Our last week.
We’ve had an awesome month here with the MWSRP team. This week feels a little like the end of school, with our group slowly shrinking. Ben and Rach left us on Tuesday to return to the UK. Alissa and Neal have been in Male on business for the past four days (but returned last night) and so it’s been a small group.
This however, has not impacted our knock-out record of spotting at least one WS every day when we have been out on the reef! 100% Success! Today, on our last day on the reef, we had three encounters! Meaning we have had a total of 62 WS encounters!
The events of each day have been pretty similar as the one before it. However, the weather has been noticeably moody with heavy rains and rough seas one moment and then calm waters and scorching heat the next.
Also, dragonflies have started to appear. In week one, Neal and Alissa mentioned that dragonflies are a sign that the monsoons are changing as they migrate from the Himalayas. So I was quite amused when I started seeing more then one dragonfly buzz around.
I was also told that another indication that the winds are trying to change is that manta rays start appearing. This is something that we’ve been hoping for.
And so, luckily for us, every day this week we’ve been seeing mantas and we’ve stopped the boat to get in to swim with them. They are fast swimmers with such little effort. Mysterious. They are ‘the Batman of the sea’ in my mind. They appear out of the cloud of plankton and then quickly disappear with the flap of their wings.
Spotting my first whale shark
Ok, so in our first week Katie, Chris, Kev and I unanimously spotted Woody who was swimming right next to the boat. After that, the spots have been made by either Katie, Neal or Rach .
However, on Monday I was able to spot two WS! For the first spot I saw this clear outline of a WS swimming next to the boat and just automatically shouted
However, as soon as I shouted it, I realised that it was the same WS that we had seen a few minutes earlier.
Then, about 20 minutes later, while I gazed over the water onto the reef bear the shoreline I saw this big dark shadow and a difference in the texture of the water. I just watched it and bumbled to Ben
Uh… Is that a….?
Ben walked over and took a look saying that he liked what I was seeing. But then started thinking it was a coral block. I was adamant that it wasn’t quite a coral block as I swear my eyes saw it move. We both continued to look at it until a wave rippled over it to reveal the WS and Ben shouted
oh yea it’s a whale shark!
I shrieked in excitement, fist punching the air and jumped up and down in happiness! It’s taken almost a whole month for me to finally figure out how to spot them! The name of the WS was Lucky. How appropriate.
After the encounter, Chris told me that I had scared him a little with my jumping as we were standing on the roof of the wooden Dhoni which has a termite problem. Haha… Eeeeep!
Tuna, tuna and more tuna
Well, the only positive that I can see from leaving the Maldives is saying goodbye to the tuna filled dishes. Not that the food is not amazing (sorry for the double negative) it’s just that having the same awesome food for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, short eats and dinner is quite tiring on the mind and stomach. Though I cannot praise enough the creativity and ingenuity of the chefs here. Amazingly, they find different ways to cook tuna but on bad days, finding surprise tuna in your dish is a little disheartening. Fernando expresses the frustration enough for all of us. Which most of the time, is quite satisfying seeing another person struggling too. I’m sure that in less than a week of leaving the Maldives, I’ll be missing that tuna.
It’s typical that when you have only a few more days left in a place, everything starts falling into place. Not only am I now even more eager to try and spot a WS, I am also eager to pick up more and more Dhivehi. I’ve started talking to Amean, our boatman, asking him how is he, and if he thinks the day will be good. It’s so much fun and I love that smile in the eyes of everyone who I try to speak Dhivehi to.
Words I’ve been working on:
How are you? – Keeneh
Good – Badabada
Bad – Sakuda
Fat – Bodoh (Amean taught me this word)
Stomach – Bundung (another word from Amean. He actually taught me these words while describing a man on another boat. Bodoh bundung! hahha!
Dive down – Ah dih
Today – Mare du
Sight/see – Belani
Sandwich – Baanana
Sooooo with these words, I start making up sentences such as
Amean! Mare du belani how much whale shark?
Mare du badabada or Sakuda?
He humours me and gives me more tips. I love how we both have broken languages and we still can communicate. The other hand, Dude, (no one knows his name yet) he’s beginning to open up too! And yes, he has begun to respond to the name Dude! 😀
Now, we are waiting for dinner and for drinks at Manta Bar where we are able to get $2.50 mixers – for example cranberry and vodka. However, the bar tenders tend to put two double shots in the drinks…. oh yea!