In the last few days, a number of opportunities have presented themselves, and I have taken them. I wouldn’t normally have done so, but I’ve thrown caution to the wind, and the results have been pretty good.
The first case came about while I was at rowing. I got a call. I don’t normally take calls while I’m coaching, but this time I did. “James, do you want to go fishing”. When? “In an hour and a half.” What, when it’s dark? “Yeah it’s night fishing”. I’ve never been fishing, and this way, I wouldn’t have my experience marred by getting sunburnt and bearing the cross of being called “Plucked Chicken” for the next week by the kids. So I obliged and turned up on time.
I was fishing with two locals who are absolutely nuts about the hobby (most people are, but these guys can’t sleep without killing a fish) and an Australian guy who is a part of another volunteer project on the island. He had never fished before either, so the playing field was pretty level. We left at 5.30, about an hour before sunset and on our way to our spot on the reef about 10 kilometers away we saw several shoals of dolphins which were quite impressive, but I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by emotion, they are just dolphins. They have a pretty rough time of it, I reckon, they never actually go to sleep, half of their brain just shuts down for about 8 hours, maybe if they just chanced it and fell asleep on the surface for a couple of hours that would do the job. And we’ve all heard the rumours about their sexual habits.
Once we set the anchor down we were given instructions. As this was reef fishing, it was just a line and no rod, and the line had to hover just above the bottom of the reef, so about 30m down. I sat for about 3 hours and caught nothing, whilst my Australian counterpart was getting his line nibbled on relatively often, but his attempts at reeling in were futile. I had to relieve myself off the side of the boat and while I was doing so, he caught this big flip-off rainbow runner to put beyond any doubt who was wearing the trousers. Very shortly after he caught another big fish and I began to lose hope. I claimed that I was there to help sustain the fish population by feeding them, I wasn’t sure how that went down. Nevertheless, I managed to catch two fish, but I was horrified to see that as they were quite small, our Maldivian fishermen just threw them straight back into the sea, while keeping the Ozzie’s. After five hours and two measly fish, I’m not banking on heading to National Geographic quite yet. We took them to a restaurant 20 feet from the shore and they cooked them for us, so again, eat your heart out Kerry Katona.
Then yesterday I played one of my favourite games: tourist-stalk. What you do is whenever you see some tourists who have cycled all the way from the hotel, you cycle as close behind them without them noticing you. Once I had lost, I announced myself and it turns out they were from Hungary, where I have family myself. The two sons, 22 and 23 were keen on snorkeling and tanning and the parents were pretty game too. So I acted as local tour-guide and got a free meal out of it at the end. I obviously got my political incorrectness quota for the day in, as when they asked me what a Hungarian speaking English sounded like, I responded with “Borat”. But I absolutely love the Hungarian sense of humour, and they came right back at me, so s’all good.
I just had to get a haircut so following the tourists, I went to my favourite “Men’s saloon”, which costs about £1.50 for a haircut. My hairdresser was this Bangladeshi bloke who refused to take out his earphones even though he wasn’t listening to any music. After he seemed to have finished my hair, he refused to let me pay and beckoned me into a side room. He also tried to give me a mullet which I wasn’t going to allow. He sat me down in a chair and stared at me in the mirror for a bit. This dragged on and just when I was about to ask what he was doing, he started frantically smacking my back: apparently he also does massages. I was so surprised by the whole thing that when he asked me to do a selfie with him I don’t think I really held my face in the way you normally would do for a photo. Judge for yourself.