The sun was partially out after
lunch so I had to take some more photos. Overcast skies provided
convenient protection against the otherwise unhealthy sun. I rushed to the
reception to arrange for a shuttle that would take me to Gulhi Fushi. The ride didn't
even take 5 minutes, way past Naladhu to the right and Veli to the left. It was
a small island populated by 2 waiting staff: the charming Gayan and the bright-eyed Amsal.
Gulhi Fushi (“Paradise
Island”) is small you could walk around and across it in 15 minutes. There’s a
bar/restaurant, a kitchen, an ocean pool (6 feet deep) and several cabanas with
light green bean bags. There’s a white cot where the sand bag is.
tide, this sand bar turns up allowing leisurely walk to Veli, reminding me of
the islands in Rihivelli.
Gayan kept giving gifts, it was embarrassing: from apples to “magic drinks”
which he specially concocted. Later that afternoon, he’d challenge me to guess
the contents: I got 3 out of 4. Mango, lemon, passion fruit and – finally! – “bitter
lemon”. He was quite pleased I didn't get the last one. The younger
and bashful Amsal, assigned to the kitchen, didn't get it either. We laughed as
we guessed. “You’re crazy,” I had to chuckle.
|Adorable pair of Gayan and Amsal, Gulhifushi's only inhabitants.|
Before leaving the island, Gayan
offered the catch of the day, one that isn't on the menu. I ordered two because
I wanted a slice of seafood gastronomy: grouper with rice ($39) and white
snapper with rice ($39) and Gayan’s “miracle drink” ($12).
The garoupa was
heavenly: it was tender and melted in the mouth and way tastier than any fresh
catch I’ve tasted in a long time – and I am not even a fish person. Curiously,
there were a hundred flies circling our food. “It’s the bone that smells
that drives the flies in,” Gayan said.
Earlier, I asked Gayan why dogs
were prohibited all over the Maldives. “They are dirty, like pigs,” he
said. I countered, “But I know of Malaysianwho even have half a dozen dogs.
Dogs are common in Malaysia.” “Aww, they’re not all-Muslims,” he
Maldives prohibits a lot of things: alcohol, any religious propaganda,
dogs, pigs, bikinis (unless you’re on “privately-leased resort islands”, where
you follow the rules set by the resort owner).
After early supper (5PM), I hopped
back on a shuttle and went straight to the souvenir shop and got a CD. I still
had $40 left and if I don’t consume it, it doesn’t get refunded. I bought Ahmed's "Dhaalu Raa", a
Maldivian CD with vocals at $49. Turns out, the souvenir shop isn't part of the
“consumable items” so I had to pay cash for this. Even a post card here is more
expensive – a dollar a piece. It was 2 pieces for a dollar at Fihalhohi.
The artist, Ahmed Nasheed (left), spins Maldivian rhythms with a minimum of instruments: guitars, drums, sax, bass, organ and euphonium, mixing boduberu (a traditional music and dance form employing 3-4 drums and a thumping beat) and dhandi (a popular folk dance usually participated by 30 men and believed to have originated from the Minicoy Islands), with lilting sound characteristic of music from seaside villages. I was of course pleased with myself despite parting with my $49.
I settled my account then rushed
back to my speedboat for my ride back to Maafushi. Before that, I saw a manta
ray leisurely floating close to the shoreline while a heron (or crane) looks on. The fowls and fauna of these
islands are amazing. Suddenly, $178 was clearly worth every cent, including
what I wasn’t able to “consume”. I was pleased with myself.
Such a glorious and breathtaking island-so idyllic and picturesque !
Thanks, Ram. I love how it seems "deserted". Like having a private island of your own.
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