Beating off the waves – Where Maleans go to play in the sea

The next evening I explored the south east quadrant.  Again I weaved through the tight streets to start with, and found that the buildings rapidly changed from the usual mix of apartments, offices and shops and were high walled industrial units.  All the functional parts of a city were packed in here; the electricity generating station, various storage units, the odd factory.  And I found what could possibly be the highest point in the whole Maldives.  Behind a high concrete wall, a mountain of refuse towered above me, at least 10m high.  I suppose like anywhere else, 100,000 people had to find a place to put their waste.

I emerged on the coast once more and crossed the busy road.  But instead of the usual harbour crammed with boats I found an open area of water surrounded by flags.  About twenty men were stripped down to shorts or trunks and were messing around in Male’s open air swimming pool.  In a breach in the tetrapods the sea was sploshing in recycling the water in the pool. Even though it was starting to go dark, it was obviously a popular pastime.  As I walked east along the promenade I realised I had come across the main recreation area of the city set around a series of squares, gardens and open spaces.  In one square  seats were laid out in the open facing a large cinema screen.  When I reached the corner to head north again, I found a patch of open beach; the first time I had seen anything approaching natural coastline in Male.  A few people were on the beach sitting talking, a scattering of eager surfers were riding a narrow set of waves in a small bay biting into the island.  It was so strange after days of seeing the coast as a long concrete esplanade protected by high walls or tetrapods to see a bit of exposed coast.  Then I stepped in something wet.

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