Our series of posts on the Maldives (one and two) coincided with a very special moment in our lives, our wedding anniversary. It therefore seemed logical to share one more post reminiscing about these very romantic and breathtaking islands. Romance is often defined by a place, time or moment. Like a succulent mixed fruit smoothie, the Maldives provided an excellent opportunity for these factors to blend effortlessly.

Maldives Romance Honeymoon

Preparing for our wedding (watch our wedding dance at the end of this post) left us with very little time to carefully plan the stereotypical idyllic honeymoon. Therefore, as a temporary measure, we decided on an unconventional mini-moon (a sort of ‘half-way’ honeymoon) which involved taking a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, starting from San Diego and ending in San Francisco (more about that trip in another post). Although it is hard to fault the stunning coastal views of Big Sur and the lush wine valleys of Sonoma, that road trip didn’t quite fit the mental picture of a romantic escape. We hate stereotypes, however the chance of a honeymoon in the Maldives was one stereotype we were glad to embrace. We had many memorable moments from our trip to the Maldives. However, one stood out for us the most and it involved a Little Green Bird.

 

The Little Green Bird

The evening before our departure, with just enough time to catch one more glorious sunset, we decided to take a lazy walk along the white coral beach at Kurumba. Time passed slowly, like sand filtering through an hourglass, as the gentle lagoon waves lapped against the shore, calm and soothing, bathing our feet with its warmth. Soon, we found a nice little spot on an empty stretch of beach and began messing around with Eulanda’s camera while stealing the odd kiss in-between.

Maldives Romance Honeymoon

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I observed a portly Maldivian man approaching. From his demeanor, he looked like one of the resort groundskeepers and was clearly about to begin his evening routine of tidying up that stretch of the beach. Short and squat, his weathered olive brown skin contrasted with his resort-issued uniform of white knee length shorts while blending with his brown shirt. He began rearranging deck chairs, perfectly pairing them up like two animals entering Noah’s ark while intermittently raking up stray palm fronds and branches.

He worked silently, starting from the chairs furthest away from us. As we worked our camera, he worked his way slowly through his tasks, seemingly oblivious of us while we clicked happily away on our cameras. However, in a short while, we were soon in the way of his cleaning routine. As we gathered our gear to move on, he flashed a welcoming smile at us and gave us the universal nod of acknowledgement. His ageing eyes spoke of a wisdom that we could sense but only imagine. His nod turned into a gruff, “Hello! Where are you from?” This simple question usually throws us off balance as we struggle to condense our three nationalities into a coherent response.

Obviously intrigued by us, but with very little grasp of English, he motioned to us with his hand to come closer. We approached him and remained still as he picked up one of the palm branches he had swept up, took out a pocket knife, cut off a few fronds and began to work.

Maldives Kurumba Art Romance Palm Bird

As his weathered hands moved slowly at first, it was difficult to make out what he was creating but we waited patiently as we knew it would turn out to be something special. Soon his hands began to move swiftly with dervish intensity but also with purpose and skill. With a little cut here and a nifty fold and tuck there, it soon became clear what this seemingly ordinary Maldivian man was fashioning.

When he was done, he cut a thin stick into a tiny pole and mounted his creation on it. He looked at the piece of art in his hand, twirled it around and with a satisfied smile, held out his hand and presented it to Eulanda; a delicate little green bird, small enough to fit in her hand. We both stared at it in awe and looked up at the craftsman in appreciation.

His name was Ali Ibrahim. We pressed him to find out how he had come about such skill. He shared that palm weaving was a craft that had been passed down to him from his father, who had learned it from his father and his father before that. Somehow, it felt as if all the generations of craftsmen in Ali Ibrahim’s family had secretly conspired to give us a belated but very special wedding gift.

As we thanked him, he flashed another toothy smile and then hustled off to finish off his work. Kindness is a universal currency which crosses borders and boundaries. We had just experienced its Maldivian incarnation.

Kindness is a universal currency which crosses borders and boundaries Click To Tweet

Updated May 2016: We learned that Ali sadly passed away earlier in 2016. We send our thoughts to his family and colleagues.

 

Timeless symbols

Maldives Kurumba Beach Palm Bird Romance

Our trip to the Maldives provided a fantastic opportunity for us to unplug from the world, focus on us, remember how our personal journey had begun and how far we had come. As we admired our surprise bird gift, its rich and multifaceted symbolism suddenly became apparent. In ancient Mediterranean cultures, the palm branch was a symbol of victory, triumph and peace while in many Middle Eastern cultures, it symbolized rest and hospitality. These are blessings we desire for our relationship and marriage and traits which we hope to live out in our daily lives.

Like the bird’s creation from seemingly nothing, Eulanda and I had found love through a very unlikely set of circumstances and when we both least expected it. Therefore, to us the bird also symbolized freedom and a chance to love without restriction and with abandonment. The innate ability of the bird for flight also symbolized for us the ability to rise above life’s challenges that would no doubt come our way.

Maldives Romance Honeymoon

Although we knew this little green palm bird would wither and crumble, we hoped that we would continually be reminded of the profound symbols that it represented and that the significance of the moment would remain with us for a long time to come.

 

Letting go

Although we considered keeping the little green bird, it somehow seemed the right thing to let it go. I recall building paper boats as a child, running excitedly into the pouring African rain, setting my little boat on fast rushing water current and watching it sail into the distance. The endless Indian Ocean around us seemed to be calling us to set our little bird free.

Maldives Sunset Romance Honeymoon

And so as the sun started its descent beneath the horizon, we held hands and walked to the end of the Kurumba pier. Looking out towards the ocean, it seemed fitting to say a little prayer and so we did. We prayed that our love would never die. We prayed that we would stay the course regardless of life’s uncertainties. We prayed for strength and grace to overcome our fears and that our dreams and hopes would come true. We prayed that we would be a blessing to all we meet in our life’s journey. We prayed for peace in the Maldives and in our troubled world.

Maldives Palm Bird Sunset Romance

We let the bird drop from our hands into the waiting hands of the Indian Ocean. Our little bird was going on a journey and so were we.

To mark our anniversary, we’ve decided to share our wedding dance video with our readers. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed putting together the choreography.

Travel affords us the opportunity to reflect on life in general. Have you had any special moments from your travels which have stood out? OR have you had any travel experiences which have highlighted any life lessons. We would love to hear about them so please leave a comment below and tell us about the place and experience. 

 

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).