Life on Lockdown in Sri LankaMilitary controlled curfews, empty waves & blocked drains

Max Hepworth-Povey


2 months ago in News

Here’s a thought. There’s something metaphorically magical about a blocked drain.

We clean our physical bodies and empty our personal waste, which then goes into a hole in the ground. This magical portal which we don’t other consider or care about, sends our dirt to a destination somewhere in the earth. Now and then the drain decides it can take no more and rejects us. This is when we are forced to reflect upon ourselves. The fact is that we cannot just wash away and ignore our bodily secrets.

What I’m trying to get at, is when you are forced to de-block your own toilet because you can’t call a plumber, it’s quite a humbling experience and puts some things in perspective. This is how I spent my morning yesterday, after an anxiety-inducing, illegal 45 minute surf, at Sticks, the surf spot literally a stone’s throw from the Surf House.

Settled into lockdown. But not without visitors

We are now well into our lockdown in Sri Lanka.  After the abrupt end to the season and completion of all guest repatriation. We finished off all the food and alcohol.

We are now settled into some sort of George Orwell’esque dystopian Groundhog Day.

The Sri Lankan Government were pretty quick to react to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Calling a nationwide curfew almost straight away and enforcing a unique approach to ‘lockdown.’ We are only allowed to leave the house for a few hours every now and then. There are severe punishments (prison) for anyone breaking the rules.

Whilst rules are rules and despite our Resident Visas, we are still guests in this beautiful country and must respect the laws.

Surfing during lockdown

But can you imagine waking up and enjoying your morning coffee whilst watching empty waves rolling into your local surf spot every single day and not being able to ride them? Throw in the fact that the swell is bigger and better than it has been in 6 months, due to the switching of the seasons, and on overcast days, the waves remain clean all day.

Would you not be tempted to risk a stint in a Sri Lankan prison for perfect waves? It’s a tough one. I cracked.

A friend lives literally on the beach and he believes he can surf, so my plan was to just run into his room if the police were waiting for me after my surf.

You may think my selfish quest for wave-riding is a bit inconsiderate. However, we are well into lockdown. The Surf House is one of the most luxurious places to be quarantined. The desire to break the daily routine and partake in my favourite pursuit of leisure over-rode the consequence side of the conscience.

Definitely worth the risk. We are very lucky to have this wave in our front garden.

On this day the surf was amazing. The same day the government announced that we could leave our houses between 6am and 4pm to purchase groceries. Under lockdown, shopping trips are a 3 hour sweat drenched mission.  Queueing in the blazing sunshine and certainly no comprehension of social distancing.

Under Control

Recently the government has extended length of the curfew lift. It had previously been 6am-2pm, so extra couple of hours indicated a shift in routine. All very regiment. Sri Lanka has only 894 confirmed cases, 9 deaths (at the time of writing). This is possibly underestimated.

The Sri Lankan approach to COVID-19 is working.

The government have just announced that “Sri Lanka’s success in containing and controlling the global COVID-19 pandemic is an example to the whole world.” Another Minister also boldly put out a statement saying that “Covid-19 has been contained, now it’s time to reopen the country” and the most recent announcement is that civilian life and work will resume on Monday!

Fingers crossed things are changing out here.

I’ve kept in touch with family and friends in the UK, where the situation seems very different. I have also been talking to the team out in South Africa where you can go to the shops, but police are waiting at surf spots to nick the violators of the no surfing rule. Another different scenario.

We are all living in strange times right now, so if you want to ask me some questions about Life on Lockdown in Paradise, I’ll be doing a LIVE interview with Wavelength Surf Magazine from the Surf House on Ticket to Ride Instagram this Sunday 10 May 11:00

Hang in there folks.

Don’t forget to tune in to Instagram this Sunday. If I don’t get arrested for surfing perfect waves, I will see you there.

Max