As part of my partner’s work here in the Maldives, she had to interview members of the Maldivian youth. As a result, yesterday morning, we took a speed boat out to Mahibadhoo, the capital of the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, which is home to 2,800 people and about 90 minutes from Malé by boat.
It was fascinating listening to the groups and to the island director and director of the atoll talking about the problems with living on the islands and being under 35, as it gave an insight into the lives of a community that not many visitors to the country get to see. The other male in our group and I left my partner and the translator to talk with the group of young women and walked around the island, which didn’t take very long, being considerably smaller than Malé, taking pictures along the way.
After we finished our focus groups, we had some food in the island cafe and then went for a quick paddle/swim on one of the beaches. Due to the local laws regarding not wearing revealing clothing on inhabited islands, we couldn’t swim properly, so we asked our boat crew if they could take us to an uninhabited island. (They use a legal fiction of resort islands being uninhabited to allow foreigners to get up to all sorts of shenanigans that wouldn’t be allowed by Maldivians.)
We spotted some dolphins just under the surface of the water and flying fish attempting to escape from the boat on our journey back. The crew managed to excel themselves and found us a sand bank in the middle of the South Malé Atoll. At high tide, the sand bank is underwater, but a low tide, it’s a C shaped desert island about 50m long. We arrived just in time to enjoy the sun setting, as people stripped to their bikinis or swimming shorts and enjoyed the warm waters.
The only downside to an amazing and unique day was discovering all the insect bites I appear to have received. The current count this morning stands at 20.