Maldives 20050129

All good things come to an end. An early morning downpour soaks the drying t-shirts and bathing costumes on the line. We said our goodbyes to Jeeza, our waitress, and give her a tip. We also get our photograph taken with her. Packing takes longer than I expected, but we actually leave with less than we arrived with (due to the tsunami donations).

After a light early lunch, we say goodbye to Lutz and Anna. The skies have cleared, and has turned out to be a beautiful day. We settle our bill at Sangu reception, and see Andrew and Mel at the main reception. We have our last complimentary drink, the same we have been drinking all week: grapefruit juice for me, pineapple juice for Madame Oui. Andrew and Mel follow us out to the seaplane for a final farewell, and they stay to take a photograph of our seaplane when we’re in the air.

Just like our arrival to Kuredu, the Italian family accompany us on the seaplane journey to Male, and onwards to Dubai. We somehow go through Male check-in without paying the mandatory $10.

On the flight to Dubai, we befriend a chirpy steward named Regis. He told us that he usually works in the First Class section, but volunteered to work the Economy section, and that he would be giving us First Class service. I asked if port was available. Reg said yes, but then realised that it was for First Class only. When he said that he would see what he could do, Madame Oui added that it was our honeymoon. He got excited about this, and came back with two tall glasses of port and more conversation. We learnt that he was from South Africa, whereupon I showed him that I was reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (“great book”, Reg said). His parents are French, but he doesn’t speak the language, but does speak Afrikaans, Zulu and Swahili. Later, he came back again to get our surnames, “for my records”. I thought that strange, but wasn’t going to complain.

It was a long layover in Dubai. We aren’t that impressed with the airport. Perhaps it’s because we only ever saw it in darkness, but it’s just one very long strip of gates. The duty free shopping isn’t that great to write home about. For example, there wasn’t a good range of CDs to buy, as I was looking for Sultana and Zero Degree, two Maldivian bands.

But our wait was worth it, as when we checked in, our Economy seats were upgraded to Business Class. Reg obviously made a note in the flight reservation system to request an free upgrade for us. Although I thought it might have been short-lived, as the Business Class seats we had just got into were demanded by a family of three. The head stewardess kindly asked us to get up and wait for a moment. As luck would have it, she then promoted us into the First Class section, in two of only twelve such seats on the plane. What an upgrade! When I went to thank the stewardess at the end of the flight, for making the end of our honeymoon so special, she said that it was only Business Class service in the First Class section for this flight, but I said that I was so pleased with the ability to get a decent night’s sleep. There was so much space around you, and you can get the seats to go nearly completely horizontal. You are provided with good toiletry bags, to boot.

The bump back to reality was our Easyjet flight back to Belfast. Easyjet have a policy of allowing only 20 kgms per person of checked in luggage. Fine for a weekend or even week away, but a challenge for a two-week long haul connection destination. I managed to get our two bags just 1-2 kgms over the limit, and the women who checked us in noticed that the bags had came through Dubai and didn’t charge us excess luggage. I’m glad I purposely kept the Emirates tags on the bags. On board the plane, the seat in front of me hit my knees. Why was this seat so close to me? I had gotten used to the having a complete row in front of me being clear.

We knew we were truly back home when we approach a taxi, and Madame Oui and the driver know each other, from when Madame Oui was a child. For much of the journey, they catch up with each other.

Home, the house is freezing cold, and it’s 20-30 de

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