“Blue skies, smilin’ at me
Nothin’ but blues skies do I see…”
(Lyric excerpt from ‘Blue skies’ by Frank Sinatra)
‘Where are you from?’
My initial thoughts after I heard that question for the umpteenth was “Maldivians must be very nosy people!”. Almost everyone we encountered in the Maldives asked us that question; the taxi driver, the ferry captain, the ladies/men over the counter, EVERY SINGLE porter at our hotel, random strangers you paused long enough to exchange pleasantries with as well as other tourists (apparently it is a very infectious question).
It took me a while to realize that was the ‘official’ ice-breaker in the Maldives just as talking about the weather is in the UK. i.e. “Lovely weather today isn’t it? …” (topic for another day).
The first time I heard and saw the Maldives (photos, of course. Honesty is the best policy here) was back when I was studying at the University (Praise Jesus, those traumatic days are gone!). I made a mental note then to visit this beautiful and surreal place someday, sometime.
So, here’s hoping you are inspired and entertained (Uhuh! David LaChapelle coming through) by my experience in the beautiful Land of Blue.
“see the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes…”
(‘How far I’ll go’ lyric excerpt from Disney animation ‘Moana’)
From the sky, the first thing you will notice about the Maldives is how beautifully and unendingly blue it is. That is until you step out of the plane at the Male airport, feel the blast of the heat wave and the only thought you can manage is ‘Lawd have mercy!’
As soon as we were given the all-clear by border officials to proceed, we joined the teeming sea of tourists and made our way to the ferry terminal to board a 10-minute ferry to Male City.
A 5-minute taxi ride saw us at another ferry terminal and after what seemed like an eternity, we boarded another ferry to our destination island, Maafushi.
Maafushi is one of 1200 islands that make up the Maldives as well as one of the 400 islands that is inhabited (so claims one of the clerks at the hotel we stayed in but google suggests there are 200 inhabited islands so readers’ discretion is advised). There were porters from various hotels waiting at the dock for the new ‘arrivals’. After brief but pleasant introductions, we made our way down to our hotel where we were greeted with a cold glass of delicious freshly squeezed watermelon juice.
It was one step closer to paradise!
Like most tourist visiting the Maldives, Bud (That’s the hubby) and I were looking forward to engaging in a range of activities from kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, dolphin spotting, parasailing, island hopping and of course a sunset romantic dinner. So one of the first things we did shortly after arriving the Maldives was to peruse and compare package offers. Every dollar needs to be well spent (Mmhmm!)
A little background check on a prospective holiday destination goes a long way and guarantees a smoother experience. Aside from the usual checks such as weather condition, hotel rating and location, travel expenses, sights and programs, it is equally important to take into account the culture and people of the intended destination.
“A man without culture is like a Zebra without stripes” – African proverb
The Maldives is mostly (if not totally) an Islamic nation with most of its workforce comprising of the male gender. Being a nation heavily dependent on tourism, it’s only natural for its locals to be polite, friendly and very accommodating. However, one would occasionally encounter a conspicuous sign informing unassuming tourists to be aware of and respect the local culture.
Considering the benefits and pleasures to be gained in this exotic holiday destination, I would say that was a fair bargain!
Sunny beaches – Friend or Foe?
“A vacation is a sunburn at premium prices” – Hal Chadwicke
Amen brother Hal! (whoever that is).
One of the joys of vacationing in the Maldives is the pleasure of basking in the sun but alas! too much of anything (aside from jollof rice of course!) can indeed do more harm than good. So one essential item when embarking on a trip to the Maldives is a sunscreen (take it from a recovering sun-burnt African; living in the UK) because it is hot over there.
However, the warm and clear blue ocean adequately makes up for the discomfort or bashing (it’s a matter of perspective) from the sun.
So, if you are looking for the perfect place to get away from the rest of the world (literally), then the Maldives is just the place for you because there you will find that the ocean can be a friend of yours.