Friday, July 8 – Today is like a Saturday at home since weekends are Friday & Saturday here. It’s also the mosque-going day, like Christians and Sunday church. Due to this, not all boats travel on Fridays, but I’m glad this island was one of those that did. I was able to sleep a little longer today and got out of bed at 7:30. Breakfast was quick, with a couple of fried eggs on toast and some vegetable curry with chapati bread.
It was a little rainy so I went back to my room and puttered around on the internet before giving snorkeling another go. I had dreams last night of enormous sharks and harrowing circumstances which made me a little nervous, but decided to be brave and go again.
I felt incredibly lucky that two women arrived on the beach, snorkels in hand, shortly after I did. No one was around yet and I’d rather have someone notice that I’m around. It looked very much like it was about to storm or have a great big downpour, but since I was going to be wet already, it was fine.
They got in shortly after me and we
were all heading out and a bit over towards where I was yesterday. It started out the same though, several minutes of not being able to see much past my own hands, freaking me out, convinced I would never find what I was looking for and instead swim right into Jaws’ mouth. I did of course find the right spot, and almost instantly I saw the turtle again. That was very chill and peaceful. And I was finally able to get pictures. I saw all the same fish as yesterday, including the small sharks, plus a couple anemone with clown fish. I swam closer to the port area than I had yesterday and all of a sudden there were two seemingly enormous sharks that strolled by and then off into the gloom. I decided it was maybe a good idea to start making my way back in the other direction again. The two women had moved on around the port but I wasn’t going to go that way. There was another family snorkeling nearby, though, so again I felt pretty safe.
Both today and yesterday I could tell if a boat was in the area because underwater it sounded
like someone was cutting metal with an electric saw. It must be incredibly annoying for the wildlife under the sea to contend with this all the time.
I had a nice snorkel overall, spending an hour in the water. I would have liked to have seen the turtle again, but it was great that I did see it today at all. When I got out of the water, it was incredibly sunny with blue skies. What a change from an hour earlier! The two women also got out around the same time I did and I heard them speaking English. I stopped over by them on my way back to say hi and thank them for accidentally being there when I needed some distant supervision. We had a nice chat and then I had to be on my way.
Back in my room, I showered and finished the final packing, hanging my swimsuit and dress in the sun to dry a bit first. My hotel was very kind to let me stay in my room past check out since no one was checking in today. I ate the last ramen, made tea, and chatted with Jeroen. He will
pick me up at the airport in Zurich tomorrow morning. Brilliant.
I had to leave a little earlier than expected due to the boat coming half an hour earlier, but it was not a problem. By then, the weather has changed again and was incredibly windy with some drizzle. I walked over to the other hotel with both backpacks, despite them saying they would fetch them for me. It really was no problem. A couple other men from the hotel were waiting for the boat as well. It turns out they were there for some type of environmental conference this week.
I got a lift to the speedboat and waited inside with others until it showed up. Several of the guys who work in the hotel were there to see us off and got me and the other men on the boat first. First-class service indeed. I sat next to one of the men I had met earlier and after we were on our way, I read a little and slept the rest of the way. It was not nearly so bumpy as my ride to Ukulhas but lots of water rolling over the sides and top, it
I had two hours at the airport before I could actually go inside and check-in, three hours before the flight. That’s when I wrote what you’re reading until now, checked the internet, and then spent the $9 or so in local currency I had left. Everything is labeled in USD, so I was unsure exactly what I could get. Not much, it turns out. But I got an oreo blizzard from DQ, a coffee for the guy from my hotel, and then after security, I used exactly all the rest of my money to buy a kiwi lime freezy drink thing, also from DQ. It was green and it tasted like green. Kiwi lime? I think just all lime brain freeze.
The flight to Abu Dhabi was uneventful. I had a window seat and the middle seat was open, so it did not feel crowded. During dinner, I watched one movie, The Fallout, about a school shooting and the effects on a small group of survivors. Then I watched the second episode of What We Do in the Shadows. Then a tried to sleep until the lights came back on and then watch the third
episode. Weird show.
I’m currently waiting at the Abu Dhabi airport. It’s 1:12am and at 1:45 they will post which gate my flight departs from. Joke’s on them – my boarding card tells me which gate it is! Boarding starts at 2:15 and the flight leaves at 3:15. Then I expect they’ll feed us again and very little sleep will be had by all. It’s really a travesty to have flights at these times but at least Jeroen is home getting enough sleep to wake up early to pick me up in Zurich when I arrive in the morning.
The second flight wasn’t as delightful as the first. I started to watch Cyrano, but fell asleep less than 30 minutes in. Then they served us a meal but this time it was just a crappy sandwich. I read the news while I ate and then tried to sleep. It was less comfortable than the first flight. I had another window seat but both the aisle and middle seats were taken, so there was less space. And the guy next to me was full-on manspreading, so I tried to keep a claim on my territory.
started another meal service about two hours from Zurich, which surprised me. This was a warm breakfast. I chose the Asian vegetarian option and it was ok. I decided to just stay up and watched all of Cyrano this time. Not bad but I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It does make me want to rewatch the Steve Martin version, though.
The passport line was quite long, since most passengers were Asian and like me, had to wait in the non-European line. There was also an issue with the baggage. My bag did not come out but when the conveyor belt stopped unloading, I could see there were still bags on it that hadn’t been delivered. I went to find someone and he said he'd check the computer because he’d had a message that one transfer bag did not make it. I kept trying to explain that it was probably on the conveyor belt and finally we went to look. He fixed the problem and the last 8 or so bags were dropped, mine being the very last one.
Jeroen was waiting in the crowd though being as tall as he is, I spotted him immediately. The
drive home was nice – so much better than taking the train when tired. Once I got in, put the bags down, and the cats started sniffing them, I knew I was home.
Would I recommend a trip to the Maldives? Yes, definitely. I enjoyed staying on an inhabited island and getting to see locals going about their daily lives. This is part of what travel is about for me. The people from the Maldives are very polite and the ones I interacted with would go out of their way to help. They are traditional but still plenty in the modern world. For those who are not interested in local life, there are the resorts. I talked to a couple in line at the airport who had just spent the same 9 nights I had in the country, but on a resort island. One big difference is that they said 50% of the staff were women, whereas there were no women working in either hotel I stayed in. But that is probably because no one lives on the resort island so there are no local traditions, and not all staff are from the Maldives. High season would
probably be much better for weather, but it did not actually rain much and I’m thinking the clouds saved me a lot of sunburn hassles in the end, so that was ok. Either way, try to go and see it for yourself.
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