0620hrs, we were sat downstairs in the lobby waiting for our taxi to the airport. Before we could leave the hotel had to check our room for damage and make sure we hadn't pinched the towels. I mean do we look like the type of people who pinch towels?????
Besides, if they'd looked closely at the Sturdy one they would have seen there was no room for stolen goods.,
Once they were happy the room was all in order, we were allowed to load up into the taxi. The roads were quiet so the trip was made in under an hour.
Sri Lanka airport is chilled out and calm, and no sense of chaos at all. We wrapped the sturdy one in plastic again and located the help desk. A lovely boy was assigned to us and he did a top job wheeling us past the people waiting to check in. He was just going off his night shift and looking forward to bed. He deposited us at our departure gate and said that someone would be back to load us onto the plane.
We had a few hours to kill, which went surprisingly quickly and aided by some very nice tea. The flight was delayed by half hour initially but by the time we took off it was well over an hour. Fly Dubai is our transport this time. Very clean plane and lovely staff. We were upgraded to more leg room for free which meant we didn't have to squeeze past everyone to get where we needed to go. A nice little snack was presented not long after takeoff, and my good intentions of sewing went out the window because by the time the food was served eaten and cleared away, we were not far off landing in Male Airport.
Brilliant sunshine greeted us, and when we exited the plane it was super toasty warm. The special assistance guy, Mohamed was awesome and we were quickly through security and collecting Mildred and the Sturdy one. Prior to leaving Sri Lanka I'd checked online to confirm we didn't need visas and read that they are issued at the airport. What I didn't see was the bit about disembarking forms, which I should have filled in on line. The security and customs guys were really helpful and did it all for me on their phones. I just need to do one each for us when we leave 24 hours before hand.
All done our man Mohamed wheeled us out to the exit, kindly stopping at information to get details of a Ferry for us to our Island of Himmafushi. He rang the Molar Wave Hotel where we are staying for all the info we needed. I had tried to contact them over the last few days but hadn't had a response. I was pleased that our booking for the week was good having had it confirmed by Mohamed. Our instructions received, we continued out of the airport to find the skies black as night and it persisting down with rain. Thinking it might ease off in a few minutes we sheltered in the airport entrance, and when it showed no sign of doing so had to make an Executive decision. Two options, we could take a water taxi or a wheeled taxi, and considering the fact is was still raining hard we crossed water taxi off the list. It was a good move, it started to rain harder and we could barely see a hand in front of us. The beautiful turquoise water darkening to airforce blue from the reflection of the gloomy skies.
A few taxi drivers wouldn't take us, and we had to wait for a bigger one to come along. With our directions clasped in our sweaty mitts, we headed off the island the airport is on to the main Island of Male. Our boat was leaving from jetty one which was by the produce market, but the taxi dropped us off by the speedboats which was the wrong place. Insert an eye roll of epic proportions here.
Toddling off down the jetty we located the ferry and produce market. I'm not sure what I expected, but the boat that was moored on the jetty wasn't it. It was a hive of activity men working together and loading it up with fresh food supplies, dried goods, mopeds gasoline and now a wheelchair... the back end where the goods were stacked was sitting a lot lower in the water. The rain made the deck a bit slippery, and the men were using a plank of wood to get on and off the boat.
To our relief they produced a set of wooden steps although there was still a substantial way down to it. We'd been travelling for a few hours, so I was a bit uncomfortable and couldn't feel my leg. Said leg promptly gave out as I stepped forward and I ended up on my arse, in a dirty oily puddle on the dock. The poor men on the boat, their faces were a picture! As you may have guessed I started to cackle like a hyena they looked mightily relieved. It was easier to get on the boat from my place in the puddle anyway and once I was on and deposited in a seat the rest of our belongings and Si were helped on.
As I said the ferry was transporting food and supplies to the Island, and also people. Also on board were 3 scooters, which made us giggle somewhat! I don't know why it amused us so much, but it did. The boat was all loaded and the engine revved up as pulled away from the jetty. Next thing there was a lot of shouting, and the thingy that stops the boat bashing against other boats was caught on the boat next to us and as our ferry was moving off it catapulted the thingy into the harbour, closely followed by another one. The feeey performed a rather spectacular three point turn and then parked up in the space it had just vacated. There was a lengthy discussion between the men about how they were going to retrieve their lost items. (I think) and then a few minutes later, both boat bumper things were thrown inside by their rescuers. We reversed out of the space and were once more on our way. The diesel fumes were quite strong and the weather made the sea a bit choppy so we were swaying about in all directions. On a particularly large wave Mildred fell over and there she remained until our destination. There were quite a few yachts anchored out at sea, the one had a helicopter pad on the front and a smaller boat that came out of the yacht on an arm. It was swanky , but dead ugly. The others were slightly more attractive, but I wouldn't give you tuppence for them.
The water changed to a lovely turquoise colour, I took that to mean that I could probably touch the bottom, and some of my anxiety lifted! Then I wondered about sharks and it returned! Insert a face palm here. While the rain was still driving down, the boat was rocking a lot less, to my great relief and before I knew it we were halfway into our hour long journey. Si spotted some dolphins, but due to the noise of the boat, I couldn't hear what he said and by the time he'd repeated himself several times they'd gone. I'm sure we'll see more at some point. We passed by small Islands and Little houses on stilts on the sand banks. Which, even in the pouring rain looked fabulous.
The sound of the boats engine changed and we started to slow down. On our right was an Island and what looked to be warehouses. This was our stop, and home for the next week. Himmafushi.
As we pulled along side the jetty, the boat protecting things that had been thrown inside, were picked up by the crew and returned to their original positions outside and tied back on. With that done the Ferry very niftily came to a stop. Fully expecting to get off the same way we'd got on, it was a pleasant surprise when a door opened on the side of the boat, and it was level with the jetty. Outstanding! There was still a gap that I could have fallen down and got wedged in, but with the help of Si and our Hotel owner Ali that particular catastrophe was averted. Hurrah!
All of our belongings off the boat, we made our way to the hotel, which is about 150 metres from the jetty.
The three boys working there had carried our bag up for us and took us to our room. It's lovely, super modern and has all we need. They bought us a lovely fresh fruit juice which was ice cold and much appreciated and explained about the food ordering etc. They needed an hour and half notice for dinner and we arranged breakfast for 8.30. Basically we can eat whenever. There are cafes and restaurants on the Island which no doubt we will investigate over the next week. The rain returned with a vengeance and it was bouncing off the roof, so whilst waiting for our dinner we unpacked and I had a little nanna nap.
1800hrs a gentle tap on our door told us Dinner was ready so we made our way to the dining area and sat down in anticipation. What came out of the kitchen was ANOTHER feast of Epic proportions. Veg fried rice. Fish curry, salad. Herby Potatoes and tomatoes and finally a delicious looking pudding. Which turned out to be custard with caramel sauce. Oh my days !!
Being the heroes we are, we did our best to do the meal justice, but we still had to leave some because we couldn't fit it all in!
Rain still pouring we hit the sack