One of my favourite places in the world: the port town of Negombo in west Sri Lanka. It is also a tourist spot with travellers often starting or ending their trip to Sri Lanka here as the international airport is close by. There is a nice sand beach opening out onto the Indian Ocean and to the south of the town, the Negombo lagoon with mangrove swamps lining its southern shore.
The people of Negombo are intimately connected with the sea: the town’s largest industry is commercial fishing, ahead of even tourism, and Dutch fluyts and Portuguese caravels left their mark long before the British arrived, both physically – there is a Dutch-built fort overlooking the harbour and a Dutch-cut canal long enough to take you to the next town – and spiritually, with the town being home to a very large Roman Catholic community. Many, many locals will answer to names such as Joseph or Jude and Negombo is often referred to as ‘Little Rome.’ At almost every street corner there is a roadside Catholic shrine, this particular one devoted to a somewhat nautical Virgin Mary, keeping a watchful eye on those at sea.