Down and Going Under
Apparently, we are losing a country. A warming planet and rising waters are slowly but steadily erasing the footprint of the Maldives, the archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean. This may not be news to many, but the Maldivian government has discussed plans to relocate the entire population of around 300,000 people. Since I first saw photos of the white sand, blue waters, and private bungalows, it has been one of my top destinations to visit. It looks like I may need to cross it off my list for another reason, or book a trip soon.
Surely, I’m not the only one with that same idea. Over the last few years, the Maldives have become an increasingly popular vacation spot and tourist destination. What, then, would be the consequences of a tourism boom to this already fragile state? Tourism is the largest external source of income for the country. Does this mean that the more we visit, the more cash the Maldivians have to sort out their problem, or does the sudden rush on plane tickets to the region only add up to burning jet fuel, thereby exacerbating the whole situation?
The situation is quite sticky, indeed. Claims that the islands have been abused and misused as resorts are not unique to the Maldives. The airport-to-resort transportation experience causes many to call foul on travelers who don’t care about the destination so much as the vacation, which is often countered by the tourism-as-GDP-percentage statistic. That aside, the act of relocating an entire people or population is bizarre and even unsettling, even if they go of their own volition.
Something needs to be done, that much is obvious. It is a conundrum for conscious travelers who are looking to green up while still experiencing some of Earth’s most splendid spots. I’m at a loss. What do you think?
My name: Charlie Davidson
How I earn my keep: Writing and editing for IgoUgo.com.
First thing I do in a new place: Lace up the shoes, go for a run or a long walk, and find out what the best local beer is.
Best meal I've had while traveling: I was in Basel, Switzerland, with my family and we drove to Germany one night for their famous white asparagus. It cut like meat, but was tender and sweet. Accompanied by homemade condiments and some German lager, it's an easy way to eat your veggies.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Keep your eyes and mind open, avoid the beaten path, and when in doubt, smile.
When I'm not traveling, I'm: Playing any sport I can.
Travel ambitions: To visit all 7 continents in one continuous trip.
Who I am: An obsessed athlete. I'll try any sport there is. I picked up hockey at age 8, lacrosse at 13, squash at 18, Aussie Rules Football at 20, and marathon running at 23. Now, I do them all. I've also played cricket and rugby, football and baseball, and even some sport called soccer. No sport is too obscure. However, I don't think I'd cut it as a jockey.
Favorite way to get around: Either walking or running is the best way to see the sights, especially the ones you weren't necessarily looking for.
Fondest travel memory: All of them!
Favorite place on earth: Home is a big town on a small island. No matter what ends of the Earth I reach, I always come back to New York.