Every so often we would see gloriously coloured kingfishers, green herons, little egrets, wild peacocks and other birds I couldn't identify. Large river monitor lizards lay sunning themselves on the banks and islands and, upon seeing us, would slip silently into the water and swim along side in anticipation of food. Sure enough, the boat boys threw them scraps of fruit and bread and the monitors gobbled it all up with lizardly glee.
We landed on one island and met a family of cinnamon farmers. The whole island smelled of Mom's apple pie and Dad was happy to sell us a big rolled piece of bark for just a few rupees. The same amount of spice at home would have cost me over £100 I reckon. We also met a pineapple farmer and he, again, was happy to oblige us by picking the sweetest juiciest pineapple I've ever tasted - straight from the plant - for just a few pennies.
On our way back to Beruwela, we stopped to watch a Sri Lankan wedding where the bride was promenaded through the village on a cart that was apparently on fire. It was a very happy occasion and we were delighted to be asked to join in with the hand-clapping and shouting. We then sampled something called buffalo curd - a kind of natural yoghurt - flavoured with dangerous honey; dangerous because we saw a chap shin up a tree and lop the bottom off a large paper bees' nest to get it, despite the huge crowd of angry insects that swarmed moodily around him.