In the first installment of this three-part series on backpacking Maldives, I mentioned two things my friend Jana and I did that made it possible for us to stay within budget:
1. We took the public ferry.
2. We stayed in Maafushi.
I promise to get around to the third and last thing we did, but I would like to tell you more about Maafushi. There’s not much written about this lovely island yet because Maldives is still associated with luxury private resorts, but I think that’s bound to change in the coming years.
It takes a strong stomach and a steely gut to love Manila. Even then, you have to take small sips at spaced intervals to build your resistance. Because if you take it in all at once, Manila will overpower your senses, knocking you unconscious until the morning after when you’ll find yourself hurling over the toilet bowl and swearing you’ll never ever drink again as long as there’s breath in your hungover body.
Unlike Boracay, Manila is not a dainty glass of margarita topped by a tiny umbrella. Manila is that dark drink in a plain lowball glass, a pungent concoction of spirits that have no business being mixed with each other. It’s the one served to you by the bartender with a devilish smile on his face. Ask him what’s in it, and he’d only say, “You wouldn’t want to know.”
But you do. Out of curiosity, you sneak a peek at the labels of discarded bottles.
Vintage 400 years, says one label.
Fermented in American and Spanish distilleries, says another.
There are a couple more, written in Chinese and Japanese characters you can’t decipher.
The bartender catches you and says, “Some things are meant to be experienced, not learned. Just drink it.”
I asked my mom what it’s like to have daughters who are always out and about.
She said that she still worries a lot, but she contents herself with praying for our safety and leaving it to the Lord. She doesn’t want to think too much about it because there isn’t anything she can do to stop us, anyway.
Mothers are special. But I would like to give a shout-out to my mom and all other mothers of travelers. It isn’t easy to have nomadic children who won’t stay put in one place. And yet you give your love and support because you want us to be happy.
Don’t worry, Ma. Wherever we may go, we will always remember where home is.
Happy Mothers’ Day.