Wednesday, July 14, 2021

One Last Maldives Con Job

We needed a super late checkout today and so I went to the reception desk to inquire. They said sure but it would cost $30 an hour which would have added up to hundreds. I went full bore country lawyer on them, dug up some fine print in the Expedia Gold VIP Access Hotel rulebook, they showed it to some shadowy manager sitting in the backroom, and boom we were good for the day. We had already gone through the stages of trip ending grief last night so today felt like special bonus time.

I know we're winning the game because we're lounging in the country the travel blog people are always waving around as an aspirational destination.

I'm not sure why this invention needed inventing but the cafeteria has a machine that slices a stick of butter into little pads for you.

I think I yelled at them too harshly to give us more water. Now we're drowning over here.

We dug up the half bottle of champagne they gifted us. I was kind of dreading it because I expected it to be some junky sweet crap, but it was good.

Cannot wait to get back to Missouri.

On our long luggage laden walk from the room to the boat waiting area, we met what may be our only confirmed actual Maldivian man. He largeness was matched by his friendliness. He was the island nature guy apparently and had lots of fun facts. I'd noticed a lot of coconut shells with big holes in them and asked what the deal was: he replied it was rats. Awesome.

He had visited the US including Houston and New Orleans. I think he must have been studying agriculture of some sort because he then went on unprompted about the corn food aid that the US gave to the Soviet Union. "US people very friendly. Not like France. Opposite of France."

An unpleasant part of traveling during a years long pandemic is you have to take a covid test before you can go home. We're really playing Russian roulette with this. One of these days we're going to test positive and then all hell is going to break loose. I assume we'd be quarantined on the island?

The resort had a couple of cultural sites that we hit before departing.

They had a blue whale skeleton which I think is a first for me.

There was a little museum full of Maldivian cultural artifacts.

Coconut husks are very fibrous so it definitely makes sense to turn them into rope.

"Who is this man?
He is a toddy tapper on his way to a coconut tree.

What is a toddy tapper?
He collects juice from the coconut flower.

What does a coconut flower look like?
You can see one dried sample of a flower here on the floor.

How does he collect the juice?
He has specially made containers made from coconut shells. You can see he is carrying them on a stick across his shoulder.

What is the toddy man wearing?
A white pair of cotton shorts and a sarong which he ties up so that he can climb the tree easily.

How does he climb the tree?
When he has chosen the tree to be tapped, he fixes wooden ladder-steps on to the trunk. Now it will be easy for him to collect the toddy.


Wow indeed.

On our return trip we'd run out of fancy business class pixie dust and were forced to ride poor back to the US. This time we took Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul. This was a calculated maneuver because Turkey I don't think has closed its borders once through the entire pandemic so we were reasonably sure that we would be able to escape and return home.

When you get on a flight and look up and don't see air vents... you're sad.

We did some good lounging in Istanbul.

Unforgiven had a quote I'm going to have to work into casual conversation somehow: "Alright I’m coming out. Anybody shoots at me I’m gonna kill him. And I’ll kill his wife and his friends and I’ll burn his damn house down."

Flights around the planet are great if you're the type of person who likes to sit and watch twelve movies in a row. This was Murder on the Orient Express.

New York must have finally had enough LaGuardia Airport jokes and decided to fix that dump.

There was a really cool musical water fountain show thing.

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