The Magnificent Maldives

 

BBC news says that to visit the Maldives is like witnessing the slow death of a nation. With maximum ground heights of only 7 feet 10 inches above average sea level, the Maldives is the lowest country in the world. It is predicted that within 100 years these pristine islands of paradise may be uninhabitable if sea levels continue to rise at the current rate. The planet (and the carelessness of humans) can be so cruel at times. Knowing that, I squeezed in a trip to the Maldives while visiting the Middle East and Asia. I was too close to this piece of heaven not to go. I had always drooled over aerial photographs of the islands and their over-the-water bungalows.

The Republic of Maldives consists of approximately 1,190 coral islands and sandbanks grouped together in 26 ring-shaped atolls (live coral reefs and sandbars) surrounded by crystal clear lagoons that are spread out in the Indian Ocean. Known for its captivating beaches, breathtaking blue lagoons, and fascinating coral reefs, the Maldives is one of the world’s most dispersed countries and a huge tourist attraction.

It is also an Islamic country with laws that strictly forbid the practice of any other non-Islamic religion. However, resort guests or other non-Muslim foreigners are allowed to practice their religions in private.

In order to get to your slice of nirvana, you can leave the airport either via a seaplane or a speedboat. I opted for the bird’s eye view of the seaplane which I later found out was actually the better choice since the island I was going to was quite far away and a speedboat probably wouldn’t have bode well with my traitor of a stomach. #seasick!

We landed in the sea a little closer to the island but had to board a small boat to get us to the resort. This was a cool method of transportation that indicated how the local Maldivians might travel.

Once docked at the resort, I was immediately aware that this was DEFINITELY not the United States! There was no ramp to get off the boat, so you had to take a gigantic step up to get onto the walkway. Uhmmm… Houston, we have a problem. Cerebral Palsy and gigantic steps are not at all compatible. Needless to say, they had to lift me up off the boat but in doing so both of my shins hit the hard concrete wall and I now have matching scars to remind me of my introduction to paradise. I’m just glad no one fell into the water attempting to help me off the boat… my scars were enough lol.

Resort life in the Maldives is really something special. I loved waking up in my transmarine bungalow to watch the sunrise. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. I hated being up before even the rooster wakes but my internal clock was still on Central time. However, the mesmerizing island sunrise made the sheer agony of being 11 hours ahead somewhat less painful. I’m pretty sure I was one of the select few vacationers up at that hour so I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Watching the Sun present the Earth over the water was a sight to behold and allowed me to be at one with my thoughts some mornings, and at other times just sit and be. Besides catching up on sleep and reading, I snorkeled one morning at sunrise before people started to wake up and venture out. I really liked being alone, trying to chase what I think was a baby shark with my GoPro. That little bugger was more elusive than a scared rabbit on the open plains and I barely caught it on camera. I first saw the slippery little fella once I left the water and took off my snorkel mask to leave. I was afraid I was going to lose sight of him had I gone back to the chair to put on my mask and trying to find him from above the water surface was definitely a challenge, although a delightful one.

Next, I opted to do an island-hopping tour that allows you to visit another island to see how the native Maldivian people live. Of course you had to get there by boat and I was less than thrilled to try and get off again; my shins were still sore from the first time! The boat ride was a lot longer than I had expected, well over 45 minutes, but it was more than worth it. En route, we happened upon a school of dolphins and turned the boat around to try and get a closer look. This was so fun and exciting to me because I had never seen them in the wild before.

I was smiling from ear to ear until we docked at the island. I then immediately started thinking about what new scars my sore shins would receive that day… yay lol. Luckily, I managed to make it off the boat without a scratch. I’m not sure if the water was higher or if the walkway was lower but either way, my shins were thankful. I was so excited to tour this island, to photograph how the Maldivian inhabitants live, and what they looked like, but within a few minutes of walking around I heard the Muslim call to prayer. Everyone went inside to pray. Oh man! Really?! Instead, I decided to use that time to photograph some of the island’s colorful doors and scenic landscapes.

Once the prayer was over, I noticed that the people were kind of shy, so I wasn’t able to capture the types of pictures that I wanted to but I’m happy with what I was able to document. I will definitely return to these alluring islands one day… before they disappear.

This trip was booked by Autumn’s Enlightened Travel.

Contact: theenglighteneddaughter@gmail.com (1-917-677-2071)

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