Saturday, my day of rest. Maybe too much rest. But again it was a day of great political activity, with a big surprise to top it off. I won’t keep you in suspense because the surprise is public knowledge: it is that the PPM beat the MDP, meaning that it is Abdullah Yameen instead of Mohamed Nasheed who will swear their presidential oath today. What does this mean for me? I don’t know. I’m not sure what impact the change in political trajectory might have on rowing on Addu, if any. So it’s actually pink fever instead of yellow fever, i.e. my sunburn instead of tan.
But back to my day of rest: I was escorted at considerable speed 12km by motorcycle from Hithadoo to Gan, where the airport is. I had a history lesson of the British involvement here and I saw the monument opened by the Queen. I also saw maybe one of the first infinity pools (according to me, not to anyone else), which is now pretty rancid, but you can imagine the grandeur once upon a time. Apparently we Brits had a huge impact on Addu, improving healthcare and general infrastructure. Someone I know here has previously said that leaving this island was the worst thing the British people ever did. It is nice to be appreciated!
Speaking of once upon a time, I then visited the Equator Village resort, where most of the guests were ageing Europeans who just seemed to loll around on the beach, sidling slowly from buffet to lounger and back again. What I found particularly funny was the fact that from the lowly, geriatric beach of Equator Village, you can see the bespoke huts of the Shangri-La resort, one of the most luxurious hotels on the planet. Lunch was far too expensive for my liking, especially since it cost only a bit less than the meal for five people I had had the previous day. If I’m going to be honest, halfway through my meal I thought I would be able to get away with blagging it free, as the hotel only serves an all-inclusive buffet service, but alas, it seems I have grown so tanned that I cannot be mistaken for a lowly tourist (they didn’t see my back, clearly…)
My main host for the day was a guy who worked for Addu City Council, but he forgot to tell me that he was busy. That meant my prompt arrival at 11am was about 8 hours too early for him. So, after my brief visit to Equator Visit and Gan, I met Sharu-u who gave me a slow walking tour of Fheydhoo, a place buzzing with Election Activity in the sun. We walked for ages and he picked local fruit off the trees for me to eat; he gave me a green mango,which is actually just a really unripe mango. He actually gave me two, but after about a third of the first I handed the second to him and said “Actually, you’re all right with this one, mate.” It was marginally worse than the “waterapple” which, again, he insisted should be eaten unripe. Very soon after said mangoes, I found myself sitting on a beach throwing stones at small crabs on Sharu-u’s command. Had I lost my mind with boredom? I thought maybe, but then I had the next four hours….
I watched the sunset, where there just had to have flippin’ fudgin’ clouds in the way. So by definition, once I had done that it was pretty dark. My council friend said that regretfully we had to wait until we went for dinner for the official verification of the votes, although voting had finished two hours previously and there were only 140 people who voted… So, unfed and unwatered, I sat for three hours watching Maldivian Election Afternoon, which basically involved hyped-up political pundits pointing at screens where almost equal votes for each party were appearing slowly before our very eyes. I started to watch flies in the room after a while and then I became fascinated with the election calculator. Literally every three minutes someone in the room would run to a desk, bring back a massive calculator and begin to subtract the votes for MDP from the votes for PPM to give somewhere around 7,000 each time. No matter if the numbers went up from roughly 93,000 to 94,000 and 86,000 to 87,000 respectively, it seems every vote had to be counted by the election calculator, which served as a point of reference for heated discussion in the room. A couple of hours spent like this forced me to break out the Salman Rushdie book, Midnight’s Children, which ironically to be reading on an election night in this part of the world, is about the birth of a nation. Muted pink celebrations ensued on an island which is predominantly yellow, but everyone is relieved that at last there is an elected president.
I must say, a day of rest here is perhaps too restful for my liking.