Sunday, February 08, 2009

Maldives


The Maldives is a Muslim country which tries very hard to isolate the people living on the outer atolls from the tourists. When we checked in with customs and immigration, we received a list of rules, including: no local person is allowed to come on our boat. Don’t give ANYTHING to a local person (including gifts and especially alcohol). And the one that really surprised us…Don’t do any business with locals.
At first we thought this was a little harsh but then when we thought about it we realized that when we arrived in Uligamu, Maldives just after noon, the first thing we did was have a beer to celebrate another successful passage. Then we had a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich for lunch. Of course Muslims are not suppose to drink alcohol or eat pork. Maybe a group of boaters having a beach party might be a bad influence. Given the Maldives the government has increased the permits for tourist resort developments in the central atolls, this isolation strategy can not last long.
The islands that make up the atolls are picturesque low lying sand islands with palm trees. The crystal clear warm water encouraged us to do some snorkeling. W found many colorful fish, but the coral formations were not very interesting. One day off the back of the boat we took the opportunity to swim with a Manta Ray that was feeding in the atoll.

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