It rained heavily the next day forcing me to cancel all my plans. Being holed up in my room, doing nothing was strangely relaxing and the storm disconnected the wifi connection completely. Nature took over my attention completely and the island seemed like a whole world of different sounds. The patch of tropical tangle in the middle of Fenfushi came alive with numerous insects and their buzz broke the intermittent between showers silent spells. Lightning and rain frustrated the cuckoos living in the surrounding breadfruit orchards and they went hoarse from singing out loud. All along, the rain pounded on our little island mercilessly and fierce winds rushed in noisily across the Indian Ocean. The water and the wind turned into a naughty tag team of elements and occasionally when the wind quietened down, Indian Ocean roared like a demanding child. It was loud especially on the western part of the island and was just another reason why I liked my offbeat Maldives experience at Fenfushi.
My tryst with the local food in the offbeat Maldives stay
In retrospect apart from not conforming to the ethical issues, the offbeat Maldives was a very pleasant experience which came with a pinch of travel issues. The local food, however, gets tiring quickly and except for one lunch, all my meals on the island tasted the same. My meals rotated without fail consisted of coconut fish curry with rice and salad and once upon my request, Moosa’s wife prepared the real Maldivian dishes of breadfruit curry with fish and coconut chapati. Strangely the fish curry was considered vegetarian and I liked the slurpy texture of breadfruit with the crunchy sweetness of coconut chapattis. Unfortunately, my praises made my chef too enthusiastic and the next day she churned up chicken, fish and more coconut chapattis for dinner. There’s a very truthful saying, that too much of everything is bad and her over-enthusiastic efforts resulted in me having a day of mild stomach upset. After that, I faithfully stuck to the tried and tested culinary routines and she kindly added sweet breadfruit poppadums for dessert every night.
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This is what the paradise called the offbeat Maldives looks like
The torrential rainstorm cleared out by next afternoon and soon Moosa, Suja (boatman and guide) and I set out to explore around Fenfushi. Despite the skies being cloud free, the wind was very strong and Maldives’s famous blue-green waves were not at all gentle. Being born without a queasy stomach, I sailed away from Fenfushi towards the nearby uninhabited island and soon the expanse of Indian Ocean dwarfed us all. The clear green water spread into dark blue depths and frothy surf lightly tipped the rolling waves. The horizon stretched till what had seemed like the eternity and snow white gulls noisily circled over sea walls. Owing to the impending storm, the birds of the seas were restless and little political campaign boats bobbed viciously in the water. Soft golden sandbanks arrived one after another and they were spectacular roosts for those restless gulls. They rested there in colonies, with rare spots of black crows disturbing their milky whiteness and it was beautiful to watch them fly out in droves, as our little boat veered too close.
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The dark side of Maldives’ resort scene
Fenfushi had many sandbanks around it and we stopped at one for a short break. It was a small mound of sand right in the middle of Indian Ocean’s limitlessness and there was nothing more solitary or calming than to exist as mere dots there. All around us, waves crashed and rolled and the sky bore down in a very dominating way. I found it to be an amazing experience to be sandwiched between the sky and the sea, but angry rain clouds made us head for the nearest island soon. It was a small jewel of an island, where nothing existed apart from fragrant mangroves and wildflowers and the beach had soft sands rolling into the ocean. Privately owned by a nearby resort, holidaymakers used the island for day trips and picnics and they left their unkind marks all over its surface. Sadly, some parts of the beach had remnants of dead coral lying stiff and broken and trash was dumped around in a most careless way.
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The offbeat Maldives is perhaps even more enchanting than the advertised one
The rest of the island was very serene and it was a perfect place to rest, swim and snorkel peacefully away from the prying eyes. The water around the island was crystal clear and rich marine life thrived in it. Complete with schools of colourful fishes, different varieties of coral and small turtles, the thriving underwater world was very busy in stark contrast to the quiet emptiness of the uninhabited island. Only the sky gave away the fast approaching storm and that was an unforgettable sight. The stark colour contrast between the calm green ocean and the golden beach was captivating enough when the rain clouds started grouping into fantastic formations in the sky. It also started raining by the time I reached ashore and fat sweet raindrops pelted on a smooth salty surface. They smacked me hard on my skin and I scrambled for cover in the shade of leafy mangrove bushes. The storm moved on quickly, letting a timid sun to come out and patches of sunlight dappled the surrounding sandbanks. The Maldives is one of the most breathtaking places on earth and there is no overrating in it. But even paradise has its own problems and the Maldives was knee deep in hers.
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Consider a bit of responsible travelling while visiting the Maldives
Like the rest of Maldives, trash-choked the little island and waves carried them to the sea. Though privately owned by the resort, no drive was undertaken by them to clean up the debris left by the day trippers and the island was a dumping ground for bottles, plastic bags, used sanitary napkins and soiled diapers. They were strewn among the plants, between patches of wild grass and crabs and shellfishes scurried over them confusedly. The sight was too painful to bear and soon Sujaa and I collected a boat full of trash to be sent for recycling. Our little effort took us nearly 2 hours and although it did not allow any more island hopping, we left for Fenfushi feeling good about ourselves. That evening Moosa, the usually taciturn man was unusually awkwardly chatty and it was a big surprise to find that he planned for a complimentary night fishing, with sleeping on a sandbank excursion for me on the following night. His simple “thank you” gesture touched my heart and having achieved a small good deed, I went to bed happy.
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RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE