December 26th 2004 by Emma squire

In order for me to get this clear in my mind I want to describe everything about Arugam Bay before the Tsunami hit us.   Arugam bay is a spit of land on the East coast of Sri Lanka about a 12 hr drive from Colombo.  It is joined to the mainland by a bridge that connects it to a small town called Potovil.   To get to it, one has to drive through many towns, villages, open terrain inhabited by wild elephants and jungle.  The journey is always a bit of a struggle but once you’re there it is absolutely worth it.  This was the second time we were visiting Arugam Bay. The bay itself is renowned by surfers for ‘Surfers Point’.  There are about 5 or 6 cheap little hotels along the beach that cater predominately for these surfers. The Haddon-Grants and the Squires were staying at the Stardust Hotel situated on the beachfront of the gorgeous bay.   This was a hotel owned by a Danish couple called Per and Merete.   They had set up the hotel 26 years ago.   At first it consisted of only 8 rooms in a concrete block but over the years they had added little cabanas around the garden.  Behind the outdoor restaurant/sitting area were two communal bathrooms, the kitchen and a few other storage rooms.  These were all made out of concrete too.  Guests would usually base themselves outdoors all day, either on the beach, in the lovely garden or under the shaded roof of the eating/sitting area.  It was a place where you could completely unwind.  We had just started to settle in after a horrendous journey    (that’s another story!).  We were enjoying days on the beach reading and chatting, body boarding on the waves, walking around the bay and playing with the various animals that adopted us (Tessa the puppy and that horrible cat!) Over the small road (North) from the Stardust was a large lagoon that often had water buffalo grazing in it.  At night lanterns would shine around it while fishermen set out nets to catch shrimp.   Behind the Stardust was the main road (I call it a road but due to the poorness of the area, it had dozens of pot holes in which made it very difficult to drive along).   Over the road (West) were settlements of houses.  Most of which were shacks.   To the South of the Stardust were a handful of small little hotels and the beach. East was the sea.

On Boxing Day at 8.45am,I woke up to Daddy knocking on the door of my little cabana.   In a disgruntled fashion, I got up, unlocked the door and daddy gave me a big kiss and said ‘Happy Birthday’.   Two seconds later I had Mummy in my room doing the same.  I got up in my short black cord skirt, and a pink vest top. I was looking forward to a birthday breakfast of eggs and bacon, and the birthday present I had accidentally found a few months earlier in Mummy’s study (a vintage Yves St Laurent powder container).   The reason we were up so early was that we were going to pay Mr Lucky the tailor in Potovil a visit.   All us girls (Mummy, Laura, Jane, Claire, Sarah and I) had found clothes in each other’s wardrobes that we wanted Mr Lucky to copy for us.

As my cabana didn’t have a bathroom or sink I had to use the communal shower room to put my contact lenses in.  I was just putting my second contact in when I heard Mummy shouting ‘Emma’.   I thought there may just be some monkeys on the roof of the restaurant that she wanted me to see so I continued putting my second lens in.   When she continued screaming my name, I decided to unlock the bathroom door to see what all the fuss was about.   At that second, a torrent of water washed into the bathroom up to my knees.  At first I thought that maybe a freak tide had come up and flooded the hotel.   I had a split second to take in the scene around me.  Perhaps one of the most haunting images was one of Per (the owner of the Stardust, aged about 65).  He had wrapped his tall, lanky body around a palm tree to my right.  He was looking out to sea with a mixed expression of puzzlement and fear.  I could also hear a huge roaring sound that was obviously a tidal wave.   I looked up and saw a wall of water charging toward me.  It was so high I couldn’t see the sky.   Reading over this bit is sounds as if I had a long time to stand and ponder on the situation but it was literally a split second.  The wave crashed into the cubicle I was in and I went flying to the back of the bathroom.   The water then receded a bit and I started walking backwards and forwards in a state of complete confusion trying to find a way out.  There was a very small square window, high up on the back wall.  Its funny, but I remember the exact detail of that little wooden window- all of its carving, the colour, bits of stained wood.  Anyway, it was obviously too small and too high for me to get out of and it didn’t have a latch.  There wasn’t very much time to think about ways of escaping as the next gush of water soared into the cubicle and proceeded to fill with water.  As I was lifted against the ceiling I decided that the only way I was going to survive was if I could get out.  I don’t feel as if I made any calculated decision to hold my breath and swim out of the door.  I still don’t understand how I could have done it against the torrent of water that had filled the bathroom.  After thinking about it I have decided that it must have been a lucky current of water that pulled me out.  The thought I had at this point was how far did the water go up until I could reach air.   I had no idea how high the water had reached.

I didn’t have time to get to the waters surface as I was swept away by a current of water (that we’ve been told was going about 60-70mph) into a palm tree.  I hit the tree with such force that I knew I was about to loose consciousness.   Its horrible writing out all the awful thoughts I had because it feels weird knowing that I thought them and I survived- I feel a bit guilty or stupid for thinking them.  So, when I hit my head on the tree I just thought, ‘ oh well, this is it,’ and ‘ at least if I’m unconsciousness I won’t have to drown from choking on water.’  In a way I was relieved have hit my head.  Within a second after hitting the palm tree, I was pushed back under water and swung into another palm tree; I imagine it to be about 2/3 metres away from the first one.   I was wrapped around the tree side ways under water and I could feel blackness enveloping my eyes.  I don’t remember being scared at this point but just kind of resigned.

The next thing I remember was being bashed about under water and moving at a huge speed.  I had obviously only been unconscious for a few seconds – a minute at the most.  Its funny how your mental state can change from one extreme to another so quickly.  When I gained consciousness my whole body felt limp and I let it stay like that probably only for a few seconds.  I had no idea where I was, but for the first time since entering the bathroom cubicle, my head came above water for long enough to see the sky, light and the tip of a tree   This was a huge relief as I knew that the world hadn’t ended (again that sounds stupid, but I had no idea what had happened as I had been under water, and what destruction had been caused) and there was a chance I could survive.   This is also the time the real fear set in because I had decided that I actually wanted to survive.  I remember just kicking and swimming in order to gulp air.    Every time I managed to get up for air I thought that maybe that was the end of the great surges of water but I would always get shoved back down with another wave.   This probably went on for a few minutes.   Although I wanted to survive, I also had thoughts like ‘shall I just give up’ and ‘do I really want to live when none of my other family have lived’.  I think that was the worst part: Just feeling completely alone, and wondering how you could possibly cope without your family.  But then I’d think that there were other people to want to survive for- and in fact there were quite a few!  These thoughts were constantly swirling around my mind.    Most people would probably not expect someone in that situation to have so much time to think but my thoughts are what I remember most.  During this time of searching for air I was also trying to grab onto anything I could to get me out of the torrent of water.   I grabbed on to so many things that would just fall away in my hand.  One of my worst memories was grabbing onto the dead body of a Sri Lankan lady who was lodged between a mixture or branches, wood, and other items.   Her body came away from that spot as I tried to hold onto her.  I was probably thinking she was part of a tree.   I hadn’t realised she was a body when I tried to hold onto her- her brown arm looked the same colour as all the wood etc in the branches.  I feel awful that her family may not find her body anymore as it continued to travel with me in the torrent of water until I eventually found the tree that let me hold onto it.  I know this is very graphic and horrible for people to read, I don’t know if I should really write about it but I thought if I write it down, I might as well write everything.   I don’t even know if I’m going to show this to anyone, so I didn’t really need to write that anyway!

I managed to grab onto a palm leaf that was lodged in the base of a tree.  I held onto it and tried to climb onto it so that I could sit down and catch my breath.   It was then that the water I was in seemed to calm down and I realised it was receding so I could stand up in it.

I don’t remember the next part but apparently I was calling out for people in my family.  Daddy was the one who responded.  He was about 25 metres away also on a tree.  I pure relief of seeing him was so great.   He waded through the water to me and gave me a hug and a kiss.  I remember asking him if I had something on my head because it felt weird.  I also asked if he knew where the others were and he said that he’d seen Laura up a tree, will he wasn’t sure and a roof collapse on mummy.  He told me to expect the worse.  It hadn’t really hit me at that point that Mummy was dead.  Daddy seemed quite sure that she wouldn’t have survived.

 I felt completely disorientated and had no idea where we were.  In fact, we were about 750-800metres away from the Stardust hotel in the middle of the lagoon.   Daddy immediately set off across the lagoon with me in tow.  I felt very dizzy and kept on losing my balance.   I thought it was just shock, not concussion.  We were screaming out for Mummy, Laura, Will, Hugo, Jane, Guy, Claire or Sarah.   It was a bizarre experience.   There were Sri Lankans on their knees looking up to the sky crying ‘Allah, Allah’.   There were bodies everywhere.    A man came up to us with a large child on his back asking if we were looking for a mother and daughter.   We were pointed in a direction and walked in hope of finding someone we knew but there was no one.   At this point we saw Nate.   He was a guest at the Stardust.  He was dressed just in his underwear and was looking for his partner Fernando.  We didn’t stay to help, as we had to look for our own family and friends.  We headed back toward the remnants of the road that lead down to the Stardust.   At this point we saw Rizad (he was the chef and insisted on being called Richard).   He was on a surfboard looking for his family.  He had been holding onto his baby niece but the waves had carried her out of his arms.   He told us not to go back to the Stardust, as there was nothing left but Daddy insisted.   In order to get back to the hotel we had to get across a raging river of water that had been formed.  I was so scared and didn’t want to get back into the water but Daddy said we had too.  We walked to the highest point of the river, knowing that we would be carried down it very quickly.   Daddy just told me to swim as hard as I could and to aim for a certain spot on the other bank.  I did that and managed to get across.  I was helped out by a really beautiful woman who was dressed in a maroon and gold sari.  She stood out from the crowd because she didn’t look completely Sri Lankan.   She had a shaved head and really big eyes.  I don’t know what happened to her.

Daddy, managed to find our way back to the Stardust where we were completely elated to find Laura, and William, Hugo, Guy and Sarah- but no Mummy, Jane or Claire.   At the hotel was the Wooley family- Jonathan, Pilar, Olivia, and Alan, David who had seen his fiancé sucked into a well and hadn’t seen her come out, Adrian, Merete (the owner), and Rizad.   Apparently when they saw us walking up to the hotel they were screaming at us to hurry up and run- I thought they were just happy to see us! (I was obviously still concussed).   Anyway, Laura had learnt in her Geography lessons that Tsunami’s occurred in a set of 7 waves and usually the 2nd was the largest.  We had only had one wave and the devastation that caused was catastrophic so on hearing this all the tension, fear and panic crept back.   Daddy and Hugo busied themselves with finding us shoes (!?).  I think they needed something to do.  We stood at the back of the hotel along the outdoor corridor holding onto a one out of the three boogey board/surf boards available.   There were 17 of us, and we all had to share these 3 things.  Looking back on it now, it is obvious that they wouldn’t save any ones lives in a 30ft wave but we felt slightly safer holding onto them.  We were told that when the wave came we should try and hold onto the wall behind us until it receded and if we got washed away then ….( they didn’t tell us what to do if we got washed away.)  I remember feeling extremely dizzy and sick.  I was sick quite a few times in the end- I don’t know if it was from swallowing so much salt water, the concussion or the shock.   I was so scared.  For me this was my worst experience yet as we could see the huge waves forming miles out at sea and then see them coming in and breaking just metres away from the hotel.  From up on the first floor of the Stardust (it only had 2 floors-of which the ground floor had been stripped bare of everything. There were no beds, chairs or peoples belongings.  We could see the true destruction the wave had caused.  The roof that Daddy had seen fall on Mummy was completely gone.   I think he looked for her body but obviously it was not there.  The cabanas were non-existent, the walls of the bathroom I had started in were partially there but the roof was gone.  There was wood, corrugated iron, trees, a teddy, and furniture thrown across the beach.  Behind the hotel, whole houses had collapsed.

Whilst some people watched for the next wave, others searched for any water, clothes, shoes, medicine and food left by the occupants of the first floor (a total of 8 people).   Perfume was sprayed on cuts to stop them getting infected.  I’m not sure where we got the water from.  It’s all a bit hazy.  These little projects were constantly interrupted by someone shouting  ‘WAVE’.  We would all run back to our positions against the wall, clinging onto the surfboard and wait.   I will never forget the awful noise of the waves looming up to the beachfront and crashing down in front of the hotel.  The shear fright was almost unbearable.  I kept thinking ‘I can’t go through it again’.  I was sure I wouldn’t have the strength to live through another one and looking back I don’t think I did.  After about 45mins of waiting up in the corridor and a procession of waves rising to about 10-15 feet, the second wave came.   It was terrifying watching the bulk of water rise up the stairs to the first floor.  It came up to half way up my body.  I let go of the surfboard and jumped onto the side of the wall.  Again, I thought this was it.  We survived that one though.  I think it crossed all our minds whether Mummy, Jane and Claire would have lived through that 2nd wave if they were still alive.  It took about 20 minutes for the smaller waves to stop coming.  I call them small but they were still about 6-8ft high at least.

In the commotion of that, we found a way to get onto the roof of the hotel.  There were 2 points of access.   One was placing tables on top of each other on a balcony and someone then giving a leg up to the roof.  The other was climbing up the shelves of Merete’s wardrobe and then through to the old water tank.  From the water tank you could get onto the roof through a small triangular hole.  The kids all sat on the roof as we felt much safer out in the open where we could check for waves.   The problem with that was dehydration, sunburn and sunstroke.  The adults passed up the soaked sheets of beds and an umbrella so that we could cover ourselves.  The Wooley family and Merete stayed in the water tank where it was much cooler and protected from the sun.  They tried to get us to stand in the tank but it was too small and claustrophobic and reminded me too much of being stuck in the bathroom.  After about an hour of sitting on the roof we saw a helicopter fly over.   We couldn’t believe our luck.  We shook the umbrella and shook the sheets to get their attention.  We stupidly thought the helicopter was there for us.   In fact it was picking up a Sri Lankan Minister and his family.  We continued sitting on the roof, whilst some of the adults were making phone calls to the British Embassy on the mobile phone Jonathan managed to salvage.  That phone was our saviour!   At this point, I'd like to mention Andre, a guest at the hotel who completely looked after me.  He told me to lie down as I wasn’t really with it and he cleaned all my wounds for me.   He also got me some water and gave me his flip-flops.   At first I refused to lie down, as I was too scared a wave was coming.  I was completely obsessed and frightened.   But he promised he would stand on the balcony and tell me if the was one on its way.  Although this didn’t help me relax the kindness and care he showed to me was amazing.  I haven’t been able to say thank you yet but I definitely want to keep in touch with him.

We were beginning to feel slightly safe when Rizad came back with news that there was another even bigger wave coming.    He told us we had to leave and get to higher ground within 20 minutes.  We immediately sprang into action and got off the roof.   Dave had previously gone with Rizad to find the higher land, which was where the survivors were congregating.  So, after rushing to pack up some water, medicine, food and the much needed mobile phone, we left in two groups.  One thing that made me so desperately angry at the time was that Daddy allowed himself to be separated from us.  The young were moved out of the hotel first- although we were meant to leave in one big group.  Hugo was with us but we couldn’t see Daddy.  Laura, Will and I were screaming at him to hurry up.   We stopped but were told to move on.  The last thing we wanted was to be split up from the only definitely surviving parent.   I was so angry with him.   So we left, not knowing if he was following us or would walk along a safe route.

The walk to the higher ground was tough.  We had to walk along thin strips of broken concrete, step over huge amounts of debris and rubbish and walk through fast running water.   All of slipped occasionally causing us to get more cuts and grazes.   I was still dizzy so found the whole journey quite difficult.  I was surprised that when I slipped into water it often went up to waist height.   I hadn’t expected this – I thought it would be just be ankle deep.

The thing I remember about the reaching the road was heat of the tarmac on my feet.  It was so hot but felt quite comforting and made me feel safe.  To my right there was a cart pulled by a cow full of the dead.   They were mainly women and children.   It was also weird to see people on their bicycles, cycling down the road.  That image made it seem like nothing had happened.

We walked for about 30 minutes until we reached the hilltop.  We called it the hilltop but it wasn’t even a hill.   It was just the highest point of land.   Here we saw that there were other surviving tourists.   David found his fiancé.   She had been spat out of the well and managed to walk with a compound fracture to her leg, all the way to the hilltop.   We could not see Mummy, Jane or Claire in the group and that’s when my heart sank.   I thought they were all dead.  Will and I were then approached by a German couple who asked us if were looking for anyone.   I described all of them.  They said they thought they had seen them and told us to stay where we were.  They were really lovely people but we couldn’t just stand still so we continued looking and calling out their names.  Then an Australian surfer came up to us and said ‘They’re in there’.  At that point Mummy came out from a sheltered enclosure and it was the best moment possible.   Daddy turned up, as did Laura and we all just held each other and cried.   Mummy kept saying ‘I thought I’d lost you’ over and over again.   She had been with Jane and Claire through the whole event and was positive none of us had survived.

On the hill people started getting into action.   We had 2 mobile phones between 50 tourists.   We heard about those who had died – Per was one of them, later his body was found 3km from the Stardust, and those who had survived.  Bodies were continuously being brought up to the hilltop and placed in the area designated as the morgue.  It was an awful sight.

Merete and Rizad, even having lost their own immediate family, put themselves out for our own safety and comfort.  We have said that you see the best and worst in people in these situations and the best definitely shone through in them.  Merete had a friend who owned a house that hadn’t been affected by the Tsunami.   It had a kitchen with a little drinking water and a little food.  We used that house as a base for all the Stardust guests.   By this time it was about 4.30pm.  We were made to drink some sweet tea for the shock and for energy.  No one could really stomach anything else.  The only problem with the house was that it was much closer to the sea than the hilltop and none of us felt safe there.  Very soon after the tea, we heard a helicopter landing by chance in the field next to the house.   We all ran out.  The pilots landed and pointed at us to get on.   However, Daddy, Hugo, Guy and Laura were not around and none of us wanted to leave them so we refused the flight.   That was a difficult moment, as we had no idea if it was our only chance to get off the island.  (I have forgotten to mention that the bridge connecting us to the mainland had been destroyed in the tidal wave).   Mummy and Jane were yelling at us to get on the flight but we wouldn’t go.   It was all so stressful! Instead, some Sri Lankans and tourists with ready packed bags got on.  None of them were injured or had been affected by the wave.  There was one more flight that evening, and a few of the injured got on – including Dave’s fiancé with the broken leg.  Other tourists with their luggage also got on the flight.

It was pitch black by 7pm, although we did have the light from the full moon.  We took some bed sheets from the house and placed them in the field.  There were 10 of us, and Nate.  Nate’s partner Fernando was missing.  He was on his own and asked if he could spend his time with us as he liked being in a big family.  So he joined us on our sheets.  The suspense that night was awful.  None of us slept as we could hear the waves crashing onto the beach over and over again.   The sound brought back all the terrible memories of the day.   To distract ourselves we talked to Nate about his job, He’s famous in America and does a show with Oprah Winfrey.  He has interviewed every single 'A' list celebrity.

Once again, we were just beginning to relax a bit when there was a news bulletin on the radio saying there would be another, larger tidal wave.   We jumped up so quickly, collected the sheets and walked up to the hilltop where there were still some tourists.  I felt much safer up there.  A big fat English guy (who turned out to be a Nasty, big, fat English guy) said that there wasn’t anything to worry about because he’d just been talking to the BBC News Room and they had had no reports of another wave.   They promised they would call us if there were.  We settled down in the smoke of the fire to deter mosquitos.  All 11 of us + Merete lying in a line on the sheets.   This was when the pain of all our injuries set in.   My head was throbbing from the pain of hitting it on the palm tree, my face was swollen down to the bottom of my nose and I was getting to very nice black eyes.  Amongst other things, we all had cuts and grazes- some worse than others.  The main problem was the soles of our feet and the stiffness.  We could hardly walk.

We got through the night with a few painkillers, sweet tea and a medical kit.   I can honestly say it was the worst night of all our lives.   We were sleeping across the road from the morgue, we could hear the raging sea and we kept hearing rumours of more tidal waves.  The knots in my stomach were unbearable as was the time we had to think about what had happened.

To put icing on the cake, it then started raining.   This was at about 3am.  We picked up our sheets and headed for the shelter of a building.   At first some Sri Lankans showed us into the morgue.  There was no way we were staying there so we found our own shelter and sat down on our sheets until the rain passed.  By the time it finished the sky was slowly getting lighter.  Through Jonathan’s contacts in Colombo, we had been promised helicopters out of Arugam Bay as soon as the sun rose.  It is thanks to Jonathan we got away so quickly.   Arugam Bay is such an inconsequential area in Sri Lanka; we could have easily been ignored.

As soon as the sun rose, we headed back down to the house and the field where the helicopter landed.  As we were walking down, we heard the propellers of the helicopter coming into land.   We rushed to the plane- Hugo and Mummy first and they called at us to get on the flight.  It was all such a rush of pushing and shoving.  I was put on probably because my face looked so awful.  In the end, Jane, Claire, Sarah, Hugo, Will and I were on the first flight out, leaving Mummy, Daddy, Laura and Guy on land.  That was another emotional moment.   We had no idea where we were going and we didn’t get to say bye to them, as it was such a rush to get on the helicopter.   The flight made me realise how beautiful Sri Lanka still is.   The helicopter was open sided so we had an amazing view of jungle, hills, rock formations, paddy fields on one side and the destruction of the coast on the other.

The helicopter landed after 30 minutes at an army air base in Ampura.   We were then taken to a Medical centre where our wounds were cleaned and dressed.  I was feeling very ill at this point.  I could feel that my face was completely swollen and my head was agony but I didn’t want to go to hospital until I knew that the others had reached Ampura.   I thought they would be on the next helicopter in, but as it was they were the last leave Aragum Bay.   By the time they arrived, we’d been waiting for at least 2 hours (I could be wrong because I was ill and everything’s a bit confused!).   We found out Daddy had gone straight to hospital because his leg was extremely painful.  He later had to have surgery as it was badly infected.  It went from a small cut to a potential amputation within 2 days.   That’s how quickly infection spread out there.  When I arrived in hospital I saw Nate.   It was so nice to see his positive, smiley face.  Especially in a hospital filled with the injured and dead.   It was mayhem there.  Nate still hadn’t heard anything about Fernando.   We were in beds next to each other and he chatted to me whilst my wounds were literally scrubbed by the doctors- so painful.   I then had a head x-ray, which showed nothing was broken.   Mummy started feeling faint at the hospital and couldn’t stand up. So she and Daddy stayed whilst Nate, Laura, Guy and I were taken to the refugee house.   There we were given clothes and food by Sri Lankans.  There was also a chance for the no so injured to have a shower.   In the evening, our group of 30 or so tourists, some of whom had become very close friends, were all split up.   That was the last we saw of Adrian, Dave, the Wooley’s and Nate.   We assumed we would see them the next day but luck was on our side that evening and unfortunately we didn’t get to say goodbye.

Our family of 10 were transported by bus to probably the worst hotel I will ever stay in.  I can honestly say that I would prefer to sleep on the hilltop rather than that place.  I was a bit out of it still and I’m quite glad as apparently the adults were killing huge cockroaches everywhere, the beds didn’t have sheets on and the mattresses were mouldy.   The mosquitoes were also unbelievable.  Will, Guy and Hugo were bitten awfully.  Some people wanted food but when Guy looked into the kitchen he couldn’t believe the dirt.   He said it was all caked in black, the saucepans didn’t look like they had ever been cleaned.  The food was quickly cancelled.

Thank god we didn’t have to stay there long.  Meanwhile, Daddy had gone off to meet an important governmental man (I cant remember his name but he was the one who got us out of Ampura) who had been touched by Daddy’s story and helped organise a military aeroplane from Ampura to Colombo.   We were picked up by drivers and whisked away, back to the military air base.   We waited for an hour watching a fire engine drive up and down the runway checking that elephants weren’t on it.   They don’t usually run night flights due to this fact.   Eventually we got on the flight and took off.   It took about an hour and a half to get to Colombo in which time we stopped off twice to pick up other pilots to aid areas in need.  Finally we landed in Colombo.   All of us were in a pretty bad way.  It was our second night of no sleep, we were physically and emotionally exhausted but we had to carry on and get to the British High Commission Office in Colombo.   There we received some good medical attention.  Our cuts and grazes were cleaned and redressed so that we could finally be taken to somewhere to sleep.  We ended up in a four star hotel called the Galadari.   They had put mattresses in the ballroom for us to sleep on.  To us this was complete luxury.  It was one of the first times we could lie down comfortably.  The people in that hotel were amazing.   We all looked a complete state, so dirty, no proper clothes and completely dazed yet they allowed us to walk around the hotel freely, fetched doctors whenever they were needed and provided 3 course meals for us.   We had all lost our appetites by this point and I felt so guilty leaving all the amazing food when there were people in Arugam Bay starving but the shock of what happened meant that I just couldn’t eat due to nausea.  It was at this hotel that I realised the true extent of what had happened around South East Asia.

We stayed in this hotel for 2 nights and 2 days.   It gave us time to recover a bit although most of us couldn’t sleep due to pain and bad memories.  There were other refugees there as well, including a group of young surfers.  This gave a good distraction to those who were well enough to socialise.

I am not going to go into much detail of what happened in those 2 days at the Galadari.  Daddy and I were in hospital for a while where he had an operation and I found out I had a broken cheekbone.  Contact lenses and glasses were bought for Daddy, Claire and I so we could see again!   Laura, Sarah and Juliet went to buy some tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts for us.  Guy smoked a lot. Wills slept a lot. Claire was sick a lot.   The trip back was also eventful but that’s another story!

Things I want to remember:

·       The kindness of the Sri Lankans.   They kept apologising to us.  They would continuously say that the wave was not their fault and they are good people.   I have never met such amazing people.  I know that the English would never put their tourists before their own people in a disaster like this.

·        Nate being so positive when Fernando was missing and his amazing smile.  (Fernando is still missing)

·        Razid having lost his whole family looked after us on the rooftop, on the walk to the hilltop and made an amazing macaroni cheese and soup with the left over food he could find.

·        Andre looking after me in the Stardust.  Letting me have his flip-flops and looking out for waves on the balcony.

·        Luck was so important. We were lucky to have to get up that early to visit Mr Lucky the tailor (quite an ironic name).  I was lucky that I found Daddy in the lagoon or else I would never have got to the stardust before the second wave due to concussion.  It was lucky that a mobile phone survived.  It was lucky that Jonathan had a good contact.  It was luck that Daddy met the important man who could get us the only military flight out of Ampura. The list could go on and on.

 

ussion.  It was lucky that a mobile phone survived.  It was lucky that Jonathan had a good contact.  It was luck that Daddy met the important man who could get us the only military flight out of Ampura. The list could go on and on.