Arriving In The Maldives


 

Arriving In The Maldives

Traveling to the Maldives during this Covid time was not so easy.
To enter this atoll-nation in the Indian Ocean, we had to submit a negative Covid test result, done within 96 hours of departure.

To ensure that we would comply with this requirement even if our flight were to be delayed, each of us did two separate PCR covid tests, on different days before our departure.
All tests came back negative and on time.

Our airline changed our departure schedule four times in the days prior to departure, but none of the changes affected our required window of 96 hours before departure.

A day before our departure, Germany instituted a new rule requiring every transit passenger to have a negative covid test when connecting through Germany, done within 24 hours of departure.

We did not know this until we arrived at the Denver airport and tried to check in our two big bags full of diving gear.
The airline refused to check us in because our negative covid test results were not done within 24 hours of connecting in Germany.

We had to think quickly in order to make our flight.
One option was to change our flight to the Maldives and not connect through Germany.
This we could not do, even with the help of the friendly staff at the airline counter.

The other option that came to my mind, was to do yet another Covid test, one that was available at the Denver airport.
There were a few problems.
One was what to do with our big bags.
The second was that they required a previous appointment, and the third problem was that the test center was located behind the security line, in the departure gates area.

We could not get to the gates area, because the airline would not issue us boarding passes.
But we came early enough to not despair.
The airline staff told us that they would issue us a “Gate Pass” (who knew they even existed), if we showed them that we had an appointment for the covid test.

I quickly went online and made appointments for Jules and I, about two hours before our departure time.
Then started the speedy operation to make it in time to our flight to the Maldives.
Jules stayed with our bags, while I took the gate pass and ran to the packed security line.

The man at security must’ve sensed my eagerness to fly to the Maldives, because he handed me a card that allowed me to keep my shoes and go in the speedy TSA free line.
I took the airport train and was at the covid testing center in fifteen minutes.
My appointment was in an hour and a half, but I explained my predicament to the nice lady at the counter, and she let me in early.

I was ushered into a cubicle and a nasal covid test was done in minutes.
I got my negative covid test results in fifteen minutes and ran back to the train and then back to the baggage claim area, and took the escalator to the departure floor, where Jules was waiting with our bags.

He got his gate pass and did exactly as I had done, except that I already explained to the testing center that he too would be coming early in order for us to make our flight on time.

With our third set of negative covid test results in hand, we boarded the plane to Germany, connected again in Vienna and arrived in the Maldives almost two days later, tired and disoriented.
To get to our remote resort, we took a local flight and then a boat ride, which deposited us in an island paradise.

Impossibly soft white sand, beautiful modern villas over the water, turquoise water full of fish, and best of all, a diving center with friendly and experienced staff.

Diving felt SO GOOD!
Initially I felt so weak, and it took me a few days to get stronger again.
I have not enjoyed the sun and the sea for so long, and I almost forgot how if feels to dive in clean waters surrounded by sharks, eagle rays, turtles, bright coral and schools of fish.

The current is mostly strong here in the Maldives, but still I went diving every single day, except for one day when they canceled my dive because the staff at the resort had to get vaccinated against Covid.

I almost forgot how much I loved being under water.
The colors soothe and energize me.
Even at night when I close my eyes in bed, I see in my mind’s eye the many abstract paintings that the soft live corals make.
The world under the sea is a beautiful garden of live creatures and living plants.
Please let us all take care of it lovingly, so it will be here for a long while….

Sending you sun kissed blessings,
Tali

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