The best way to experience the life of an ordinary Maldivian is to travel to an inhabited island.
The best way to experience the life of an ordinary Maldivian is to travel to an inhabited island. Some of these islands are slightly more modern: with brightly painted house walls and harbour areas. There are also the quite fishing villages with lots of tree-shade, swings, and the traditional wooden holhuashi. A holhuashi is rather like an island-version of a gazebo, build with hollow wooden trunks tied together forming the large, bench-like seat, and often with a thatched roof. They are conveniently set up on beaches, often where the boats come in, and is a place where islanders wind off after a day’s work, exchanging news, telling stories, playing cards, and listening to local radio.
Fishing, agriculture, and fish related manufacturing is what most people in the islands do for work while some go away to find jobs in tourism and trading. Some islands are also good places to buy local handcrafts.
It is a typical island custom that everyone finish their work by late afternoon, take their daily showers or bath near their wells, dress the children in fresh clothes and go for a stroll in the island, visiting friends and relatives, delivering small bowls of fresh homemade curry, or taking some time to relax at the beachside, watching the late afternoon sun while the children play around at the beach.
Fishing is in the Maldivian blood. It is so entwined in the lives of Maldivians that there are celebrations when a good catch is caught, and complaints when fish is scarce at our dinner tables. Maldivian fishermen wake
up to the dawn call of island roosters, collect bait in nearby reefs and start a full day’s work at the deep blue seas, using the artful pole and line method of fishing.
To experience the satisfaction of catching and cooking your own fish, a night reef fishing trip (offered by a lot of resorts) is the way to go. Your boat leaves before the sunset to find a good spot near a reef. The boat crew will show you how to use the lines, hooks, and sinkers. You will catch enough to fill your barbecue grill in about an hour’s time.
After a good catch it is time to head to a deserted island to eat and celebrate. With over 1,190 islands and only few hundred being utilised, it is easy to find an uninhabited island anywhere in the Maldives.
While the fish you caught gets grilled to perfection over red hot ambers, make sure you take time to enjoy the experience of being alive on this untouched part of nature; the softness of sand that has not seen a human foot print for a long, long time, and the undisturbed sounds made by nature. Without a single light on the ground, the stars above come alive in abundance, while tiny lights of phosphorescence get washed up by the beachside with the wave. For a moment, it is as though you are floating among the stars.
A day-time trip to a desert island is an experience of its own. The raw, unspoilt vegetation surrounded by blinding beaches and dazzling sunbeam-lined waters are like a phantasm; everything feels imagined, and you are the only person in this beautiful universe.