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Ancient Shipwreck at Godavaya, Sri Lanka

Will a New Year bring a New Beginning?

Guest Author: Laura White, NAP Ph.D. student at TAMU

The team woke up bright and early on the morning of New Year’s Eve, hoping for a change of luck that would allay the technical and logistical difficulties of our previous week. The morning seemed auspicious; we anchored the Puffin and placed four divers in the water. Unfortunately, our optimism was premature; the dive team returned to the surface to report strong and increasing currents and unusually poor visibility on the bottom. Knowing how little we could accomplish under such conditions, we decided to cancel diving for the day, and instead turned to other pleasant pursuits, that of bringing in the New Year in style.

With the kind assistance of Dr. Osmund Bopearchchi and Dr. Sanjyot Mehendale, several members of the team, including all of the first time visitors to Sri Lanka, were lucky enough to secure tickets to the nearby Peacock Hotel’s New Year’s Eve Party. It was with the promises of fireworks, food, a few good drinks, and entertainment ringing in our ears that we set off in the evening to experience Hambantota’s finest.

Indeed, Hambantota’s finest was a remarkable show! A buffet, a fabulous outdoor grill, live music and an unbeatable DJ, and ice sculptures wilting in the tropical heat were all superb! The other female members of the team and I, however, might have wished for a bit better description of the term “entertainment,” when we all sat down to our meal to discover that we were to be STRONGLY encouraged to join a local beauty pageant…complete with an interview, a dance competition, and a walk down the catwalk! We all caved under intense pressure from both the hotel staff and the rest of our team members and joined the fun…only to be justified when one of our team, Staci Willis, was named the “Peacock Queen” of 2012 and awarded a prize of several Sri Lankan gems!

Our entry numbers for the Pageant. Photo by Susannah H. Snowden.


The 2012 Peacock Queen, Staci Willis, with the star dancer of the evening! Photo by Susannah H. Snowden.


We spent the rest of the evening enjoying fireworks and dancing the night away, discovering previously unanticipated rhythm and talent in some of the members of our team!

Zafer shows off his moves on the dance floor!


All in all, it was a wonderful night and a great way to get revved up for more work in the final weeks of the project.


The team is exhausted but happy after a night of dancing and ringing in the new year. Photo by Susannah H. Snowden.