with Myself...
The water villas.
The reception area at the resort.
A 'dhoni' - the boat that takes us
between the islands.
August 27, 2006

When I was in South Africa, I read a book called ‘Honeymoon with my Brother’. I feel like an appropriate title for this trip is
‘Honeymoon with Myself’…

I am not used to the pampering that I am receiving at this place. It started the moment I exited customs. I was whisked away
to the car that would take me to the other side of the airport. This was where the little seaplane ‘airport’ was. I was shown into
the Hilton lounge where I was given a cold, lovely-smelling wet towel, a glass of juice and a place to sit and relax while waiting
to hear that the plane was ready to board. There was also a spread of unfamiliar looking fruits and pastries. I was starting to
get a feeling about what I could expect once I got to the resort…

Within fifteen minutes it was time to hop on the ‘water taxi’. It was a combination of a boat and a plane. The runway was
literally the ocean. How crazy is that? I think it is safe to say that just about everybody’s mouths were agape at the scenery we
were seeing. Seeing the atolls exactly how they look on postcards. Seeing the sharp contrasts in the different shades of blue
that the Indian Ocean has to offer. Feeling like we were going out to the middle of nowhere only to see resorts sprinkled
around on different islands below us. I would have to say that it was love at first sight for everybody on board.

And then we got to our destination: the Hilton Resort at Rangali Island. The three of us that got off here (Marc and Kyla -
honeymooners from Seattle - and myself) were liking the looks of things. How could we not…

Dean greeted me with a refreshing cold towel and then proceeded to take me to the lobby area. As we sat, I was served a glass
of water and lime sorbet in a martini glass. I was now well-aware that three nights here would not be enough time for me – I
was going to love it far too much to have to leave that soon. All I could think was ‘Why, oh why, did I only book this place for
three nights???’

And to think that things would only get better from here…

Dean went over the different restaurants with me and what each had to offer. They all sounded amazing yet I knew it would be
somewhat easy to narrow it down as I was not going to choose any of the really romantic options.

Now it was time to go to my villa. When booking the trip
waaaay back, I really did not have an option of what type of room I
was going to stay in. There was such a discrepancy between the prices of the first option and the next option that the decision
was essentially made for me (but I have to admit that when the least expensive option is a ‘beach villa’, you really don’t feel
like you are cheating yourself
that much). We got to the villa and I really and truly thought they gave me the wrong room. I
wasn’t going to say anything as it was nicer than I ever would have imagined and I did not want to give it up in case they made
an error. My mouth literally dropped. I just kept saying ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.’ Poor Dean probably thought I
had never been to a hotel before.

I could go on and on about this villa. I could start with the adorably hip Nespresso machine that sat on the counter just as I
walked through the door with the adorably colorful Nespresso containers. I could talk about the nice ‘Schott’ glassware that
they had (I am admittedly a snob when it comes to what I drink my wine out of). I could talk about the walk-in closet that had
options of two different types of robes and a nice rain jacket, if needed. And then there was the sink/vanity area that was
beautiful. This then led to the outdoor shower which then led to the outdoor bathtub (that was big enough to hold six)
surrounded by some candles. Holy moly! And I still had yet to walk through the door to see the bedroom…

We entered the door and to the left was a little courtyard with a fountain and to the right was the bathroom. Finally, the
bedroom came into view. I was liking what I was seeing. A flat screen television and CD player sat in the corner. Next to that
was the couch and table (that had tropical fruit arranged in a very minimalist kind of way on top of it). Directly across the
couch was my huge king-size bed. Next to that were the nightstands (one of which held the remote to work the blinds) where
the lights could be dimmed with the pressing of a button. Next to the bed were floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the
ocean and a door that would lead me right out to the beach.

I am almost embarrassed as to say what one of the first things I did before I headed out to the beach. Keep in mind that it was
just a couple days before this that I was in the Rajasthan floods and many of my clothes became un-wearable due to the
splattering of mud that got on some of them. Others became unusable due to spending a sticky night on a bus. I did something
that I think it is safe to say that no other person here has done before… I made a washing machine out of my beautiful bathtub.
I threw in a package of Tide and filled the water. Then I threw in my clothes and gave them the bath of their life. I could justify
the hand-washing laundry facility that I set up in my bathroom as nobody else would ever know about it. I hung my clothes all
around so that they could air dry. This was definitely
not what a bathroom like this one was made for…but I needed some
clean clothes (and my principles would not let me pay $4.50 per shirt to have the resort do my laundry). I was going to hide
any evidence of this well before dinner so that housekeeping could figure that I was just a normal guest like everybody else. I
headed out to the beach and then went to afternoon tea and just relaxed a little bit. I then came back to my room and was
horrified to see that housekeeping had already come to turn-down my room. I was busted as the guy clearly saw clothes
hanging everywhere. I really wanted to get rid of the evidence but I clearly miscalculated the time that rooms get freshened
up for the evening. In his mind, I am sure I brought the clientele of this resort to an all-new low. How embarrassing!

But I have to admit that the turn-down service was excellent as they put the right amount of light in each of the areas of the
room and it looked absolutely beautiful and…well…romantic. Turn-down service would not bring a piece of chocolate on my
bed; instead guests would receive a sample-size beauty product packaged in a sheer fabric bag. Each night would bring a
different product in a different color bag.

When lying out on the beach, we would be offered water, fruit, a spritz, etc. There was even a guy walking around with a spray
to clean people’s sunglasses.

The entire resort was made so that you would never have to wear shoes, if you so desired, for the entire time that you are
there. Not even to the nicest of restaurants. Most of the restaurants were even
in the sand.

Every afternoon there was an afternoon tea which was a nice little thing to have to hold me over so that I could have a late

The gym was beautiful as it looked right onto the ocean. Bottled water was plentiful, as was the selection of tropical fruits.

This, in a nutshell, was my resort. I just wanted to paint a better picture than just ‘my hotel rocked’. I was guaranteed to have
a great birthday.

At one point on my birthday I realized something. I wanted to take an account of what had been accomplished in my life and
what had yet to be. But before I got to that, I would think about this trip and what I had been getting out of it. And then it
dawned on me. I have failed miserably in one major department – my trip ‘budget’.

At the beginning of my trip I was incredible. I documented every purchase and ATM withdrawal into a spreadsheet. A few
weeks into the trip I started entering approximate costs for things that I had purchased and money that had been spent. A
couple weeks later I would guess-timate how much I had spent in an entire week. And it was probably the next week that I
would open an Excel spreadsheet for the last time. Being four months into my trip, I had absolutely no clue how much money I
had spent up to this point. I started to add things up by approximating what I had spent in each country in addition to the
costs that I paid before I left for this trip (airfares, tours, etc.). I came to a sad conclusion. The ‘wedding money’ that was
meant to be used for a year of traveling was depleted after only four months. Considering the ‘wedding’ is officially over (and
now I dip into my savings account), it was perfect timing that I would be in the Maldives. As it truly made it a ‘honeymoon
with myself’…
Back to Maldives.