We’re Sally Martin and Jerry Smith. Sally was born in Sri Lanka, the sixth child and only daughter of the fourth generation of a British tea-planting family. Her great grandfather moved to Sri Lanka in the late nineteenth century. She lived there until the age of thirteen when the policies of the nationalist Bandaranaike government were making things increasingly difficult economically for Europeans and the family reluctantly decided to return to England. It was twenty seven more years before she was to set foot in Sri Lanka again.
Jerry, who met Sally in the early 1990s, has no previous connection with Sri Lanka, though he was brought up in a guest house in Somerset, England, so feels that in his own small way he’s also returning to his roots.
We came to Sri Lanka with Sally’s then eight-year-old daughter in 1998 simply for a holiday. Sally immediately felt she’d returned home and Jerry just fell in love with the place. But it wasn’t until our second visit, in 2001, that we even considered living in Sri Lanka and not until three years later that we took the step of buying the land where Jungle Tide now stands. It was another four years before the house could be completed and, for work and family reasons, we won’t be able to live there until late 2015.
Though we have no children in common we’ve been involved in bringing up five of them, one way and another, and between us we have three grandchildren so far as well as an extended family of “foster grandchildren”. A big part of what we want to do with Jungle Tide is to make it a great place for families to stay. Sri Lanka is one of the safest developing countries where children are doted upon and if you want to give your child/ren an experience of the world outside the west with very little risk involved, it’s the place to be.
From our first visit in 1998 to the completion of our house ten years later Jerry has kept journals of our travels in Sri Lanka, the people we have met, the often daunting processes of buying land and building a house, and various scrapes we have got ourselves into. If you feel like reading an account of his journey from wide-eyed innocent abroad to an almost-local there is a copy of it in the house. Or we can e-mail it to you. We hope you will find it both amusing and informative.
Martin and Rani
Martin and Rani Fernando are the beating heart of Jungle Tide. They have worked as our housekeepers since 2010 and keep the place spotlessly clean, cook amazing Sri Lankan food, organize all the other work that needs doing as Jungle Tide develops, and keep our guests happy and content – as many comments on Trip Advisor and in our Guest Book demonstrate. They live at the house in a separate staff wing and have that rare knack of being always available but never in your way. Martin and Rani are always willing to go the extra mile to make your visit memorable and to ensure any problems you encounter while staying at Jungle Tide are dealt with. We could not hope for better staff.
Nissanka Perera became our Project Manager when we bought the land in 2004. A former tea planter he had the know-how and contacts to organise the building of access roads, the bridge over the stream, the levelling of the house site, building the dam and planting trees. He oversaw the construction of the house and found us Martin and Rani to run it. Nissanka, seen here with one of the vintage cars he collects, will cease his role with us late in 2013 when he moves to Colombo, by which time all the major works to the house and garden will be complete. Jungle Tide would never have happened without him and we are eternally grateful.