Jaffna: Day Two
Delft Island – Growing Stone, Baobab, Wild Ponies, Dutch Fort and Friendly People
If you have a look at the map you will see Delft Island in the very north-west. It is the largest and the furthest island in the northwest of Sri Lanka. The island is home for the only baobab and for herds of wild ponies brought here by the Portuguese some centuries ago. Delft was an important destination for Arab and Portuguese traders in the 17th century. As the saying goes an Arab trader had planted a baobab seed on Delft long time ago. The seed sprouted and turned into a huge branchy baobab. The exotic shape of the tree could be explained by the local climate. The baobab is not the only thing to grow on Delft Island for we were also shown a growing stone😯. Everything on the island is made of corals only, even the fences here are made of coral stones that local residents simply put one upon the other. There is no need in bringing stones from anywhere because the corals are everywhere including people’s grounds. In Around the World in Eighty Days (1972 animated TV series) Phileas Fogg once said that “Learn to use what you have got, and you won't need what you have not”.
We jumped into a sunny yellow tuk-tuk that had been driving us for several hours around the island which reminded us of Greece because of numerous ruins. We visited the stables, the Dutch fort, the hospital and in general the island. My son noticed that the Dutch usually built hospitals while the British transformed them all for administrative purposes. Does it have to do with the fact that the Dutch were often ill and used for instance such folk Portuguese method of treatment as the gastric concretions from goats’ stomachs? Goats are numerous on Delft Island and the black ones are particularly cute. When we came right to the edge of the island we saw wild ponies grazing. All the fields and pastures were strewn with fragments of corals and the impression was as if we were on a former seabed! Throughout the centuries the island rose from the ocean and then plunged back into its turquoise waters again.
There are a few hotels on the island and a deserted beach with a flat way to the transparent shallow waters of the ocean. Thanks to our guide Rove Assam we had a pleasant time on the island and even found the skin of a snake that my son was particularly excited about. At sunset right after visiting Delft Island we stopped to see the pools with the sacred water at the temple of Kirimalai Keerimala (Naguleeswaram Temple) and had time to swim at the northernmost beach of Sri Lanka! For the first time in a long period I had an opportunity to swim in a calm sea. The dome of the rapidly darkling sky was still light blue and I could watch it lying on my back.
About the Ferries
Many people use ferries and boats to travel from one island to the other. There are usually some queues especially when people are in a hurry for pujas in the temples. If you go by ferry you will have to sit on the wooden deck. Therefore, you should put on comfortable clothes and a hat saving you from the hot sun since the sun is mercilessly hot. You’d better sit on the top deck to enjoy some fresh breeze and the picturesque turquoise ocean. The companions stared at us in amazement when I smeared my daughter with a suncare cream and even asked me for some cream to try.
Our ferry companions also included the British, the German and the French on our way to Delft Island. I noticed a long time ago that the north of Sri Lanka was favored by the French. The atmosphere on the ferries is very friendly and natural. Those who are afraid of water crowd together inside a closed cabin. The police took us to a ferry to Delft without a queue (you should only say that you are heading straight to Delft). However we had to wait for the third or even the forth boat when going to other islands.