So it’s a few days since my stay in the Maldives started and you won’t believe what lessons I have learned already. I could as well leave them out but being an African, female traveler in an inter-racial relationship, I can’t just ignore!
Well, not in the bad way, but I mean… While other tourists were having an easy go onto the islands at immigration, I had to be scrutinized by a lot of people. It was like some examination or some struggle at the Olympics. I don’t understand. My boyfriend thinks it’s because I am from Africa. That it’s why they had to take me through all this. Not that I exactly want to disagree with him. I mean, I was the only African on that Emirates plane from Dubai to the Maldives (I mean, the only dark-skinned person from Africa as far as I am concerned) and I had to spend most of the time sleeping. Wondering whether it was one of the Alien movie experiences I was having. First, my plane had to land at Dubai 5.5 hours before my next flight. And I had to seat at an empty waiting area and later having only white companions. Not the bad way, but I mean strange right? And of-course my passport has to be scrutinized more, my yellow fever card, invitation letter, I mean what the heck just because I am not the regular tourist? It still makes me think that some people are more privileged than others basing on the complexion. ( note: Don’t exaggerate this and start victimizing. I am just putting my thoughts out there).
I AM DARK SKINNED
Ha-ha! Don’t laugh at this. I am this not so dark skinned person but my travels and mingling had to prove me otherwise. So we were catching drinks with my boyfriend’s buddies when I decided to take pictures. The flash failed, and I was too confused to even fix the settings, but you won’t believe how invisible I was when a picture was taken. I was a silhouette! As if this was not enough, we went to a tourist beach during the day, and still, my picture turned out as a silhouette!!! I mean, it ’s day for Christ’s sake, how dark can someone be?!!! How about we got a couple more Africans darker than me? And I am not taking any more pictures at night. Otherwise, the lighting better – be -good. LOL
Um. Don’t mention it! I wanted to leave this out because alcohol is mostly illegal in the Maldives, but in some places, it’s allowed. So we were having a night out on this ship everyone having a beer and then whiskey. The punches were the problem. Last time I got drunk was at a house party in freshman year. We broke up with my boyfriend at the time the next day. Not because I had got drunk, but because of how we both hurt each other switching partners after these punches. That was when I vowed I would never get drunk again. Until this night on a ship! The soda punches with whiskey… At least helped me come to a conclusion that as far as I was concerned, cocktails, beer, and red wine is the furthest I can go. The other drinks might as well be banned. I don’t care! Who on earth gets drunk on two bottles of bear? Me. I don’t drink anymore. Ha-ha!
Well, this is not exactly strange since I know about Muzungu prices all over Africa, but how it happens in the Maldives is what makes it VERY STRANGE. At a point A when we are given options of the drinks to choose from, they are all the same price. Until we choose! The one we choose costs 20 Dollars more! because, we obviously, are foreigners and the Maldivians can read it off our nostrils.
HE CALLS MY BRAIDS RASTA HAIR.
Ha-ha… Now this one killed me. It’s been now a year since I decided to go completely natural and African. Previously, I could do a weave and have no problem until I attended an African Philosophical Thought class. Then my discomforts arouse with these weaves, questioning endlessly why I had to put those things on my head. So I opted for braids because they make me feel more elegant, confident, beautiful, and I never question my identity or have cultural appropriation issues while with braids. Until one of the pilots we were out with said to me ‘I love your Rasta hair!”. What? Not strange? I said thank you and later burst out laughing without anyone understanding why. My Rasta hair!!! I grew up in Uganda knowing Rasta hair as dreadlocks you know? But some people have been associating me with Rasta ever since I got here. I guess I should start introducing myself as maybe, Rastafarian. Because my mind has just failed to process this! (It’s a question of Stereotypes?)
STRANGE GAZES FROM STRANGE MEN. SUSPICIOUS!
Yes, I am used to turning a good number of heads when I walk into a place sometimes but this is definitely stranger and scarier. Before I moved to the Maldives, my boyfriend told me about Mussulman. And I thought that must be some Arabian king like the Sultans or something, only to discover it’s a religion/tradition/culture, name it. So I am confused. The way these people look at me, it makes me question myself. I knew the tradition was Islamic when I did my packing, so my clothes are rather long, and comfortable and mostly bohemian. I don’t want to make the locals uncomfortable especially in a society where too much skin or mini dresses are obviously frowned upon. Long clothes are not my problem. So the fault here is not that I am showing too much skin. Then what? I am still looking for the answers!!! Is it just my looks, the braids, or what?
WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?
I don’t know! But I meet very few on the streets (Especially in Hulhumale). This is not like Kampala where women walk around doing stuff and etc. I meet only men doing the work, a few women, fully covered and riding motorbikes, and I don’t know where the rest are. I guess this place is that part of the world where women are mostly housewives and do not come out of the marriage premises. ( My thoughts). (Oh, by the way, the case is quite different in Male the Capital of Maldives. At least by a smaller percentage. I saw quite a number of women there)
I think these are well built, mostly story and not scary skyscraper tall. But each time I am in the bedroom and look out through the window, I can’t help but picture one of the Tom Cruise films… Or some other Action-Detective where you open the showers and escape through the window!!! All these windows are escape-routes!!! Not like the caged ones I see in houses at home. I think they even have no theft and burglary issues here despite the fact that their windows have no bars. (Where did I grow up from?).