9 February 2010

Uligan island in Maldives

In the most northern atoll of the Maldives in front of Uligan island we've dropped the anchor. February, 1st around 9 a.m. a motorboat with six officials is approaching and when all are aboard 'Alexandra' we can do customs, immigration and quarantine at the same time. Ship's papers and crew lists are asked in 4 to 6 copy and preferable provided with ship's stamp and signature of master. But everybody is very helpful, so within half an hour we are officially welcomed in the Republic of the Maldives.

Next to the boat the reef begins and the snorkeling is excellent with good coral and heaps of fish that are nog shy at all. In the morning we see the tips of a manta ray that is swimming on the reef. Next minute we are in the water and the manta ray is passing several times really very close, what a majestic and graceful sight!

Uligan village looks a bit dull with sandy roads and high walls around the courts next to the houses. There are no cars, but we see a lot of shiny motorbikes. A small harbour with breakwater is under construction and we can moor our dinghy on the sturdy cay that is finished already. Alongside one of the sandy roads is 'the office' and here we can ask and arrange everything we want. Opposite the office they have a plastic garden table and chairs where we can use internet for free and fill in papers for departure etc. It's a meeting place for the yachties and for the local guys who have a great service to bring new diesel on board the yachts. The Maldives are an Islamic country and the women wear head scarfs, also the girls leaving the school are dressed in white trousers, white skirts, white blouses long sleeved and white head scarfs.

During our stay we make a trip with the local motorboat to two other islands in the atoll where we visit a school, the local boat builders and have a lunch in a small and cosy restaurant. On one of the beautiful beaches of Uligan we have a potluck dinner: the boys have fish, chicken and beef on the rack over the wood fire and the yachties have prepared a dish from their own country: pasta, salads, pancakes and chocolate cookies.

Slideshow Maldives http://picasaweb.google.com/pc8096/Maldives?feat=directlink