Sunday, February 01, 2015

Dreaming of Maldives

Winter is starting to drag in the US. Which is why I've started dreaming of Maldives.

Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean (Sri Lanka is the closest country), Maldives is a collection of over 1,000 islands that just barely make themselves visible above the ocean. This (lack of) altitude brought Maldives into the center of global attention during the 2009 Copenhagen Summit on climate change, as then-president Mohamad Nasheed became a poster-child for the rising sea levels, which with sufficient rise could carry his island country under the waves (the story is somewhat interesting, as chronicled in the documentary "The Island President").

What makes Maldives even more famous is its development over the last 30 years into a dreamy vacation spot. You've probably seen the thatch-roofed huts over water that populate so many of the country's island resorts in any number of travel brochures and magazines. For Americans, it's a very long flight (talking over 20 hours of flight time to get to Male', the capital), and by the time you arrive, you are wondering if the journey was really worth it. But once you touch land from your water taxi or plane and decompress in your room in the middle of nowhere, you quickly forget the hassles. 

Enjoy it, because you've found a place where the temperature is 80's fahrenheit year-round, sunny with color-bursting sunsets, and relaxed without reservation. And though it's a Muslim country (read "dry" from alcohol with conservative values), the resort islands are allowed to keep to themselves as long as you keep showing up to bring the money. Which you will want to do once you've enjoyed a few lazy afternoons wading into the clear lagoons surrounding most islands, where a veritable "Finding Nemo" of colorful fish (including the easily recognized clownfish, very common in these waters) wander listlessly in the temperate and comfortable waters.

In a word, it's paradise. And it's a far cry from the frigid days and snowfall of the last month on the east coast. So I'll daydream for a few minutes before I get out the shovel again for the next snowstorm that's about to pass through.

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