It was so good to see Jeremy – the last time was four years beforehand when I had to hurriedly leave Rodrigues. While he introduced me to Dave, a large cheerful Glaswegian, we quickly caught up on key important updates in our lives, and they gave me a run down in what they had achieved given the 24 hour advantage they had over me in terms of Maldives knowledge.
They had done all the introductory meetings with the government people we were to work with. We were to head off quickly tomorrow morning to one of the nearby islands to look at the real world implications of the guidelines we were to write. Then after a further day, Dave and Jeremy were going to head off to some of the more far flung islands while I was to be left in town to work on some database and have a few more meetings with officials. I was a bit disappointed that I was not to travel further but what I was already seeing was more exotic and enchanting it was bound to be a rich trip.
This small reception area with barely room for a small table and a few comfy chairs, was not conducive to a proper meeting so we decided we would head off to a cafe to allow them to update me on progress to date.
We headed west from the hotel and in no time at all we had emerged at an open square. On the far side was a harbour stacked with small coasters, their cargoes packed tightly but rather haphazardly across their decks. We crossed the road and entered one of several tiny bars – barely a canopy across plastic tables and a small garden area under the trees. There was little difference between any of them and we flopped around a table and ordered some mint teas. Jeremy and Dave filled me in on the details; it was a relatively simple operation. I was dumped with a load of reading materials and told to design a database for them that would catalogue all the sea protection schemes both hard and soft around all the islands. I was also given some past attempts. One document I was to read at my leisure told of a highly detailed and technical document about harbours across the archipelago, and the government was keen on something similar for coastal protection structures. I decided mine would be a lot more simple and manageable, and started to think about how I could make a map of the elements and how the detail could be logged easily on a database.
The other element of this was that we would do some sample surveys of a few islands. I was to help out with one the next day, but then Jeremy and Dave would fly around the islands filling in the gaps while I was to be left along in Male.