which we passed on the way to the ruins of some Dutch horse stable.
Our 8 stops were concluded in just 1 hour 45 minutes, after which The Smile deposited us back at the dock and asked for a tip....? We had a tip for him but found it unlikely he'd understand so we left and caught the 11.30am boat back to the mainland.
At least the ride back from Kurikadduwan Port to Jaffna was scenic.