We completed the end of our walk by navigating our way along these boatyards of the northern coast. There was a lot to map here, many jetties – some wooden, others concrete, little docks where boats were brought in to be repaired. The smell of paint and other chemicals permeated the air. Eventually we were in a very industrial landscape -a large factory licensed to make most of the soft drinks for the whole of the Maldives, including Coca Cola. Although a sizeable plant, there appeared to be nothing going on here. Maybe it was a night shift when all the brewing and bottling took place. Next door was the main dock. While the passenger boats came in at the small beach side jetty like we ourselves had done, the cargo ships needed heavier handling, and there was a concrete hard surrounded by a couple of sheds, a couple of containers and piles of freight strewn across it.
Our guides took us back through the town to a small restaurant. We came in from the blinding sunshine and sat at a small table covered in plastic. We chatted over a couple of cokes before heading back to our boat. We’d zigzagged a couple of times during the day in amongst these houses, and apart from the odd church, mosque and school, it was pretty much the same style of villa house surrounded by high walls. I guessed beyond any cultural trait of having these high walls, they gave some protection to flooding from the sea. But I was told that most of the flooding came from rain. The freshwater filled up the reserves below the ground, but once full there was no other drainage and the water would seep up anywhere.