The epic conclusion to Part 1.
The plane dropped. I don’t know how far it dropped, but it was enough to shoot my small intestines into my larynx. It was also enough of a drop to scare the passenger next to me so badly that she nearly broke my hand with her Kung Fu grip. Lucky for her she was my wife. The plane caught itself and steadied it’s heading just long enough for it to drop a second a time. This time, the drop was even steeper.
The wind whipped across the plane from the East one moment, and from the West the next. The cockpit’s windshield was streaked and hazy, a big difference from the clear skies that filled that view on the ride TO the resort. The other contrast between the arrival and departure flights was the pilots’ behavior. On the way to Medhufushi, the pilots had barely been part of the process. A few buttons pushed, a lever pulled, and we were there. Now, it was as if they didn’t possess the speed and number of hands required to do all that was necessary in that small cabin.
I now understood why cockpits are normally closed off from the passengers. It isn’t for the pilot’s safety; it’s for the peace of mind of the passengers. No one enjoys hearing anyone yell “S**t” when their plane just descended drastically. You especially don’t want to hear that from the person manning the aircraft. They’re supposed to have control. But alas, the pilots did have control over their small plane. And after a very scary splash into dark and rumbling waters, we had arrived at the airport… and only three hours later than we had planned.
Our reservation to TopDeck SeaHouse Hotel had been for 5:30 pm. We got to the airport at 8:30 pm. And we were far from done. TopDeck Seahouse Hotel was not on the airport island. TopDeck Seahouse Hotel was not even on Male, the island directly next to the island the airport was on. After landing, off-boarding the plane, and getting our bearing, we found out what the TopDeck SeaHouse Hotel had failed to mention. From the airport, where all seaplanes flew into, we would have to take a ferry to Male island, take a taxi to another ferry dock, then board another ferry to our hotel. In addition to the 60$ per person, it would take about an hour and a half. THEN, we’d have to get up at 4:00 am just to reverse that whole process in order to make our flight on time. And all of this on turbulent waters, whose waves were currently spraying me in the face… and I was INSIDE.
Nahhhhh, dude! Not gonna happin’!
But we were stuck. The few hotels on the island were extremely pricey, mostly booked, and the rest were on the main island. Well, we must’ve been standing at the information desk with the most hopeless look on our faces because Susie, the Saint of the Maldives, took pity on us. She picked up the phone, and next thing we know, she’s explaining to us in her broken English that she found a hotel, and they’re coming to pick us up. No ferries. No boats. No taxis. Just a warm escort to a hotel we had not planned to stay at. Susie handed me the phone.
“Yes. Nice hotel. Cheap. Very nice. I come to airport.”
“What’s your name?”
“Yes. Nice hotel. I come now. Meet front.”
“Your hotel name?
“Nice. See soon.”
And he hung up.
Despite the confusion, I took Janae and our three bags to stand at the taxi arrival area. We waited for the man from the nice and cheap hotel to pick us up. A van flashed us, which I assumed meant it was our ride. We greeted Rashid, our driver, and he took our bags. He passed the side of his black Caravan and I finally understood why the confusion from our earlier conversation. It wasn’t a nice hotel, it WAS the Nice Hotel. Its full name, painted on the side of the taxi, read “Le Vieux Nice Inn.”
It had been named after the French town which the owner had traveled to many years back. What sold me though was its tagline: “Where it’s so nice to be nice.” We were going to like this place.
Rashid gave us the rundown on the hotel as we drove around the airport base in search of this “Nice” hotel. It was a small boutique hotel holding ten rooms, with an ambitious plan to add three more rooms by 2016. We arrived eight minutes later to a warm man named Haseem at the front desk. He escorted us to our room then notified us that he had upgraded our room to a honeymoon suite – Rashid, had apparently let it slip.
We drowsily slipped into our room and gave each other a look that said, “If this was the honeymoon suite. What would the regular rate get us?” Nonetheless, the room was decorated playfully and whimsically. Lit up seashells ensconced our headboard. And they weren’t the only things. Randomly spaced about the room were small 3D shapes that were also illuminated – cubes, decagons, and tetrahedrons everywhere. You’d think it would be tacky, but it was done in such a way that we actually enjoyed the décor.
The cherry on top was dinner. Not the food, no, it was tasty enough, but we had chosen ‘La Cucciola’ for its appendage to our hotel, not the food. It wasn’t even the random cactus plant that tickled my ear while I ate. What made this whole endeavor truly perfect was that our driver and our receptionist were also the waiter and the cook.
Haseem seated us, got us drinks, and took our order, then walked directly over to Rashid. Rashid, who was chatting up a family of vacationers, stopped his conversation, and walked into the backroom where he proceeded to prepare our meals. And because the kitchen was quite open, we got to watch this pleasant man cook our dinner with a smile. This place truly was “nice.” And the people were so much more than that. They were lovely.
My newlywed wife and I had planned to stay at the TopDeck SeaHouse Hotel who advertised pristine views, delicious menus, and beautiful nearby beaches. Instead, we found a woman named Susie, who introduced us to man named Rashid, who worked at a small hotel, which didn’t have enough rooms to house a football team. We planned to stay somewhere spectacular for our last night in the Maldives, we had no idea that what really would make our honeymoon perfect, was ending up at a place that was simply “nice.”