The house we are staying in here on the beach in southern Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed in. It is called Thalassa and, as the name suggests, is by the water. It is a big sprawling house with high ceilings, wooden floors, fans and comfy places to read (or write) books all around the property.
As I write this I am listening to the waves. Every day the kids have been body surfing, we have walked up and down the beach with the three dogs, and explored the rocks at the end of our beach.
This morning started out just the same. At one stage I headed back home with Bea and Leo, stopping for a quick body surf en route. The sea was a little rougher than usual. I had seen a group of people by the rocks and said to Olivia “they’re too far out”.
Just as I got to the garden gate Olivia ran to tell me Ria, a friend who is with us, told her to run and get help. “There’s a woman drowning,” she said.
I asked the staff in the house to call an ambulance and ran back out to see what I could do. The beach was filling up with people, friends of the missing lady, locals, stray dogs, all running towards the rocks near to where the group had been swimming. Ria had told a couple of locals to get a boat and we saw them first run past the house and then row out towards the rocks.
One of the friends of the lady told us the lady had been swimming with a couple, a huge wave had washed them all out to sea, the man had managed to grab his wife and pull her towards the shore, but not the other lady.
The whole group waited anxiously for the boat to arrive, one young local man braved the waves on a surf board to try to reach her. A group, her boyfriend included, went to the rock, I kept the children off it, and at one stage Ria told us they could see her floating in the water, face down. But still we all hoped that she would somehow come out alive.
The boat finally reached her and we all walked along the beach to meet it. Ria asked if either of the men on the boat had phones. No was the answer. She wanted to explain how to try to revive the lady. I took the children into the house while the rest of the group carried on down the beach. After about half an hour Ria came back.
“There was no hope,” she told us. “It was obvious when they pulled her from the boat there was nothing we could do.” Despite this two people did try to resuscitate her, but to no avail.
We are all still in shock. It is so horrible to think that the beautiful sea (pictured above) we have frolicked in all week and admired has killed someone. I can’t imagine how her poor family is feeling, hearing that their loved one has died in this holiday paradise. Of course all I could think about was that it wasn’t any of the children. I can’t imagine the panic and fear, thinking of them being lost in those waves, in that vastness, the immense sea, with barely any hope of finding them alive.
Needless to say we are staying away from the sea for the rest of the day, all grateful and happy to be together.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011
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