Sometimes, at the end of an extended trip, after many long train rides, days of backpacking, multiple early-to-rise and late-to-bed days, there’s a bit of a sense of relief when the time to return home arrives. This, for us, unfortunately, is not one of those times.
I don’t know how long it would take on a remote, all-inclusive, luxury island to get a sense of being homesick. How many rich meals of steak and lobster and giant prawns would it take? How many umbrella drinks and unfinished bottles of champagne? How much soaking in infinity pools staring off into a crystal clear azure horizon? How many afternoon naps on an empty stretch of beach, inside enclosed hammocks, under the shade of palm trees, lulled to sleep by the sound of gentle waves coming ashore? How many brilliant pastel sunrises and sunsets would I need to watch? How many cloudless nights, laying out watching shooting stars?
I don’t know how many, but I know it’s quite a few more than five.
Alas, though, it’s time to come home. It’s been a lovely trip, altogether perfect. The final stop here on a luxury resort island is a first for both of us. It’s gotten us talking a bit about the ideal way to pace a multi-stop trip, with consideration for how the destinations flow together and how the trip opens and closes. We both agree that a resort-type stop is a great way to close a trip with multiple stopovers. One could argue for getting the relaxation in upfront. Also, you don’t acquire as much in terms of souvenirs and shopping in a resort, which would be nice at the beginning of a trip. Additionally, there’s something to be said for achieving a sense of homesickness by the end of a trip. It dulls the negative side of a beautiful trip coming to an end. You’re just not going to get that feeling as easily in a resort. Nevertheless, relaxing at the end of a trip, reflecting on where you’ve been and where you might go next, is a really nice way to close things out.
So, as for our time here, our days have largely blurred together. We did a vow renewal on the 26th, which was very nice. All the details were taken care of perfectly. We did a lot of snorkeling all around the island, and we took a boat trip out to a big drop-off and snorkeled over the reef in deeper waters there as well. We never really got motion sickness, but we both took a pass on doing any SCUBA anyway. All of the water villas have porches with steps that take you out to some nice snorkeling around the island reef. The sunset villas though are way more secluded, and there are no other people snorkeling back there. We never had anyone behind our villa. We did however take notice of a particular sea creature who shared the residence with us. A large octopus, who we decided to call “Octavius,” had a really nice hidey-hole right by our porch steps and a backup hidey-hole under our main bathroom on the other side of the villa. He could change colors pretty dramatically whenever you got near him, and one time he spit a bunch of ink or something. Martha decided that he totally hated me.
The people watching here, as always, has been pretty entertaining. A large number of the guests here, it would seem, are terrified of both swimming and getting any sun exposure. Seriously. Guests will be on the beach in longs sleeves, pants, gloves, and big floppy hats. Also, I had no idea that entire families with neon colored “Crocs” footwear could look so absurd. They truly are an offense against good taste. And the guy that walked up to the front desk in the lobby, still wearing a life vest and had his mask still on his face, discussing the bill with staff…. Really??? And the swimming…. ok, I get the need for life vests if you’re snorkeling on the outer reef and there are strong currents. However, full wetsuits, life vests, gloves, and swim caps when you’re in knee deep water with nothing but sand seems a little paranoid. A staff member told us that a number of guests in over-water villas actually sleep in their life vests. They’re afraid of tsunamis. Now, it’s possible that if a tsunami blasted through the island, we’d be dashed upon villa debris in our underwear, clinging for life and breathing mouthfuls of ocean water while they body-surfed triumphantly to safety on the crest of the incoming wave. I’m calling that unlikely though, and if you’re really worried about it, maybe a remote island in the Indian Ocean isn’t a choice vacation destination for you.
As far as we were able to tell, there wasn’t a single other American on the island while we were here. We also never identified any other American visitors in Male´or in the airport. Our butler told us that in the four years he’s been looking after guests in the sunset villas, he’s only had one other group of Americans besides us. We made a game out of it occasionally at restaurants and get-togethers… trying to identify any other Americans. We were certain we had spotted one at lunch yesterday. He had all the mannerisms that told us: American. Specifically: Southern American. He was downing cocktails without the straw. The walk, hard to say why, seemed to scream American. Maybe it was the swagger, and the Oakleys, and the totally unnecessary watch while holding a cellphone. After a bit though, Martha decided he wasn’t American, and her guess (from a distance) was Russian. I had to verify though and strolled by for a listen to the conversation. And the verdict….. Russian. Who knows, maybe he’s watched a lot of Hollywood movies. Or, maybe, we just have absolutely no idea how to identify one of our own from a distance. The weird thing is though, staff everywhere speak English, all signs are in English, and the preferred currency is U.S. Dollars.
We had a great time here though and we’d love to start mixing in some stops like this in future trips.
Where to next? Who knows? How about some itinerary brainstorming:
Katmandu… Turkmenistan… Myanmar… Bali?
Paris… Iraqi Kurdistan… Pakistan/Kashmir… Fiji?
Abu Dhabi… Yemen/Socotra… Madagascar… Seychelles?
London… Cairo… Tehran… Bora Bora?
Hmmmm, tough choices. We’ll figure something out. Until next time…
Here’s our complete Maldives gallery, as a slideshow and thumbnails: