Kuredo: Look, an island! Look, another one!
So there we were, on a dinky little seaplane that propelled us through blue skies and fluffy clouds. Our holiday destination awaited us somewhere over the glittering horizon. As we left humdrum Male behind, a swarm of tiny islands beckoned ahead. We soared over beautiful shades of blue and turquoise waters. We admired golden sand banks rising majestically out of the sea. We pointed out small, picturesque deserted islands with spots of green growth. Larger inhabited ones, crowded with squat buildings. So many leafy resorts with soft sandy beaches and dark wooden villas curving gracefully out into the colourful waters. You could easily imagine the chilled out occupants relaxing in luxury below us. This was the stuff of dream holidays. The only reason for attempting the insanity of long haul flights with a toddler. And it was almost within our grasp. Everyone was looking pretty enthusiastic about the prospect of landing on one of these little pieces of paradise. There were lots of oohs and aahs barely heard over the deafening roar of the engines. “Look! An island!”, squealed the Rascal. “Look! Another island!”.
After about twenty islands had passed by below, the crushing heat and the effect of lengthy journeys to get here began to take their toll on all the passengers. Enthusiasm for the flight waned. Counting clouds and pretty islands was fun for a while, then grew repetitive as the temperature steadily climbed and sweat began flowing freely. When they promised an hours scenic flight on a seaplane they forgot to mention that this one did not have any form of air conditioning at all. Not even a cracked window. The excitement of being on a seaplane could only sustain the group of weary travellers for so long. We were all desperate to finally land and get a breath of fresh air. Preferably a shower and some lighter clothing before collapsing. All those islands were looking very good to us. There would be a brief spark of interest as yet another perfect one appeared temptingly close below us. An unheard sigh as the plane relentlessly droned on past. Everyone grew quieter. And sleepier. It was a plane full of zombie passengers that finally bumped back down to the ocean and shuddered to a stop alongside one of those identical island jetties. We had arrived. Kuredo Resort would be our home away from home for the next ten nights.
We tumbled out of the plane, gasping in sweet and fresh (though super-heated) air and squinting in the sunlight. A smiling row of hand-shaking strangers were waiting to greet us on the dock. All Very Important Staff, or something. We were too tired to listen and be impressed. We’d have happily shaken hands with anyone if it meant we could finally sleep afterwards. Even the drumming band at the reception bar failed to interest the Rascal. The tray of iced tea that arrived at our table while we were getting checked in was a different matter altogether. All our eyes lit up at the sight of chilled liquid. The server explained “Is OK for *points at baby*”. We took that to mean that it wouldn’t poison our son if we let him have it. Caffeine probably wasn’t the best idea for a toddler, but the poor mite looked about ready to drop from the intense heat at that point. He got a rare free pass to guzzle the lot. And he did. In almost one gulp, little sweat-slippery hands grasping it over mine, for fear someone might take it away before he had sucked up every last drop in the straw. He looked about for more, but it wasn’t forthcoming. He eyed up my glass. I started gulping it faster and passed him the warm water bottle instead. He decided he wasn’t that thirsty.
One exciting golf-cart journey later (“A truck, a truck!”) and we were exploring our beach bungalow accommodation. Pretty basic, but pleasant. Not especially toddler-friendly, particularly the outdoor bathroom. However we were going to be perfectly happy sitting on our porch looking through the trees at a beautiful white sandy beach every day. We had a bit of a wait for luggage before we could shower away the sweaty remnants of the journey. After catching the tail end of lunch at the restaurant in an attempt to replenish our energy levels, the next priority was a short nap. We lay all together, zonked out on the thankfully large bed. Not one of us stirred for four hours. Despite the rejuvenating nap and interesting new surroundings, we had a very brief dinner with a toddler that looked fit to drop his head into his plate of food at any moment. We weren’t much better. All the friendly advances from the waiters were sternly rebuffed by the Rascal. They backed off quickly as he displayed his ‘mess with me and I will create a scene’ face. We snuck in one cocktail before the siren call of the bed called us back. I have little memory of that evening other than vast relief at an air-conditioned room and the prospect of a lot more sleep. The island was ready for us, but we weren’t quite ready for the island.