Tomorrow I leave for the Maldives. I'll be staying in the capital city, Male', for a week to interview Maldivians and learn as much as I can about the country, the culture, the people, and their plans for the future. I've been debating whether to go for a few months. On the one hand, the carbon emissions. On the other hand, the experience of going enriching my writing about the place and meeting the people I'll be writing about and the challenge of meeting and interviewing people from here. I've been told that once you're there, meeting people is easy. That Maldivians are friendly folks and as it's a small town, I shouldn't have any trouble finding my way to the right people.
Last week, I decided to go. I bought a ticket and booked a hotel. I have one contact there and I'm not sure what to expect from that. The night before I bought a ticket, the cabinet resigned. I'm not sure what the political situation is exactly as it's hard to find good news coverage. I'm excited and nervous. It seems like an incredible place, so different from every other place I've known. Male' is 1sq mile. It's a tiny dot that you have to zoom in on quite a bit before it even appears in the midst of the blue Indian Ocean. It will be my first visit to a Muslim country. I'm interested to hear the call to prayer 5 times a day. Because I booked on short notice, I haven't had time to get the recommended vaccines. Luckily, there's a clinic at the airport. Unluckily, I'll only be getting a jab for Hep A. No Typhoid vaccination for me because it's not 10 days prior to my departure. That means I have to be very careful about what I eat and drink--or maybe I doesn't mean that in the capital city, but I am not sure what to expect. I hope to visit the museums and learn about the history of the islands, how they were settled, the archeological studies, the people, the culture. I'm curious to know attitudes and opinions about climate change. If knowing about sea-level rise affects the way people think about their futures. I want to know if people have noticed any changes. I want to know how the government dispenses information around it's nearly 1200 islands or at least the 200 inhabited ones. What are their evacuation plans? What about the 2006 Boxing Day tsunami? How did they manage that? I have so many questions and I can't wait to find out the answers. I hope this experience will be incredible and that I will meet wonderful people who are willing to share with me.