“You will soon tire of the Maldives, there is nothing to do there”, they told us.
“A week doing nothing in a coral atoll?? My dream!” was the reaction of many of us, so most of the Rally fleet headed for the island of Uligan, the only official entry port in the northernmost atoll of the Maldives.
The place turned out to be quite as expected: an atoll with a small village, coral, lots of fish, sunshine, wonderful!
But the real surprise, especially after the disappointment of Sri Lanka, has been the people, beginning with the 5 young officers that come aboard to politely and efficiently dispose of the entry formalities, to continue with the people ashore.
They are strictly muslim, so women stay aside and dress very conservatively (but they return big smiles if greeted), but everybody is very gentle and helpful.
A local young man has managed to get the authorisation from the agent in Male to act as their sub-agent, and kept apologising for having to charge us 20 dollars to handle our permit to stay, explaining that he has to pay a royalty to the agent in Male (who, incidentally, charges 200 dollars for the same service!).
A group of local youngsters has organised for us a trip around the nearby islands, on board of 2 fishing boats reconverted for the day, and so we had an opportunity to visit a couple of larger villages: very simple, but orderly and clean, and we were always smiled at everywhere.
This stopover has turned out being a pleasant surprise, and a most welcome opportunity to relax before heading towards the Gulf of Aden and its pirates; the atmosphere will soon become tense again!