27 August 2016
tranquility of the island and its people
After an hour and a half by speedboat from Malé, with a nearly flat sea and a slightly cloudy sky, we have finally arrived at Keyodhoo pier, an island on the east side of the Vaavu atoll.
Almost the whole staff af the new Guest House White Maakanaa Lodge welcomed each of us with a refr...After an hour and a half by speedboat from Malé, with a nearly flat sea and a slightly cloudy sky, we have finally arrived at Keyodhoo pier, an island on the east side of the Vaavu atoll.
Almost the whole staff af the new Guest House White Maakanaa Lodge welcomed each of us with a refreshing towel and a necklace made out of tropical flowers.
Once we loaded the suitcases on a cart, we walked to the Guest House and we began to observe and discover this island, which would have hosted us for the following fifteen days.
The same evening the friendly Fittey has offered to guide us among the island's streets, explaining everything and answering my numerous questions.
First of all, we have seen the Vaavu Keyodhoo Health Centre, which is the island's hospital, with only four beds, but it handles perfectly the first emergencies. The most severe cases are in fact sent immediately to Malè, using one of two ambulances, which are the only cars on the island.
We then moved in front of the Secretariat of the Keyodhoo Council, the townhall, a neat short blue and white building next to the school, attended today by over 150 children aged from three to sixteen.
The children start school at 6:45 AM (they are accustomed to wake up early for prayers) and finish at 1 PM, when they return home for lunch (with variations according to age). Obviously, more than six hours in a row of school activities for a child are a lot. Therefore, to make a mid-morning break for about half an hour for a snack, they go home! In fact it takes just a few minutes to walk from school to home! Such a school is so beautiful!
For two mornings I went in front of the entrance of the school, to see how the children of this island start the school day, and it has been a wonderful experience
Every morning the children arrive in front of the school gate (the older ones alone, the younger ones accompanied by their mothers) and there they quietly wait for the 6:45 bell. Females are all dressed in total white from head to toes, boys wear white shirts and blacks pants; only children who have gym class have blue and white T-shirt and black shorts. The little girls do not wear the veil, and I saw that they are all combed the same way: a braid, long or short, tied with two blue ribbons of the same color (one at the top and one at the bottom of the braid). When the bell rings they all enter the school and bring their books to class, then they go out and arrange themselves in lines divided by groups, ready for the morning prayer. Then the teachers and school operators arrive at school, and within five minutes some students in charge sing the prayer with a microphone, while all the others listen carefully.
The first morning, two 7 or 8 years old children (a boy and a girl) sang the prayer, and it was wonderful to hear their shrill little voice at the microphone singing the prayer without hesitation. The second time, I saw two older students singing the prayer.
After the prayer all the students sing the national anthem, then everybody enters their classrooms to attend the classes. This ritual lasts for ten, fifteen minutes and, as I understand it, is done every morning.
Near the harbor we saw a bar, the only one currently open on the island. It is a meeting point for friends for a chat or to play cards, where we could find soft drinks and coffee.
Nearby there is also a restaurant decorated throughout the year with bright colored lights. It is quite popular, perhaps because it features a large TV screen. In that restaurant, each evening, we saw people who were staying at another Guest House, not equipped with its own restaurant, having dinner.
We knew that Keyodhoo currently has just over 800 inhabitants, doing many different jobs just like all over the world (there are not just the fishermen), and I wondered why tourists continue to call these islands, inhabited almost exclusively by Maldivians , "the fishermen islands", as most of the inhabitants did that work.
Close enough to the sea, opposite to the port, Fittey showed us two tiny supermarkets where to buy groceries we could need and, a little farther, a fairly large building called "the house of the current", where a powerful generator produces the electricity needed to all the houses of the island.
Visited April 2016
Tranquility of the island and its people
The waste on the seabed
We continue with our story to the discovery of this small and quiet island.
In front of the Keyodhoo pier, there is a large square, and there Fittey showed us a volleyball court, a playground for children and a football field. Then he told us about a tradition of people of this island, which I th...We continue with our story to the discovery of this small and quiet island.
In front of the Keyodhoo pier, there is a large square, and there Fittey showed us a volleyball court, a playground for children and a football field. Then he told us about a tradition of people of this island, which I think is wonderful and brilliant, he really left me speechless! He told us that every day, from 16 to 18 or so, the mothers and women of the island meet in this area to play volleyball together... nor the males, nor the children, nor other people are allowed: women only. In fact, in that time frame, the volleyball court is only for women. (Other women and girls meet and play "bashi" inside the fence of the school).
And the children? Right next to the volleyball court there is the playground. Here is the ingenious solution: on the one side there are the mothers playing, on the other there are the children. They play completely safe (there are no cars!), at most a thud in the sand or in the grass.
And the fathers? On the other side of the playground there is a football field, where the males play. There is a fence for young kids, another fence for other older boys, and a real football field for the great matches. What more could you want from life? The whole family can have fun at the same time, safely, with friends, with no stress!
And in the evening, if you want, you can jog along the roads around the island. I met several women, young and old, practicing this sport.
These are not the only hobbies of the inhabitants of Keyodhoo. During the fourteen days we lived alongside with them we could see, for example, in a "Bashi" female tournament, organized by the school's teachers and played on a field with a low net in the center, which is located inside the school’s fence, next to a huge banyan tree. The rules of the game “Bashi” are interesting and exciting.
The last day of our stay in that paradise finally we saw a fishing competition which took place between three teams, one from Malé, one from Felidhoo and one Keyodhoo, if I remember correctly. There was even a TV crew from Malé. The teams, who had started at five in the morning, had returned at eleven to compare what they had caught: the team with the greater weight of fish caught would win. The team with the biggest fish would win an award as well. The biggest fish was a huge carangue that weighed about 19 kilograms.
On that occasion the girls from Keyodhoo played a beautiful dancing show with tambourines and vases.
Along the streets of the island you can see the other Guest Houses of Keyodhoo and numerous souvenir shops, but it is not easy to find them open and their opening hours do not appear anywhere ... .you must be lucky , or ask ... in the evening, if the owner or a neighbor sees you go over there and see you are interested, maybe he will call you and invite you to enter (this is what happened to me), showing modest but varied assortment of craft items or sarongs at very fair prices. The two small supermarket opposite the harbor are open in the evening, after dinner.
Finally, next to the school there is the most beautiful building of Keyodhoo: the mosque. It is brand new, gold and white, with large windows and an outdoor area with work in progress that will surely become more and more filled with plants.
The tall white minaret, with its golden decorations can be seen from far away, arriving with the dhoni from hiking. Moreover, you can hear the prayer through the loud speaker even when waiting off the island for evening fishing.
One Friday, a day of celebration for Muslims, since at the Guest House no excursions were organized, we are adequately covered us and we stepped inside the mosque to see the beauty, brightness and feel the sense of peace.
Almost in the center of the island, next to the mosque, there is the small cemetery of Keyodhoo. It is very different from the cemeteries that we see in Italy, and reflects the simplicity of these people: it is a simple lawn, covered mostly by grass, with small concrete headstones.
The streets of the island, arranged perpendicularly forming a grid, are always very tidy and clean. Each morning all the women of the island clean them, armed with brooms of various sizes and, as you pass by, you are amazed for seeing them always so clean.
Among the plants and in some corners of the island, sometimes you can see heaps of rubbish, but never on the streets. The homes along the streets sometimes look poor or untidy, but never dirty.
I would make one final point on this: When I left Italy I thought I would have found many more mosquitoes, but I was pleased to see very very few, only close to the plants and bushes at the seashore. Despite having brought with me the mosquito spray, I never needed to use it.
Visited April 2016