Monday, February 06, 2017

Ferry foray

Uligan Maldives is serviced by a small ferry boat, picking up and dropping off passengers and giving "carry on" a new meaning. It hops from island to island as the main link between neighbours.

So early one morning at 06:00, we jumped aboard to see a town 2.5 hours to the south. The beamy wood boat was nicely finished and the passengers sat on rows of wooden benches open to the sea breeze or lounged on the roof deck with a very low railing.

Looks safe!

First stop was a quick one at the pier of Mulhadoo, a small island an hour to the south. We watched from the deck as a gaggle of passengers with a motley assortment of cargo joined us for the trip further south. One of the passengers was a strikingly beautiful woman who later consented to a photo ashore.

Approaching Mulhadoo Island pier

Village beauty

A type of Maldivian fishboats

Second stop, our destination, was at Dhidhdhoo Island about another hour and a half further south with a population of about 3,000. It was 08:30 and we had until 15:00 to explore. Unfortunately there was very little of interest or to discover at Dhidhdhoo, making the hot day rather long...

Commerce and supplies were still very basic. We saw a good-sized school, a clinic and hospital, a simple pharmacy, and a small bank where we got rufiyaa (Maldivian currency) from the ATM. The grocery stores we noticed were only slightly bigger than ones at Uligan with a bit more to offer. There are very few vehicles - an ambulance, police car, taxi car, small cars/trucks; bicycles and scooters however seemed to be the main mode.

Walking along a street, we came across a man looking for help. Jordan stopped to see what he needed. He had the base of a huge dead palm and needed to load it into the back of a truck. Two other men saw the situation and between the four men, they were able to struggle with big muscles and loud moans and finally get it into the truck bed!

Group effort

We found a couple of basic (with a capital B) cafes and after some enquiries found a couple of suitable restaurants of which we patronized while watching shadows move from west to east. One of the restaurants was tucked away in one of the ubiquitous, austere, back alleys. Behind the stark exterior, we found a contrast in ambiance where the cozy tables sat semi-screened by shrubs under a gazebo roof.

Upon seeing a humble shop with 4 tailors busy at their machines, we engaged them to make us a courtesy flag for Yemen as it quite likely would be our next passage stop on our way to the Red Sea. The simple horizontal red, white, and black striped flag cost us only 20 rufiyaa ($1.70).

A quick sew-up

As we walked the streets of sand, it was disappointing to see all the garbage strewn about contrasting the neat and clean Uligan Island. The seaside was even worse with disgusting piles of garbage, the dominated ingredient being plastic, primarily water bottles. This sordid legacy to nature of our era is most obvious as seen from the travels on the oceans and shores of the globe.

Garbage galore

Jordan noticed large granite boulders used in making their breakwaters and realized that the geological formation of these islands is only coral, begging the question, where did these rocks come from? The response to his enquiry is that they were all barged in from India, far away to the northeast.

From India to Maldives

The lazy day ended with the uneventful return to serene Uligan.

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