I'm not sure why, but I barely got any sleep last night, so this morning I started out a bit of a wreck (distracted, couldn't keep my eyes open, not very steady). My taxi driver showed up right on time (a little bit to my surprise) and I had an uneventful 25 minute drive to the airport. At the airport there was the usual bureaucracy - you've got to be there two hours early, but they make you wait up to an hour between each station (security one, ticket desk, baggage, immigration, security two, gate, and boarding) but nothing I haven't gotten used to. The flight was short - thankfully because it wasn't smooth.
The airport is on its own little island. During the landing I looked out and it looked like the jet was going to land right on the shallow reef. The Maldives' custom officials put me through the most massive search I've ever had. The guy checked the seams of my dirty underwear(!), and felt my tooth brush bristles and dental floss (?!). Finally half an hour later I was allowed to repack and sent on my way. I caught a dhonis (local ferry) across the water and I was in Male'. A quick taxi ride (there are no other kinds - this is a very small island) and I was at my guest house. I changed clothes, and hung out for an hour trying to get a grip on my exhaustion then set out walking.
Male' is a weird place. It's a small island (two kilometers long by one kilometer wide - just over three quarters square mile) and it seems to be nearly a hundred percent covered. During my walk I saw to tennis courts and a small park, the rest is completely paved in bricks (no ground, but also no asphalt!) The streets are very narrow and the building mostly whitewashed coral. It sort of feels like one unit, almost like a campus or military camp. Most of the people around are young adults, and the dress is very liberal for an Islamic state - most of the women were wearing tight shirts and skirts (long) or jeans.
I just happened to wander by an office whose name I recognized from the guide book as a company the runs dive safaris so I went in. It was strange there was a modern office, but no one was in it. Someone finally walked in on my and looked surprised - it's a holiday today and the front door wasn't supposed to be open. She couldn't answer any questions about dive charters and the office is also closed tomorrow (for Friday), so she made a call and I sat down to wait. About ten minutes later a guy shows up to talk to me. He thinks that there are a couple boats going out in the next couple days and that there might be room on one. Basically he doesn't know much either, but he tries to be helpful, gives me some brochures, and promises to email me with details tonight. He thought the price would be about $55 a day all inclusive (boat, diving, and meals) - this sounds much to good, I was hoping to pay about twice that.
I walked along harbor waterfront and found another tour operator from the book that was open. They can fit me in on the 11th for a week. Actually the boat is going for two weeks, but I'd catch a seaplane back to Male' (bonus!) - everything for $110 / day. There's just one spot left as the boat has been booked by a group from Austria, I told them I'd let them know tomorrow or Saturday. I didn't really expect to find out anything today, so I'm feeling pretty good about my options for getting off Male'. Tomorrow being Friday I probably won't get anything done, but I'd like to make some solid plans on Saturday. I found the Maldives' only Internet Cafe, it's very modern with spots to dock laptops, big monitors, and quick connections - it also has wonderful air-conditioning - but it's expensive (75 Rf / $7 an hour - versus $1 an hour in India). I had dinner at a hotel restaurant then walked back to my guesthouse - somewhat surprisingly I found it, I was expecting to have to use a taxi to get back. I'd planned on getting to bed early, but I ended up getting caught up with a bug on one of my projects and the next thing I knew it was very late (or early)...