The 2004 Tsunami: Our Story

Since the tsunami struck Japan on March 11th, people have been asking me about what it was like back in the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004. Sonja and I wrote about the experience a few days after it happened. Here it is again:


We arrived in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka on December 22. It had been an epic journey from Kandy to Boticaloa and then south along the coast of Ampara. Sam (from Toronto) and Liz (from Utah) were already there and had found an idyllic spot not far from the lagoon, near the center of the bay. Our Swedish friends, Erik and Jonas, showed up at our 2 bungalows on the beach a day later. Sonja and I had been travelling for 2 months through Thailand and Sri Lanka and we were looking forward to a rest and some time in the surf.

December 26, 2004

The day started like any other. The morning was already hot and sticky but a strong wind from the ocean kept us cool. Unfortunately it also rustled the palm leaves so much we heard nothing from the beach. The group of us, except for Jonas who was packing his stuff next door, were sitting inside the bungalow, chatting about what we should do for the next part of our journey.

If we had been paying attention we might have noticed the water rushing out from the beach dragging everything with it but a few stranded fish; we might have heard the yells of the fishermen as they ran for higher ground; we might have seen the wall of water coming toward us, a boiling white line that crashed over the receding water as it charged for the shore. But we heard only the wind.

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