Last day

It’s my last day at Cocoa and I am consolidating my tan on our sun deck. Well, not really. Hiding under the broad umbrella more like it. It’s been 6 days of pure sunshine, with only a 3-hour rainy respite on Monday morning. I graduated from SPF50 to SPF6 in three days, I think I am just about tanned out. Quite blissful.

I did scuba for the first time on Wednesday with Taka. It was nice, we saw turtles, eagle rays and lots of colorful, odd-looking fish on the atoll reefs. But I think I much prefer breathing on land thank you very much. Even snorkeling is preferred; at least you can come up and breathe once in a while when you feel claustrophobic under water.

I am happy, rejuvenated and I love Cocoa like no other destination before. How can somewhere be this beautiful? It is confounding. Why are cities so ugly, and smoggy, in comparison? Why do I live in a concrete maze?

Cocoa was founded in 1978 by a German photographer who bought it from a guy in Male who had never even seen the island. According to common practice of the times, each island was valued based on how many cocoa trees there were on the island. They are, after all, cocoa plantations – only they happen to look like sandy gems sitting atop luscious atoll reefs. There were 12 cocoa trees on Cocoa then, I imagine the price was cheap.

There are 1,200 islands in the Maldives, of which 200 are inhabited and about 80 are one-island-only resorts. One is a prison, and it is located right across from Cocoa actually. Imagine! There are 1,000 more islands to be had. S says they are probably too inconvenient to get to, or ugly, But still! I have dreams of having an island all to myself. Like a 21st century Robinson Crusoe. Or Sang Nila Utama.

For the next 11 hours, i’ll dedicate myself to a new book, delivered wireless via my Kindle App. I will tip the massage girls who kneaded knots out in our backs thrice in a week. I will shower, pack up, then watch movies on my flight back to Singapore. Home for a day, before I leave again for HK. I miss my old girl, Kira.

I think what makes this place special, is the feeling of coming home. Every corner of the island is familiar, the warm ginger tea that they leave out in the aqua therapy room is still there, three years on. We greet staff like old friends, so intimate is this resort.

We popped champagne with the hotel GM yesterday evening, on our last night. It was interesting, listening to him talk about tricks of the hotel trade, how they get guests to spend more, how they track down guests who leave Tripadvisor comments. Interesting, but slightly awkward from the perspective of a guest who is leaving near-bankrupt, ha ha.

And we learned so much more about the traditional Maldivian ways from the staff who kept us up all night with tales of village life on the islands. And Taka-San! We were practically inducted into his impressive 27 years living outside of Kyoto, chasing sharks and sunshine.

It’s been great, truly. Even better, S and A are coming to HK in 20 days!


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