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Journey to Dreamy Maldives

By Meeta Gajjar Parker

             We squeezed onto the tiny seaplane from Male, the capital of the Maldives which flew us onto a floating dock in the middle of the South Ari Atoll. There we boarded a boat called a “Donni” which delivered us to the Holiday Island Resort in the Alifu Atoll. We were dropped off on a long dock and walked up to our resort, gazing at the stunning view of the water of the Maldives. It appeared like a liquid dream on both sides of the dock. This was like no other place on earth that we had been before.  Just perfect shallow water with one resort planted in the center of the Island. We sat in the lobby and drank our refreshing welcome drink and wiped the sweat off our foreheads anxiously awaiting the moment when we’d be cooling off in that sweet inviting ocean.

               Maldives, south of India, is one of the most remote destinations in the world.  It is a country made-up of 26 tranquil Atolls having 1192 Islets, where only 250 are inhabited.  Only 87 of them have tourist resorts.  Maldives is one of the most beautiful places on earth and their biggest concern is global warming as the highest elevation is 8 feet above sea level.

              On our first day, we snorkeled on the side of the Island where there were more coral reefs.  When I was exhausted I sat in a hammock chair tied to a tree conversing with a native who chose to call himself “Happy,” instead of Ahmed. Frank, my husband, continued to snorkel and eventually I indulged in a freshly cut coconut. I drank the coconut water through a straw as I looked out at the water, wondering if it was time to reel Frank in. He has very fair skin and I didn’t want him sunburned on the first of our 6 glorious days in paradise. I asked Happy if he’d go find Frank and bring him back. 

             He whisked away on his jet ski, soaring on top of the water, looking for the guy with long hair.  When he found Frank he said, “Your wife wants you to come back in now.” Frank quickly retorted, “How do you know which one is my wife? What color is her bathing suit?” The funny part was that I was wearing a t-shirt over my bathing suit so he didn’t know. Finally, Frank gave in and hopped on his jet ski and came back to shore.

          That evening we were placed at designated tables for dinner and almost everyone had their own table.  We were taken over to a table where a French couple was already seated.  They looked a bit uncomfortable to have unfamiliar dinner guests join them.  This opened up conversation with the couple seated at the table next to us.  Evie and Pete became our friends for the next 5 days until they left.  We’d see them reading on their deck or laying out on their beach lounge chairs that were provided for all the guests.  The cushions on top of the chairs floated on the water and I soon discovered how wonderful it was to float on them myself.  I felt completely at one with the ocean and without a care.

The next day we took an Island hopping tour which took us to a local Island to see how the native people live.It’s a Muslim country so all the women had their heads covered. 

One day we hired a catamaran and went to a private Island to snorkel. Happy was our guide and he took us sailing past dolphins and over to an Island inhabited by a single man. We even tiptoed around his property checking out his plants and landscaping. Who wouldn’t be curious about the only house on an island? 

          We returned from breakfast one morning and found our bed decorated with flowers.  Our room boy had created this special artwork.  We were so excited that we gave him a nice tip, but as beautiful as his artwork was, the lovely flowers came with tiny ants.  Frank and I quickly removed the flowers, feeling badly that the boy had done such a wonderful job and that we had to undo it...  But, I was not sleeping in a bed full of little ants.  I took the flowers behind our bungalow and sprinkled them over the sand.  The tropical flowers looked so pretty I just had to take pictures of them lying there like forgotten pieces of scattered paradise.

Maldives is quite expensive, and we were very excited when we discovered that there was a great place to snorkel for free nearby. This was on “Sun Island” and had a free water shuttle.  Many people were already going there.  We snorkeled off the deck of an Italian restaurant, climbed down a ladder and lowered ourselves into the warm, crystal clear, turquoise blue water of the Indian Ocean. It was like being inside a giant aquarium full of billions of tropical fish.

Our hotel was fully booked, yet at times it seemed as if we had our own private beach on our very own private Island.  We enjoyed amazing sunsets with bold shades of red, pink, orange and blue night after night from the beach behind our bungalow. 

The staff and other guests referred to us as “The Americans” because we were the only ones at the resort.  Americans are rarely seen in these parts and we wanted to represent our country favorably.

My final impression of the magnificent Maldives can be summed up with these words.  “If you ever get the chance to plant your feet on an Island in these Atolls, you will know that you have been blessed to experience one of those few special places on earth.”

Meeta Gajjar Parker is the author of the Children's book entitled "Cookie the Clown," she owns a payphone company with her husband Frank Parker, teaches yoga and has been a professional vocalist for the last 20 years with 4 CD's to her name. She enjoys traveling the world with her husband and is an avid photographer.
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