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Across this bay of wonder hundreds lost their lives and people

Posted on 26 September 2010

Across this bay of wonder, hundreds lost their lives and people say bodies are still being washed up But for Mr Mirinchage’s guests, the nightmare is over. The following day, after the water subsided, they were on a coach back to Colombo for their flights home. They will be for ever grateful to a brave host.But Mr Mirinchage was not insured. He had chased a dream of making an independent living as a small businessman and now the Boxing Day tsunami looks to have killed it He does not want for food or water His house is still standing But as a business proposition it is ruined.

He has a family and for that he is grateful, yet how can he provide for them in the coming year?That is the question being asked by people across Unawatuna There are few tears now Mourning has taken on a quiet dignity and resignation. And the ones the waves have left behind wonder what will become of them. Last Sunday he had couples staying from Denmark, Germany and the UK when the wave wiped out Sunnymood Guesthouse.Mr Mirinchage, 40, shepherded his guests and his family to safety as water poured in from the seafront that is normally 100 yards from them. He then clambered to the second-floor roof terrace, closely followed by Jaffe, his German shepherd dog From the roof, he watched the bodies float past. Tourists were herded towards the shimmering coast that runs south from Colombo, just past the southernmost point of the island at Dondra Head.The Westerners brought some prosperity and an aspirational way of life, but Unawatuna, which retained a certain style and character amid the huge corporate developments elsewhere.And the locals prospered.

Tourism brought direct benefits for those who were able to tap into the new market, as owners.A decade ago, Sunil Mutha Mirinchage opened a shop. It thrived and six years later he sold it and his house to operate the Sunnymood Guesthouse It was a brave move and he also needed a big bank loan But it appeared to be paying off. The guesthouse’s four rooms were always full during the short tourist season that runs from December to April. Its simple but clean and friendly environment appealed to the type of tourists who pore over the pages of Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides.His wife, Sudantee, did the cooking The visitors loved her mix of Western and Eastern dishes They doted on his 13-year-old daughter, Chaturee And in recent months they have cooed over his new baby. A glorious mile-long crescent of golden sands, smiling faces and happy holidaymakers that early last Sunday morning was gearing up for sunshine on Boxing Day.

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