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Sri Lankan brew suffers tsunami hangover
coconut palms damaged many toddy tappers washed away
 
 
The tsunami destroyed hundreds of acres of coconut groves along Sri Lanka's southern coast and swallowed a dozen tappers in Wadduwa alone.

Seaside coconut palms the centuries-old drink is tapped from and aged to make alcohol were damaged by December's tsunami, and many workers who used to shin up the trees were washed to their deaths.

 
Reuters Limited.
 

Sri Lankan brew suffers tsunami hangover

WADDUWA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Sri Lankan tavern owner Samuel Appuhamy's business survived the immediate impact of Asia's tsunami, but its after-effects may force him to call it a day anyway and switch to selling antiques.

His small tavern in Wadduwa, a seaside village on Sri Lanka's southwest coast, is empty -- the cottage industry that produces the local 'toddy' brew he depends on all but washed away.

Seaside coconut palms the centuries-old drink is tapped from and aged to make alcohol were damaged by December's tsunami, and many workers who used to shin up the trees were washed to their deaths.

"Business has been dropping since the tsunami," said Appuhamy, 36, who inherited the small toddy tavern from his father and used to make a decent living selling the thick, milky coloured sour-tasting drink.

"There are not many trees left for the few toddy tappers who survived Dec. 26 to tap," he added, holding a toddy bottle, the last from his pre-tsunami stock. "So it looks like I will have to close down the tavern for now."

Toddy Tapper

The tsunami destroyed hundreds of acres of coconut groves along Sri Lanka's southern coast and swallowed a dozen tappers in Wadduwa alone.

Ajith Kumarage is one of Wadduwa's few toddy tappers who survived the tsunami, which killed about 40,000 people along Sri Lanka's south, east and northern shores.

"I used to tap 200 trees a day before the tsunami and now there are around 150 good trees left here," Kumarage said as he scrambled barefoot up a tall coconut palm, its top connected to others by a network of tightropes to help speed up collection.

"This tree is no good - sea water has ruined it," he shouted from the top of the palm as he lowered the clay pot containing the toddy to the ground -- backbreaking work that earns him a dollar a day.

 

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