I don’t have Yellow Fever, but my stomach is playing up a bit, so I passed on the Fish curry and stuck to the plain rice and tea. Who does have yellow fever is probably more than 45% of the island. Again, they don’t literally have Yellow Fever, because there is none here, but they do support Nasheed and the yellow MDP for the elections today. During my stay so far you can’t go without 5 minutes outside without either hearing election songs (think Eurovision minus sex appeal…) or walking past someone’s handpainted house which they’ve allowed to be turned into a party house (again, not literally: no booze allowed). Today, everywhere I went was yellow. People were handing out Nasheed stickers and during the rowing session I had to strain my voice over the hordes of motorcycles and cheering women commencing the final MDP political rally on Hithadoo. The MDP is more popular amongst women as it seeks to move away from past practices and move towards a more egalitarian state.
Nasheed was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives back in 2008 but was ousted in a coup about 18 months ago. There were elections held on September 11th where his party received 45% of the vote, prompting second round to determine the majority. However the Supreme Court cancelled those. Sucks for Nasheed. However, tomorrow he has the chance to reclaim power in a much-anticipated rerun. Speaking to people I’ve encountered over the past two weeks, the consensus is that the MDP are the only party who don’t have to try to force people to vote for them, compared to the other runners, made up of the ex-dictator’s family, some more religious candidates and others. Theory is that they spent a lot of their money investing in their campaigns in the first round and they didn’t have much left for the second. Many reckon the result’s a dead cert…. Let’s see.
Yesterday morning I was woken up by a phonecall from Roba. “Hi James.” “Eurghhrhdhg hi?”, “Are you ready, I’m outside.” “For what?” “Coffee.” What the flip, I hadn’t agreed to coffee. It wasn’t a rouse; he just wanted to get a coffee. He took me to the only restaurant on the island which is open on Friday mornings, the rest being shut for the religious day of rest. I had my usual meager cup of “Milk Coffee” which when said quickly sounds like “-ilkcoffee” which also sounds like “blickcoffee” which has led to some misunderstandings. Although a “Milk Coffee” is actually just some hot water with some instant milk powder in it, presented with some undissolved instant coffee on top. I hear ya Luigi, it’s no Lavazza.
Then Roba took me on another magical mystery tour, this time to the end of Hithadoo, which is apparently great for snorkeling and spearfishing. Again, despite the incredible natural beauty, it is so disappointing to see ream upon ream of litter lining the banks of lagoons and paths here. Humph. Another issue, another day. First things first is getting people rowing! More talks were had over lunch about the future of the project. It is evident that the most important thing is getting people over here to help. If you know anyone who wants to help, let me know! You won’t regret it.