A strange noise wakes me from my dreams and it takes a while until I realize it’s my alarm. I grab my phone from the side of the bed, where I always put it, it’s 6.30am. In this weird stage between sleeping and being awake, for a few moments I have no idea where I am…. it’s warm and I hear jungle sounds, I look around me, colorful fabric with different patterns is covering the ceiling of the safari tent like a sky full of butterflies, my clothes are lying neatly in the shelf and my backpack is standing in the corner and so is my guitar – my alarm goes off again and it suddenly hits me: Camp Poe. I’m in Sri Lanka. My home for the next 4 weeks. I think about how we arrived here by train from Colombo, an adventure itself, and then took a Tuk Tuk from the station, a quick walk from the street through the forest, crossing the rail tracks, turning around a corner and then, through a wooden door, entering paradise. Camp Poe is a Surfcamp in Ahangama on the south coast of Sri Lanka, a 3 hour train ride away from the capital. A surfer friend recommended it and since I always like to go to places that have a good vibe, I usually trust people that I have been traveling with because they know what I like and need on a trip like this – so I decided to make Camp Poe my first stop on my world trip. It’s run by Till and Ben, two European guys who are passionate about surfing and yoga, just the right combination for me. And now I am really here and it’s more than I could have ever expected. It’s a jungle oasis right by the beach. It’s a hideaway, it’s like a sweet secret you only tell your closest friends, it’s peaceful and playful at the same time, it’s a place you settle in at within a couple of hours and then you never wanna leave.
Days start early at Camp Poe – if you want them to. Everything goes at your own pace really, but the surf lessons are at 7am, which sounds too early, but you will be happy about getting up at 6.30 when you see the empty line up and the clean waves. Surfing is best in the morning and the late afternoon here and as we all know, we have to follow the moods of the ocean.
So I get up and put on my surf suit, grab some biscuits, sunscreen, wax and water and then we’re already picking up our boards from the board shed, put them on the top of a Tuk Tuk (not kidding) and off we go to check out the spots. There are several really good spots close to the camp, one is right across the street (‚Sticks‘), another one in walking distance (Kabalana Beach) and all the others can be reached by Surf Tuk Tuk or with a scooter (for example `Lazy Right‘ in Midigama, which I really like), so it’s a really good base for a surftrip. Today we are going to Weligama to a spot called ‚Fishermans‘, it’s further to the end of the bay where all the fishermen have their boats lying on the beach like colorful stranded goods. There are only three more people in the water as we paddle out and the sun is already burning down, you will never need a wetsuit in the Indian Ocean that meets Sri Lankas coastline, what a luxury for someone who is used to surfing the Atlantic. In general I feel pretty lucky these days – ‚life is good‘, that’s what I feel while I am sitting on my surfboard, waiting for the next wave, and I know how damn blessed I am to be feeling that way. Happiness is a shy little thing, complicated from time to time, moody, to be treated very carefully so it doesn’t run off the next moment before you can catch it. And I know there will be difficult days on this journey, but right now I am ready to devote myself to that feeling of being in the right place, of being happy. And then I see a wave coming. I turn my board towards the beach and start paddling, always looking back on the wave rolling towards me. Sometimes looking back can be scary, overwhelming, it can feel like a heavy weight is coming towards you, the weight of the past, like this wave. But I keep paddling, I keep moving forwards and I know, looking back can also push you to new heights, and so I feel the power of the wave underneath me – I keep my eyes straight now, only looking forward from now on and then I stand up. I am surfing and everybody who has ever surfed a wave knows what that feels like. For everybody who hasn’t: it’s awesome!
I am at this stage where it’s a real success when I surf one good wave per session, so I was so stoked and felt like I deserved a big breakfast now. And that’s exactly what you get at the Camp after the surf – eggs, pancakes, fresh fruit, coffee, juice and as much drinking water as you like, which is a real good thing I think, especially on days like this one, when you sweat out everything within 5 minutes. So chillin‘ at the Camp pool feels just right…. read a book, play the guitar, hang out in the hammocks and just taste the sweetness of lazy days in Sri Lanka until it is 4pm, which means: Yoga time.
The Yoga timetable changes every week with a variety of different yoga styles and teachers, which gives you a chance to find the right style for you or try new styles. (Yoga happens twice a day, at 8am and 4pm, so you can get a good mix of yoga and surf.) In the low season (from May to October) there will even be Yoga retreats, which sounds heavenly to me in this environment – so if you don’t surf you can still come here – how awesome is that?!
When we arrive at the yoga platform we are welcomed by wild monkeys sitting in the trees, playing, jumping around or taking care of the baby monkeys. That was the most unusual yoga class I ever took, but in a good way. I am just so fascinated by these little things that happen to you when you travel…. sometimes it’s Yoga with monkeys, sometimes it’s just an amazing sunset that makes you feel loved by the universe. I have seen some pretty good sunsets here so far and man, I feel the love.Everything that’s missing now is a good dinner, but since Camp Poe serves the best food ever, there is nothing to worry about. What I really like is that most of the people who work in the Camp are locals. On the one hand that means you will eat super authentic local food, but also that you support the local community by staying here. A family living next to the camp is so integrated in the Camp life that you almost feel like you are a family member, too, and you can always go to ‚mama’s house‘ for lunch on a donation base. I literally have never been to a place with a friendlier vibe than Camp Poe. After dinner we just hang out, or we play music, or we play games, or we talk, or think about the waves we surfed, or write in our travel journals, or some digital nomads work a little bit, like me, writing this blog entry for you, or sometimes we go out partying – everything is possible if you open your heart to new adventures and Camp Poe is definitely the right home base for all of this.
Lying in bed I hear jungle noises, the day closes, our life will continue in circles… from night to day, dark to light, through the seasons and the tides, sunshine and rain and, lying here, I can’t wait for the sun to rise and paddle out again tomorrow morning…
If you wanna check out Camp Poe, you can do this here or on their Facebook and Instagram, and if you feel like booking a flight now and come here, just do it, you will not regret it for a single second, I promise.
Namaste, my friends.