The Maldives…..Maafushi, Biyadhoo and fish curry. Part 1
The descent into the Maldives is spectacular, even though the weather isn’t fantastic with lots of grey heavy clouds around, I feel a rush of excitement as I begin to see the turquoise rims around the tiny islands dotted underneath me which is a beautiful sight.
We land, I reclaim my luggage and as I approach the customs desks I am handed an ‘entry form’ to complete. I pass through customs, being asked which hotels I am staying in……..how long I am planning to stay………when do I leave and where am I flying onto, I know the answers to all of these questions, easy!………
As I exit the arrivals hall out into the street the heavens open and I realise that the tunic that I am wearing over leggings is not suitable attire for ‘rain’. My earlier rush of excitement reduces as I acknowledge that I hadn’t banked on this weather, it wasn’t in my plan, what if it’s like this for the full five days ‘Oh shit what have I done!’
I stand undercover and people watch, hoping that I may see something that will A. Post me in the direction of something to do for 7 hours, until the ‘Dhoni’ is due or B. Find where I can enquire about a shared speedboat to Maafushi. I realise that although I have GBP, USD and Sri Lankan LKR I have no Maldives currency, better than that I don’t even know what the currency is, or what the exchange rate to GBP is (A piece of research that I intended to complete whilst in Sri Lanka but failed to do.)
I find an ATM which doesn’t accept my card, so I head back into the airport to seek out a travel counter to exchange some currency. As I do so I see a young man holding up a board ‘Speedboat to Maafushi’…….Result!………I am happy! Not only do I negotiate a one way trip to Maafushi for 20USD with the holder of the board but also change some currency with him. Although at the time I have no idea what I should of been expecting in terms of exchange rate. (Note to self…really really important to know what the currency is of the country you’re in and have some idea of the exchange rate!)
The rain passes and I share the speedboat with another 4 people, then after a bumpy 30 minute ride, we arrive at Maafushi as the heavens open up once again. We climb onto land and I am aware that my tunic is now, to some extent, see through due to the rain, so I wrap myself in a large cotton shawl, even though the temperature is close to 30 degrees Celsius. As we wait on the harbour for our luggage to follow us from the speedboat, I am greeted by another young man asking ‘Lisa ?’ ‘Yes that’s me’ I reply he smiles, says hello and then ushers me towards a scooter.
‘Come’ he says as he climbs on, I position myself behind him wondering what will happen to my luggage? This is the second time in a week that I have been on the back of a scooter driven by a man much younger than myself……..it’s quite nice……….I am driven a short distance to The Arena Beach Hotel at the other side of the island, looking less than glamorous, wrapped in a wet shawl. The image that I had built in my head of my arrival on the Maldives is a million miles from this reality.
The Hotel is very welcoming and after checking in I am told that my room will be available shortly. I sit in the lounge and make small talk with two Spanish gentlemen who sit beside me. They tell me that they have been here for 3 days and it hasn’t stopped raining…..not what I wanted to hear….they were waiting to depart and told me that although they had enjoyed their stay on the island, other than snorkelling and taking trips to surrounding islands there was pretty much nothing else to do. I am not too concerned as the whole point of travelling all this way to the Maldives was to snorkel and that can be done in the rain.
As I sit in the reception my thoughts turn to the distance that I have travelled to be here and that I have finally arrived at my first port of call on the Maldives, ‘Maafushi.’ Soon enough I am shown to my room, which is great and as it was a very early start in Sri Lanka this morning I am shattered. I climb into bed for a ‘Nanna nap’ and when I wake the sun is shining, Yippeeee!!!