That’s not it, but that’s basically what happened today. The sister of the house owner where I am staying, Maahu (I took her name down on my phone to be sure) insisted on giving me a tour of the island, which was very welcome. But she did suggest this at midday, when it was about 34 degrees. We covered a lot of ground, her and her sister on the moped and me and her son on bicycles. We saw all the sights, the derelict Coronation Centre which was used once and cost millions to build; the beach, where I was told to strike some poses; a lake which isn’t used for anything and a bit of a bizarre one was a well which had never been used and is now hidden in loads of foliage. I was told my mother would want a photo of me standing next to it, I couldn’t tell if my tourguide was having a laugh or not. Probably why I look so confused in the photo.
That was followed shortly by our first fruitful rowing session. Robo (not his Maldivian name, or one I’ve given him, it’s his adopted one. After Robocop…) assisted me (he’s in yellow shorts) and I had 7 keen athletes turn up. We cleaned the boats out in the sea, worked out one of them didn’t have a rigger and sorted the blades into pairs. Then three doubles and a single pushed off and rowed around for a bit, very confidently without instruction. The stability of the coastal boats is a blessing in that it gives the kids to row with confidence that they won’t capsize, even if they stand up and jump around, but it is a curse as well because it gives them a confidence that lessens the importance of technique, or tekkers to some. Their rowing tekkers needs some work, but I think that most of them are just rusty, since they haven’t rowed for about 10 months.
I’m expecting far more tomorrow and even more the day after and even more on Monday due to all the schools finishing their exams at different points. The aim is to build a core squad of 16 for the island, 8 boys and 8 girls. In the past, participation was into the hundreds, but with a maximum capacity for 13 kids at a time, and only me with no safety launch (which isn’t necessarily safe if I drive it) I fear quality would suffer for quantity’s sake. Although a high participation rate is great, what sport on the island has been struggling with is longevity and a lack of confidence to operate without external help: with any luck, a smaller group of athletes will be able to learn enough to look after themselves and have the technical confidence to sustain the sport once they are left to their own devices.
I was taken out to a restaurant for dinner by Fatheen, the bloke who came to pick me up from the airport. Very nice guy, he is the only guy I have ever met who genuinely laughs by saying “hehe”.
Tomorrow I might go for a swim and nail some more cockroaches with ma bug spray I bought, yo.