We spent the next day driving through tea country, which was breathtakingly beautiful when we could keep our eyes open for long enough to look at it. Some preferred to keep their eyes closed anyway – the roads were small and winding, and difficult even for our small mini-buses to negotiate. Eventually we reached Haputale.
Creon, who my journal says describes himself as an “anarcho-feminist post-structuralist” (that was a particularly raucus moment on the “cool bus”), entertained us with the following ditty:
After a stay of less than a day
the party moved on to Haputale;
they watched tea production
(or tea leaf destruction),
sampled the product and went on their way
But that diuretic venture
with the queen’s own thirst quencher
carried agonies extended
with bladders distended
the drive thus amended
by many a pit stop throughout the day.
As the rhyme suggests, we visited a tea factory, where we watched lovely green juicy tea leaves being turned into dust in the name of Lipton.
We had a taste test at the end and I’m sorry to say, it tasted awful!
Afterwards, we stopped off at a proper colonial tea bungalow for proper colonial tea, sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cake and bananas.
Later on, we stopped for the best – and cheapest – meal of the whole trip. Vegetable rice and curry, a huge spread including red rice and several different curry accompaniments. My favourite was the okra – it was the first time I’d eaten crunchy green vegetables in some time. This feast cost us the princely sum of 70 rupees each – about 30p.