It’s hard to remember that the world is still out there. Since this extended period of lock down and limitations I had forgotten just what it’s like to travel.
A large proportion of my pre-covid life was spent traveling. I took for granted the trek to the airport, checking in, waiting for bags and standing endlessly in lines for immigration, all things I moaned about previously.
But after an absence of nearly 2 years, the opportunity to get out of Dubai to one of the very few destinations allowed was just too much to resist. The bubble had to be burst, and I needed to see firsthand what post covid travel looked like. So it was with trepidation and excitement that we finally got on a plane.
On arrival at the airport I expected vast expanses of eerie emptiness, the odd hi-viz jacket wandering around. so when I pulled up curbside in the taxi, and had to wait for a parking space to unload I was a bit shocked to be honest. The desolate airport I was expecting was in fact pretty busy, police directing traffic, porters loading bulging cases onto trolleys, loved ones bidding farewell! Where was everyone going?
Inside, my expectation of breezing up to Check-in unhindered was quickly shattered. Queues of masked travelers stood waiting eagerly waiting for that elusive boarding pass. Though the developed technology of self-check in was evident.
To be honest it was business as usual, and on board with the exception of our beloved Emirates Hosties having their trademark beige and red uniform draped with a swathe of diaphanous protection and face masks it was all pretty standard.
So the world is still turning out there, we just need a bit longer to get back on the carousel as it were.
We chose the Maldives as it was on our Green list. We had been there a few years ago to The one & Only Reethi Rah, which was absolutely exceptional. I couldn’t wait to get back. We had never done the sea plane though so that was a new dimension. A bit hairy for those who prefer the hulk of an A380 between you and the ground! The Westin was a great choice and the usual high standards of service and food, it’s just a great brand all round I think. The hotel was 30% full so really quiet and quite peaceful and the restaurants opened on alternate nights which is understandable.
The Maldives as always was beautiful, with the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. As an extensive traveller it remains in my top 5 places in the world, it’s unreal and if you have never been you must.
My favourite Pastime
On arrival the first thing I want to do is snorkel. I’m far from sporty, and am usually the onlooker, towel holder, orange slicer in all things athletic. But snorkeling is amazing. Truly another world and so vast. There’s nothing like swimming to the edge of a reef where the water changes from pale turquoise to deep inky blue and goes on forever. Not knowing what’s lurking in the depths is both terrifying and exhilarating and I love it.
But I spent lockdown watching the horrors of climate change and pollution on Netflix. What I saw wasn’t lost on me. The degradation of the coral reminded me that COVID isn’t the only disaster still unfolding out there. Even since I last visited, I felt the vibrance had dimmed significantly. The coral looked grey and decimated and it made me hugely emotional. And whilst we swam with reef sharks, Manta rays and gorgeous turtles, the profusion of colourful fish were in short supply. Not sure if that is the same everywhere in the Maldives but it made me super aware of the damage we are doing.
It was, nevertheless a privilege to spend some time on the white sandy beaches. It brought home to me also just how happy the staff were to see us. The experience reminded me of how many staff members had probably been shipped home due to the lack of business. The economic impact of that on the families of these wonderful people must be awful.
The break from the daily covid figures was a welcome relief. I will never take it for granted again.
I share these photos then not to make you burn with envy – your time will come. But to remind us all that the wonderful world we took for granted is still there. As soon as we get the first chance, we should brave those airports and get the hell out into it.