I originally turned down the offer to teach kiteboarding in Maldives, as the contract was a one year contract, and the return date would land me back in South Africa during the off season. During this time, there would be no opportunities to give lessons, and as such, would leave me without employment. When the Maldives centre agreed to let me come over for 6 months, Nicole and I discussed the options, and decided it was something that should be checked out. I have to again emphasize that all the decisions and steps we took up to this moment, were discussed and agreed as a couple, and I am so grateful that Nicole was supportive in every way.
So on 21 June 2012, I boarded a plane and started the trip that started it all. The plan was to check it out, gain some more experience, and see where it could take us.
From door to door, it took a long and tiring 60 hours to reach my destination, including 18 hours layover in Doha, the old airport, not the new and impressive structure which stands there today. The international airport in Malé, Maldives, was also under construction, which it still is today. No matter how much time passes, they always seem to be working on something. You could hardly call it a terminal, there was a small snack shop and a pharmacy. These have now been replaced with Burger King and The Coffee Club, with a small souvenir shop and baggage storage. In those days, you left your bags where you could find space, even for long periods of time, without any risk of theft. You could probably still do that.
So, reluctantly, I left my bags at the airport, and was given a dollar and instructions on how to take the ferry to the capital island. There I was picked up by scooter and transported through a hectic, bustling city along with thousands of other scooters, to complete my required medical. Once this was finalised, I was asked to hand over my passport, with promise that I would receive it back after a few weeks once the visa was confirmed. Through my mind is now racing all kinds of thoughts, I’ve been scammed, I will never see my passport again, my bags have probably been stolen. Again I was handed the standard dollar, and put on a ferry back to the airport island. There they were, bags safe and sound, and an airport official assured me that handing over a passport for visas was normal practise.
All good, now one more flight, via seaplane, and I would be on my island. All staff fly on stand-by basis, as the Twin Otters only transport around 14 persons per flight, and guests take preference. Through the next 8 hours, my flight number changed many times, and my name was called often to receive information regarding my departure times. This meant that catching up on sleep was out of the question. Finally my flight was confirmed and I boarded in the late afternoon.
The flight itself is a beautiful experience, and many tourists to the Maldives will reach their chosen resorts by this method. The colours are amazing as water depths offer a range of deep blue to turquoise, surrounding the developed and uninhabited islands. The sun was setting which provided an extra special feel to arriving on my resort island, Kuredu.
I had arrived.