Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Losing paradise

First of all I would like to share with you my observations from my last two trips to the maldives. Those of you who know me know well enough that I love the place and return there at least once a year. Many people say to me that I may as well before the islands sink beneath the waves due to catastrophic man made global warming.
My usual reply is "bollocks, the Maldives is not sinking beneath the waves, it may well be washing away but it is not sinking as sea levels rise" You see Catastrophic man made global warming is a billion dollar industry that will not go away for a long time to come. That however is for another post.
Last year I revisited the same island I had been to the year before and was shocked to see how much of it had literally washed away.
On one side of the island there is a sea wall made of concrete filled sand bags protecting one end of the island from the worst effects of the sea but this has simply been battered by the sea in such a harsh manner that huge gaping gaps have appeared and the sea is reclaiming what is rightfully it’s own. As the sea breaks over the wall it washes back much of the sand through any gaps it can find and the islanders are fighting a constant battle to try to stop it from washing away all together. 

 Nearly every day a boat arrives stacked high with sand bags which have been filled with coarse sand from a neighbouring island.
It is amazing that these heavily laden boats don’t sink they float that low in the water.
the boats are then unloaded by hand and each bag is emptied onto the beach where the worst of the erosion is taking place.
Garden workers from Bangladesh keep the island tidy and work from dawn till dusk in temperatures of 30 degrees plus in dark green uniforms. Their day will start by collecting all the fallen leaves and debris that has washed ashore in the night. Then they will spend hours filling sand bags with fine sand from other parts of the island so that it can be transported to the areas which are suffering the most erosion.
Then back to more sweeping of leaves and tending to plants. 

On average the workers will earn between $100.00 and $120.00 a month with four days off on a three year contract, they do this with a constant smile and a very pleasant attitude.Every morning when I walked out onto my terrace at around 07.30 hrs one of these guys would come running across the beach to sweep up the leaves in front of my villa and wipe down the sun loungers. Despite speaking very little English we did become good friends very quickly. One afternoon on his second trip of sweeping up leaves I offered him a glass of cold water, he very quickly looked around then took the glass, gulped it down and gave it back to me. He said in his very broken English that he had worked on the island for one year and eight months and that I was the first person to ever offer him a drink and that I was a good man. I gave him a few dollars every morning and had a brief chat with him. Despite the working conditions he always smiled and waved at me whenever he saw me.  
 I will be visiting the maldives again in around a month and look forward to the friendly welcome from the indigenous people and relaxing in what I consider to be the last paradise on earth.

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