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  • Jacqueline Le Sueur

Maldivian Memories

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

tropical island covered in palm trees set in a turquoise sea

A couple of years ago I found a round-robin letter sent to friends when I was living on Vabbinfaru in the Republic of Maldives almost 25 years ago, in the days before email, FB, Twitter & digital photographs. Despite many moves in the intervening years I do not recall ever seeing it since it was written. It is no coincidence I found it when I did nor that I should be re-reading it today, at a time when, more than ever I need to trust, to let go and let my soul sail into the wind. All our journeys, geographical and personal, take us to remarkable places...

March 14, 1997

‘This short note comes to you with love from this tiny, tranquil speck of sand on which I live in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

It has been yet another perfect day today - a sea so calm it’s like glass. Another ‘dolphin day.’ It’s being said that this is the calm before the storm - who knows. Indeed, who cares ... just enjoy each moment as it happens. The past is but a lesson from which we grow. The future is but a possibility that may or may not happen. So why dwell in the past or worry about the future? Live fully in the here and now. Appreciate all that crosses your path, even if it seems unpleasant, harsh or unfair. There is nothing that needs explanation. Explanations involve the mind. Living in the mind takes the spontaneity and innocence out of life; it throws a veil across your eyes hiding the doors of opportunity from sight. Dwell within your heart, listen to your inner self. Trust in what you hear ...

Twelve days later...

I’ve just got back from a short R&R break. I have been up in one of the northernmost atolls with one of our boat captains, on his home island called Feydhoo. Foreigners are not freely allowed to travel outside of the resort islands and Male’ so it was a rare opportunity to spend time with a good friend and his family, and experience the ‘real’ Maldives. And what an adventure it has been...

Two days and a night sailing on a dhoni, one of the traditional Maldivian wooden boats, in each direction, on a sea so flat that when we passed over reefs looking into the water was like snorkeling without getting wet. Such fun, so many beautiful sights...

Like sailing under the light of a full moon. Like being woken by the dhoni captain in the early morning to find the apricot and gentle pink light of dawn illuminating a sea full of maybe 200 frolicking dolphins. Like sailing into the glow of the setting sun on a small fishing dhoni. Like whiling away the morning in the shade of banana palms, stripping leaves from the branches of the Maranga tree which were later eaten for lunch. Like playing English games with 20 kids to the blaring sounds of the ‘Macarena.’ Like sitting on the communal swing cleaning rice in the late afternoon surrounded by the laughter of children. Like going snorkeling with all your clothes on to retain the dignity of your friends. Like lying in the family bedroom at night surrounded by people listening to the story you are reading and which most cannot understand, and yet they still know when to laugh at the punchlines. Like trying to learn how to shimmy up a coconut palm. Like learning how to make rope from the husks of coconuts. Like sitting outside watching the moon rise. And so much more.

A truly memorable experience.

It is now the 2nd of April. It is so lovely today. This letter started on a ‘dolphin’ day and it is ending on one. In between it has been wickedly wild - monsoon rains, high winds and a world filled with a different kind of beauty.

I hope that all is well in your part of the world. Be peaceful and happy.

‘Dwell within your heart, listen to your inner self. Trust in what you hear ...’

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