An Island Paradise

 
“The child in each of us knows paradise.
Paradise is home. Home as it was or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one’s own place, one’s own people, one’s own world, knowing and known, perhaps even loving and loved.

Yet every child Is cast from paradise - into growth and new community, into vast, ongoing change.”
— Octavia E. Butler

I grew up on the island of Malé, the capital of the island nation of the Maldives. When I first landed on the island using a dhoni, the island was host to 30,000 residents. When I last left, there were over 200,000 people living on the 0.8 square miles of land pictured above. Those 0.8 square miles house half the inhabitants of the 1,200 island strong nation.

The Maldives is more than beautiful resorts, breathtaking beaches, and colorful coral reefs. It is a nation like any other, with people filled with hopes and dreams. Some desire for the good old days to return, others wish for change to sweep through faster.

I never came across a Maldivian who did not enjoy playing host, even if they had just met the person. It is not without reason they are known for their hospitality. The exquisite cuisine served here is obtainable nowhere else. It remains the one constant among the islanders as the nation braces itself for each new wave of change.