When I walked along the western coast of Malé island on my first day in the country, waiting for sunset, I saw a small island just across, almost within arm's reach. I read about the island, Viligili, and was advised by several locals to visit; one of the reason, according to them, is to escape the hectic life of Malé. Two days later, I am on a dhoni ferry, on my way to Viligili. It takes just over five minutes to reach the other side. I walk past the harbour, where many fishing boats are docked, and men are trying to catch fish from the quay. When I reach a small, white beach, I decide this is a good spot to watch sunset, and I enter the town itself. It is true: Viligili is quiet, very quiet. Here, you do not have to watch out for motorbikes racing by, for cars trying to squeeze themselves through narrow streets; there is no noise coming from around you, no construction works going on.
The streets are surprisingly wide, considering there is no traffic (bar the two cars driving around blaring out election propaganda), and people rarely use the sidewalks, but walk right in the middle of those streets. There are freshly painted houses, in pink, green, or yellow, and I am not sure if that is their normal colour, or if the colour corresponds to one of the candidates of the elections. When I reach the western shore again, I find myself near a garbage dump, with people living just around the corner. Near the coastline, abandoned houses, where the wind makes loose pieces of corrugated roof emit banging sounds. There are several people out fishing here.
Around the corner, a woman is preparing fried breadfruit, and other veiled women start arriving. I have not seen so many women grouped together before here, without any male around. To my surprise, one of them offers me a drink, and a handful of freshly made breadfruit chips. I find out they are canvassing for their political party - elections are coming up. I get cardamom and clove before they have to move on. I stay at the beach for a while, seeing two fully dressed women in burquina play in the sea, before I stroll through the peaceful streets of Viligili again. Many people around, relaxing in one of the many places made for that purpose, or chatting in the streets. There are small, protected gardens everywhere in the streets: people here seem to be keen to grow flowers in not-so-perfect circumstances. When I reach the western side again, the sun has already started painting the sky orange and red. The fiery ball almost disappears in the heavy smoke emerging from Garbage island, a little more to the west. The clouds around me are coloured orange, then pink, before they slowly dissolve into a darkening sky.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Viligili Island (Maldives). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Viligili Island. Read more about this site.