Tuesday July 5 – I woke up at 4:45am and wasn’t able to fall back asleep. Part of it was that I’d signed up for a snorkeling tour to see Manta rays this morning but I wasn’t sure if the weather or sea would be good (it was really windy) and part was that I have no idea what I’m doing with the Camino walk I’ll start next week and IT’S NEXT WEEK. And I’m in the Maldives not preparing. I had hoped a friend would be able to join but I got word last night that it won’t be possible due to familial obligations. So now I really need to figure stuff out. I finally got out of bed at 5:30am and started to do some more reading and make a plan. Or get close to making a plan. I’m planning to walk part of the northern coastal route, rather than the Frances that so many walk. It’s a busy, hot time of year but it’s apparently less busy and less hot along the northern route (but more challenging of a walk). More on that later.
I had to be at the sister hotel (where I checked in and
where I have my meals) at 6:50am, and I quickly decided to take a seasickness pill. Everyone looked worried and they brought me a glass of water like they were attending to a frail old lady. The others on the trip were the Italian couple I arrived with on Sunday after the harrowing sea voyage. I doubted I needed the pill for a small boat but it felt better to have it since I didn’t know what to expect.
The boat headed out to where the Mantas feed on plankton and it was a strange experience. Two other boats were in the same place and everyone was looking for the Mantas. They swim quite close to the surface, so you can spot them from the boat. We sat on the edge of the boat, waiting for the word to jump in. Then we would jump and the Manta would swim by and then it would be gone and we would get in the boat and follow or find another and repeat the procedure. Honestly it felt like we were hunting Mantas. Not super comfortable for me or the Mantas, I’d have to say. It was great to see them,
but it was nowhere near as relaxing as the experience my cousin Jason and I had in Hawaii years ago.
Then we were onto the next (surprise) destination, the turtle spot. Last night when I had confirmed the trip, the hotel staff asked if I wanted to pay more to see the turtles. I said no, since I’ve seen plenty of turtles (even though they’re cool). So I’d guessed that the Italians wanted to see the turtles. Fine, we could go see the turtles. It turned out to more difficult than I’d expected. The boat dropped us off with the guide and then we swam, mostly against the current it felt, for close to an hour. My mask is getting old and leaks a little, so it’s not ideal. Eventually the guy in the couple went back to the boat. His partner was helped swimming by the guide and I just followed along. Most of the time we were too far above the reef for good visibility, especially with all the sand in the water. Sometimes though I could get a clear look. We did finally see one turtle but it was quite far below us. I got a
poor video but no photos. I almost bought a GoPro for this trip. I’m glad I didn’t as visibility is poor everywhere that I’ve seen. Now, if I’d had one in Tahiti this spring, that would have made all the difference.
Back on shore, the three of us walked back to the hotel. I talked to the woman and learned she is a new police officer in Bergamo. I’m guessing she’s mid-20s. I’m impressed when I see younger people here. I just always assumed that it was far too expensive to be realistic at that age. Then again, when I was that age, it was illegal for tourists to be on inhabited, non-resort islands, and it wouldn’t have been cheap enough. I took a quick shower and then went to breakfast. Technically breakfast was over, but they had to keep it going for us since it was their tour that made us late. After breakfast I paid for the tour and it was the same price we had agreed on last night, so that was nice. No more for the turtle.
Post-breakfast I felt exhausted and like I really wanted a nap. It was a combo of little
sleep and the motion tablet. On one hand, it’s a holiday so sleep, girl! On the other, sleeping the day away when it’s not raining? Lame. Plus, it would be harder to get to bed early if I napped. Instead I relaxed a bit and got ready to head out to the beach.
It was still cloudy but I thought I’d go read my book and if I fell asleep outside, that’s like a normal holiday thing to do. This time I walked in a different direction down the bikini beach and magically found a chair that was free. And no one was in the vicinity! Perfect. It was under trees and there were no mosquitos! I watched crabs, I read, I snoozed. It was good. But it was also windy and I actually started to feel cold. The sun peeked out a few times and I wanted to stand in it, but it was high tide and the beach is basically gone. I didn’t want to get in the water since I’d be even colder when I was wet. I stayed until 4pm when it felt even windier and then started to rain a little. Perfect time to
leave. As I packed up I noticed something large and strangely shaped in the water. I realized it was a kite surfer’s kite, sans kite surfer. But then a kite surfer came in on another kite to collect it. I left before it was all done but it was interesting.
Back in my room I did a little more research into the Camino. Then at 5pm I headed out to my, and the whole island’s, favorite evening hangout, the port area. This is where the community all comes to hang out in the evenings when it’s cooler. Very common to so many places I’ve been. This area has the port, the bats, the stage where people were once again practicing the dance I’d seen on Sunday, the soccer field, the mosque, and chairs to relax. It’s like the town square. It’s also where everyone spends time cycling past on motor scooters with sleeping kids, or couples going by, or just people on their way nowhere, from what I can tell. This island takes no more than 10-15 minutes to get anywhere by foot. How can there be such a need for motorized vehicles?
I walked out further this
time towards the boats, and there was something I still don’t understand. Several rowboats were out and one man in each boat was keeping it in place by rowing and the other man was flicking water constantly and throwing a fish line. It looked like a ritual but I have no idea what is was about. It went on for some time. Lots of people were taking videos or photos. Maybe it does not happen every day. And the whole time the dancing group was practicing. Their singing and the drums really put atmosphere everywhere you go in the port area. I also saw two mama bats flying with their pups but had the wrong camera for zooming in. I had taken the waterproof one in case it rained. It didn’t.
There were 6 (Dutch? Flemish?) people already seated for dinner when I arrived at 6:59. Dinner starts at 7pm. But since I had ordered at breakfast (part of the package) and they were ordering a la carte, their salads only came out after my salad, dinner, and dessert. I quite like getting in and getting out and not dawdling at dinner. I read my book the whole time
but it’s nice that they know when you will arrive and have it going already.
My goal tonight is to try to get to bed much earlier. With this blog done now, just after 9pm, I think that will be possible.
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Home and Away
I didn't realize you are walking a Camino immediately after you return from the Maldives. I hop you can get some rest, because if you are walking the Norde route, as you say, it is more difficult with all the ups and owns, than the Frances with its share of hills. As for walking alone, you should have no problem forming friendships with strangers along the way. I hope you found this out my reading my blogs. Now get some sleep even if you use Ambien.
RICHARD S BURTON
I'm loving the newest iteration of the travel blog, and really lije the underwater pics despite your critique of them@ Im glad you're back at it!