February 8th 2016, Maldives

I arrived fast at the airport and I’m listening to this song reminding me of […] Oh well, in a few hours I will be in Maldives, so who cares?

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During landing I see the light blue/turquoise water and the many small islands with white, transparent waters. The whole plane is staring and I don’t even bother to ruin their joy.

The first slap of the 31 degrees and crazy humidity hit me once we got out of the airport. It is small, but so cute, like a big hut and once you go out for pick-up you are in front of the water. We landed on the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, on the Hulhule Island. From here, you have to take the boat to travel anywhere. Actually Maldives is composed of around 1200 islands. More precise 1190. So, obviously, transportation has to be done by boat or by water planes. They are so cute and small and take off every now and then.

The feeling in the Maldives is that you are on water and not on land. Water is all around and you go through water to move around. And the water is truly unique. So blue and clear that it strikes you. You can see the bottom of the water, the fish, the coral reefs. Which, of course, makes it the best place to snorkel and dive. I’m not much into diving, but it’s definitely on my list. I’ve done snorkeling in Egypt – for the very first time around 12 years ago, in Zanzibar and in other places, but nothing compares to the Maldives. I told my friend R., whom I convinced to join me, that it is better than National Geographic. And it is.

However, if you want to go in holiday make sure you plan your budget as Maldives is extremely expensive. If we take one of the best hotels, the price a night for a villa is around $500 and…then you add 12% tax (for all goods and services in the country, even for the locals), $6 environment fee per person per night and 11,2% service charge. Boat is around $250 because it is private, but if you share, you can get to maybe $100 per trip. One way. Sea plane would be around $500-600 as well, for a return ticket, which goes to about the same as the boat, more or less. But if I remember I paid $150 in Bangladesh, in one of the poorest countries in the world, for one burger and two glasses of cheap wine, it’s reasonable.

Republic of Maldives is a Muslim country, so alcohol is sold only in resorts and, as you can guess, it is expensive. Even water, souvenirs or anything else is expensive, but it’s an experience that it’s worth trying at least once in a lifetime. Where I want to go is Conrad Rangali, the famous place where they have an underwater restaurant. And for sure, I’ll get there.

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So, I’m by the pool in Maldives, looking at the early sunset, at the blue water throught the palms of the resort where we’re in. And at the orchids growing by them. Sipping cocktails, talking about destiny – again!!! Life purpose, souls, reincarnation. For sure, I found a friend, so let’s start another adventure. I love adventures in two and in each trip I know who that person is going to be. One look is enough. Souls recognize each other. Good, we’re now running to change and catch the boat shuttle. Missed it by 30 seconds. Well, we’re now off to the airport to catch the state ferry to Male, costing $1 per person one way.

This is the time we get to see the local feel of the main islands of Maldives. I don’t know how locals are supposed to look and I don’t know what is the local language (it is Maldivian – Dhivehi), but they all look Indian and/or Sri Lankan. And probably they are as Maldives is just South-West of India and Sri Lanka.

There’s only one more woman on the ferry and she’s covered. We’re in Male in less than 10 minutes and we get lost on the crazy streets – more like alleys. We joke calling them highways, but they’re as wide as for one narrow car. The island is invaded by motorbikes. They seem to be coming from all sides and you could swear they don’t care if you’re there or not, but they eventually stop. We’re in a square, where the flag of Maldives is high up, then again we get lost on the island. We’re hungry, but thank God, we seem to get along, so it’s not awkward. Finally we hop in a taxi and he takes us to “the best restaurant” called Seagull Cafe House. He’s probably smoked something, thinks we are in honeymoon and keeps telling R. that he should have 3 wives, like him. I ask if he can afford them and he says they can work, so no need. 🙂 We tipped him 150% for making us laugh out loud.

Restaurant is awesome, an inside garden with sand on the floor and also a top floor. I take my shoes instantly and think of the fish and wine I’m going to have. Did I say wine? Well, I got guava juice and it was indeed delicious. We ordered red snapper – which I discovered in Seychelles – and he got the tuna. The food was extraordinary and the presentation as well. Price – reasonable, $30 for both.

We’re getting lost again on the narrow streets and we are the only white people we see. I’m not racist, but it’s something I had not expected. If someone teleported me there I would never guessed it’s Maldives where I am. One of the best parts of the job, besides being in Maldives right now, is that I meet great people, people I learn from, people who influence me and whom I influence. Sometimes in a cafe or on the street or of the crew or just randomly in a museum. I’m way beyond my old beliefs system and what people think. Screw that!

I find out he has always waned to become (as a job) what he is now and he’s not that young and made it just a few years ago. I think it’s amazing! Amazing that one knows since they’re kids what they want to become and that they eventually do it, no matter how long it takes. I love he asks me questions, because I don’t ask questions, but I answer anything with no shyness or covers. But I don’t want to tell him what I was dreaming about becoming when I was young. He tries to guess but there’s no way he does. And it’s not like I would ever admit.

First time it made me think about some issues I might have had back then and about the chances that one day to becomes reality. Well, I wanted to be two things. One, I don’t think I will ever get to be and I actually hope I don’t. No matter how cold blooded I might be. But the other one…

“-I will never say.

– Why?

– Because I might just be one, one day…”

Deep down, I know I am heading there. This is just training.

Meeting people who make you think and ask yourself questions it a blessing. Although you don’t exchange numbers and emails. You don’t talk, maybe ever again…Maybe not by chance, it’s the first day of the Chinese Year.

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Oh well, we’re back with the ferry and have one last beer by the pool.

 

February 9th 2016, Maldives

At 9 AM we leave from the airport by boat. It’s already hot, but we’re lucky because now it’s rainy season in Maldives and we caught 2 sunny days. Maldives is dominated by the monsoon. That’s why it rains from July to August because of the Southern monsoon and from November to March because of the Northern monsoon. Leaving May-June/September-October as best months to visit it.

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Some of the people on the boat go diving and they seem to be doing it for the very first time. Other are experienced as this very senior – OMG – French couple. Hats off to them! We look like a couple, but obviously we’re not. Actually, most of the times people take me and my adventure friends as a couple and it’s quite funny. We’re here to snorkel and I take it as a new experience. I did not expect this amazing underworld adventure, so many feelings and so many colors and so much life.

We snorkeled in two places, one close to the Paradise Island and one close to Karumba. My friend liked more the first spot, but my thoughts that the current would take me away to the rocks encircling the resort made me feel a bit scared. And because he just disappeared and I did not know which our boat was.

Looking in the deep blue waters of Maldives I remembered a few things I lead my life after, trying to find words to express it to my friend: the things have the importance you give them, anything can be solved eventually and what I do and how I deal with it decides the matter, not the matter itself.

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This morning I was in a place that looks like this…
…seeing the most amazing and colorful fish and some sharks (they are vegetarian) and turtles, nature as it is, much better than anything invented by man.
Believe me, it was better than National Geographic!

I’ve seen so many fish I did not even know they exist: with black and white huge dots, with green and purple, yellow and blue, in vertical colorful stripes and in narrow horizontal stripes, with all sorts of ways of swimming, banks of fish (around 2-300 hundred), just looking at me when I was observing them from less than half a meter, beautiful corals looking like huge brains, huge snakes, animal print snakes, long nosed fish, square ones, flat ones, fat ones, turtles, white and black tipped sharks. A Paradise of nature, indeed!

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On top of the boat we meet E., from Portland, Oregon, working for an airline – of course, nothing is by chance – 4 months a year only. Traveling the world for the rest and sometimes designing kitchens and bathrooms. Cool life. He just came from Hong Kong, goes every year for King’s Day in Netherlands, likes Bangkok, he’s been everywhere. So yes, it can always get better. Make a dream and follow it. You don’t need to be tied up to some stupid job making you feel miserable. I’m telling R. corporations are the worst, true nowadays slavery machines.

Yes, I’m sunburned on my back, but I don’t seem to learn. I came sunburned from Zanzibar, Seychelles and now Maldives. But it’s worth it, 100% worth it. One more fish by the pool and a good nap with the window opened towards the water. Off back home.

11s everywhere. Messages from angels perhaps. I just smile and step forward more confident.