Maldives Rowing Volunteer
 

How long it's been since I last wrote and good or sad news this is my last post. Brenda over to you from here on in! Who is Brenda? Brenda is my replacement in Addu and she arrived in Male last week and earlier this week in Addu. By the sounds of things her feet have not hit the ground since she arrived - yes I have my spies....!

So to bring everyone up to speed since the arrival of the trolley months and months and months ago. Here is a rapid whizz down memory lane. So I left on the 16th of July and in the two week lead up managed to organise rowing the boats from Hithadhoo to Gan for a picnic and then returning with NO mishaps. Well almost none I had baked a couple of carrot cakes and as one student put it 'it looks terrible but tastes delicious'. It took alot of cajoling/forcing it between tightly closed lips to get them to try a piece it looked so bad......

We did the trip as a relay Hithadhoo and Addu High School rowing down to Maradhoo where Irushadhiyaa school and Sharu-u took over then onto Feydhoo harbour where Feydhoo school stepped in and we continued down to Gan had a great picnic and repeated the process in reverse. The day we chose to do this was the windiest it had been in weeks - lovely head on the way down which luckily meant a tail on the way back. We made the most of this by jumping off the boats and swimming while drifting back up the islands towards home.

Another interschool regatta was held involving 78 children, Dhiraagu and the council sponsored the event and Addu High School and I ran around like headless chickens getting it all ready. Logistical nightmares of clashing with the interschool football competition, bad wind blowing all the banners down and strong winds on the second day adding to the fun. Into this was thrown saying all my goodbyes, packing (i was flying out two days after the competition), flat tires two days in a row (Zig Zag your inner tubes are terrible) getting some last minute diving in (a foul chest cold cleared up just in time), oh and holding elections for RAM's board of directors! Again alot of food was involved  in the goodbye process. Jeeja and Hari convinced once i left their sight i would never eat again did a stirling job. Stewed fish heads galore. I am now quite partial to fish brain and the eye is fine until the polystyrene textured ball in the middle. A bbq by the lagoon on my last night (Hasna missed all the shooting stars AGAIN) and farewell saibo and short eats on the way to the airport both wonderfully memorable.

I had a few days in Male chasing whale sharks (did not see one if anyone wants to know all the things you DON'T do to see one do get in touch) and then flew back to the UK and straight into Olympic fever.

So with a fully functioning Rowing Association and Brenda out there it is exciting times for the next stage of Maldives rowing! I am missing it all but especially all the great friends I made and every time I look at the north sea here I long for the bright blue and warm Maldives sea. I went for a swim in it the other day OMG it was FREEZING! 30 degrees I miss you. Having said that stepping into my first properly HOT shower back in the UK was heaven......

x Tash
 
 

 
 
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After one whole year of back breaking hauling, lugging, dragging and dropping some of the heaviest doubles in the world back and forth from the Power House to the sea four times a day. We have finally got a trolley!!! I was so excited when it turned up I was jigging up and down all over the place. The students are in love with it - amittedly it takes longer to get all the boats put away (loading and unloading one boat at a time) but no one cares.

Boat moving is now accompanied by shrieks of 'he hasn't got a licence', 'learner driver' and the kids sitting and standing on the trolley and being whizzed around the power house. So nice to have a back that does not ache at the end of each session. I think I could go on with detailing the wonders of the trolley but will leave it there - suffice to say the novelty will take a long time to wear off and we are all ECSTATIC!

 
 
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James and Beth (teaching friends in Male) got away from the capital escaping to the country, Addu, for their school holidays. Luckily this coincided with the Interschool athletics tournament that was being held in Addu so all rowing students were running round in circles, jumping over bars, throwing various round and long objects and left me free to entertain my guests!

We went snorkelling, ate lots of food, talked alot (James joined in when not fast asleep on buses, ferries, dinner tables, beds- pretty much anywhere), gave swim lessons, more snorkelling, picnicking, missed a number of buses and got various lifts up and down the islands. We had a day at equator village which doubled their tourist presence. The only two bona fide guests in the place turned out to come from Norwich so we chatted to them lots.


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Jeeja and Hari celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary by a group trip to Dhoogas, a hotel on Gan, for sundown followed by food at I cafe. Everyone had a great time except Kichu. He was convinced he was going to the airport and flying home so was devastated to discover we were getting back on the bus and returning to Hithadhoo instead!


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Beth, James and I managed to get to Formulah – the next island up the Maldives chain – renowned for it’s beautiful beach and women. The order in which these two beauties are mentioned depends upon who you are talking to. But rest assured they will be mentioned. Our departure was delayed by a day as the ferry was having engine problems. However, the following day all was well so we caught a taxi to Maradhoo and boarded. The trip across was quite rough – I kept a firm eye on the front of the boat trying not to be distracted by the vomiting of other passengers into little plastic bags handily provided by the ferry staff before we left. Indeed so insistent were they that people had at least three bags each we knew we were in for a rough ride!

We arrived and were met by Addu and whisked (the fastest driver in the Maldives so far) to our guest house which was great – had a sofas in a communal room with the two rooms leading off it and some crazy coloured lights that you could get to flash at various tempos! We spent the next two days walking the island – we are convinced we are the only people to have walked it in a very long time. Everyone looks at me as if I fell off the moon when I say we walked and did not take taxis or motorbikes. We found the beautiful beach, saw the beautiful ladies and even found the two fresh water lakes (we had walked right past it the first time without realising – caused some confusion). I leave it up to you to decide if the photo of the lakes calls to mind similar lakes in Switzerland!? We were assured by some locals when remarking upon the lakes that ‘yes they are just like the ones in Switzerland’. We muttered some vague agreement and changed topic.


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The Euro 2012 also kicked off while we were in Formulah so we wandered the darkened streets until we found the Maldives Democratic Party Office. They had rigged up a big screen and projector and so we joined the group of men clustered on plastic charis around it and settled down to watch Poland vs Greece. We came armed with coke, lemon puff biscuits and were presented with toffee éclair sweets by our fellow viewers. A far cry from pubs and bars across Europe! Much to James’ delight we were able to have an evening in – ordering pizza and watching ‘the gods must be crazy’.

The ordering of the pizza was an entertaining process in itself – James introduced himself, did a classic British circular chat around why exactly he was calling which totally confused the Maldivian/Bangladeshi at the other end of the phone and then was stumped when asked which village he was in. Apparently there are 8 on Formulah. So our first order finally arrived - one pizza and a sandwich pizza. This turned out to be a piece of toast cut in half with pizza topping on it. So we ordered a second pizza which took ‘farty minutes’ to arrive!


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Formulah is a unique island in the Maldives in that it does not have a surrounding reef and lagoon so is literally one (for Maldives) BIG, 5 x1km, island in the middle of the sea. This means big waves  break directly onto shore and in one spot all the sand and finely ground and polished coral collects and forms a sparkling white beach. So for the first time in ages we were able to surf in on waves and land on beach rather than be smashed into coral reef. Had a great time body boarding in it.

We had our last breakfast at the restaurant overlooking one of the lakes. Followed by another speedy drive to the ferry from Addu in a very posh Chelsea tractor affair complete with thumping rap music. The sea was much calmer on the return, although James felt really rough so was unable to get the full benefit of short eats and tuna Panini before flying back up to Male.

A very enjoyable weeks holiday.

X Tash


 
 
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Well Hasna fell in twice so the underwater sculling award goes to her. The first time was just near the landing stage, she was rescued (albeit at snail’s pace) and brought back to us beaming from ear to ear to announce the water was COLD but ok once you were used to it. Water here in Addu is a constant 30 degrees. The second time she fell in was up above the start in the warm up loop before her heat. Another delightful day – 20kph head wind chopping the water nicely for the 45kg rowers! Again she got rescued (her coach being a typical coach didn’t notice a thing), demanded to be put back in her single and got herself to the start line and raced her heat. Needless to say she shivered the whole way down and was still shivering when she pulled into the landing stage to announce she’d fallen in. At which point I stuck her on my back (there was an issue with shoes and boxes and translation problems which meant hers were nowhere to be found) and ran back to our tent to get her changed and onto an erg. Luckily, learning from the previous dousing I’d been carrying my scarf around as an extra head covering for her in case she fell in again. So this time she was fully dry. Hot coffee and food soon sorted her out!

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Sharu-u cut his finger doing a practice start and then got mad at me when I told him to quit complaining and finish the last 4km - if he could not see the bone he was obviously not going to die. Well he set off in a huff and his stonehearted coach peddled alongside to take rates during his pieces. Sarey had gone ahead to keep an eye on Hasna as the issue with the finger meant she’d put about 1km on Sharu-u. Well i was cycling along and thought ‘ooh I haven’t looked where I’m going for a while’. Turned to look and to my horror clocked a nice marble bollard 2 inches from my front tyre. ‘Great. Here we go again.’ and up into the air I soared (clinging to the bike) and did a full somersault landing on the ground on the other side on my back with bike on top. Much to the amusement of the huge group of picnicking Koreans! Some scrapes, a few good bruises and what feels like a broken thumb were all I had but I couldn’t have cared less. All I was worried about was James’ camera which he’d leant me on pain of death and that I’d landed on top of! Luckily it is made of stronger stuff than the kindle (again broken) and is in perfect working order. Phew! My tumble as you can imagine restored Sharu-u, along with the much desired plaster, to a very good humour. Coaching is as injury plagued as rowing so it seems......

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Numerous evenings were spent at coaches meetings where we sat around talking about anything other than coaching rowing. We learnt that horse is the best type of meat to eat, the Kuwait coach had single handed rescued all the rowing boats at the club during the invasion from Iraq and that the Vietnamese Australian coach runs an Angus Beef stud farm that bank rolls a school and boat club. Naturally weather came up alot and Sarey’s face was an absolute picture when the Kazakhstan coach was talking about the weather in his country currently being very mild (Sarey nodding along at this point) he then qualified the statement by telling us it was 'very nice between -2 and 3 degrees!' Sarey’s jaw hit the ground.... Obviously it would feel mild after a winter at -45!

Being a rowing camp we were based in a hotel in the middle of nowhere and saw mainly the course, bus route and hotel and surrounding grounds. A trip out to a nearby national park in the mountains to see an old temple site was organised for our day off. Really beautiful as all the cherry blossom came out while we were there so everywhere there were clouds of pink and white trees. We also had a night's entertainment involving the performance of a rowing song, musical and dance. It lived up to all the names suggest. Jess I promise to get the video of it to you asap.

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We met so many people doing so many great things and just to hear how all the Asian countries are developing their rowing with the aim to become truly competitive with the more established rowing nations was really enjoyable. To give some idea of their progress in 1999 at the Qualification regatta for Sydney only 3 countries raced in the women’s single event. This year 16 countries were represented in the women’s single and 20 in the men’s single. We had 22 countries altogether.  The thing I really liked about having my ‘coaches’ hat on was that I got the opportunity to talk to everyone. As a team we made lots of new friends.

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Sharu-u and Hasna did an incredible job on their first ever camp and international regatta – I was really proud of them. They learnt all about the rowing machine, improved their technique, rowed in a couple of lovely empachers without falling in and raced their first 2km race ever on the training camp and then went out and had a full four days racing at the Olympic Qualification Regatta. They came last in every race but refused to be demoralised, never grumbled or complained (loudly anyway) and always got on the water keen to race and try out the new suggestions made by their coach such as: ‘please don’t rate 20 in a race ever again’, ‘I want you to be unable to move when you cross the finish line’ (this after Sharu-u happily announced he would have been able to do another 2km race no problems at the end of his heat) and to go out as hard and fast as they could off the start to see how long they could hold onto the pack.

Each learnt alot about racing and discovered that rowing is a masochistic sport in which people delight in hurting themselves. When they came to tell me that their legs hurt after 200m what should they do? they were not expecting the answer that racing hurts the whole way down the course and is the same for everyone so make it hurt more! Their times improved each day they went out. The support and acknowledgement of their efforts they received from the other teams and coaches was a huge boost to their morale and went a long way to making their experience a positive one. 

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Being in that environment also opened their eyes to what other rowers do, how much they train, how strong they are (the girls here are stronger than all the boys at home was one comment) and got their enthusiasm pumping sky high. I’m being pestered daily to get hold of rowing machines (oh the innocence they will soon wish we didn’t have them...) so we can practice on them and they now want to do weights and long outings and have promised they will not say they are tired..... It’s also done wonders for the group back in Addu who followed their progress through facebook, email and skype and all are keener than before. We are now looking to become members of the Asian Rowing Federation and so be able to take part in all the various Asian regattas as they come along.

So exciting times are coming up but for now we are back down to business and training for the interschool rowing competition on July 13-14.

X Tash

 
 
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First night wearing every single one of our woolly clothes!
So after a lunch of curried fish intestine, rice, onion omelette and 3 bananas I feel ready to tackle the back log of blogging.... I have tried to upload this blog three times now and computer gods hate me so much the internet crashes each time i'm ready to hit publish.

We’re all back in Addu and what a time we had! So many firsts for Hasna, Sharu-u and Sarey – first long haul flight (the novelty waned rapidly and by the Doha – Seoul flight the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ questions began to come out – all now hate long plane journeys), first escalator – going up and down them helped pass the four hours in Qatar airport, first time being in air cold enough to see your breath (check out Sarey in his coat!!), first bus ride that lasted for three hours and we had still not reached the end of the road and of course the hills and mountains. Highest point in the Maldives being 2.3m!

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Fun, food and photos in the accreditation office
Talking of firsts on the night we arrived while waiting to collect a few other countries before going to  the hotel we bought a few bits and pieces to eat from the 7 Eleven including sea weed – yes a definite Howard purchase, Mum would be proud. Everyone gamely tried some and a variety of faces were pulled and comments made. However, by the end of the trip everyone was tucking into the packets of seaweed served regularly with lunch and dinner.

A note on the food here – thankfully despite missing fresh tuna and ‘proper rice’ the food was deemed by all to be edible and even in some cases tasty (praise indeed!). Happily for the dustbin on the team, I had no problem and was glad the others would try everything once before a decision as to whether they liked it or not was made. Unfortunately, for Hasna she discovered that gummy rice dumplings with gooey unknowns in the middle were not to her taste while a bunch of sweet Korean ladies were doing all they could to entertain us in the accreditation office. She stood behind me and retched and gagged and pulled funny faces until it went down. Then as food was being plied on us grabbed a load of mentos to keep the ladies at bay!

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Leisure Boats = super sonic stealth craft...
So how to describe it all? Let’s go with Training Camp first. Five FISA coaches, headed by Brian Richardson, had been put in charge of the camp and each country taking part was split between these five coaches. The first day involved me putting on my rigging hat (never my favourite occupation). I have a feeling I looked like I was just pulling numbers out of thin air doing some crazy calculations and then pronouncing we were half a centimetre out or spot on to the bemused looks of Sarey and the other two. Because we were coming from coastal boats the Korean organising committee had rented a couple of ‘leisure boats’ for our use. One stable flat bottomed, complete with stabalisers that I immediately removed, and the other nicely keeled and a good bit wobblier than what we were used to. So having rigged the boats perfectly and finally found two sets of blades that actually managed to go down to 285cm we launched onto the water staying within range of the landing stage. All went well with everyone marvelling at the lightness of our leisure craft.

That afternoon, Brian having announced to the whole camp that the weather and water conditions at Chungju were spectacular and perfect, the wind had picked up into a biting cross and the water was covered in lovely waves. So with strict instructions regarding the circulation pattern Sarey and I launched our two little athletes to go and complete their first ever 4km on a proper course. General heart attacks ensued as Sharu-u decided the dead lane was the right one to be in and convinced Hasna he was right. So Sarey and I ran round and cadged a lift with the Korean coach and Anna our lovely translator. We caught up with them and then really confused them by making them come off the course out of the way of all the others while they got the hang of the finer boats. The four km was completed with both boats being blown all over the shop – they felt better about it all when they heard all the other athletes complaining about what a horrendous outing it had been.

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The hills are alive
The rest of the week was lovely flat calm and sunny and we built steadily up to 16km spread over two sessions. I decided a three session day was in order and hauled everyone into the gym after lunch one day – next day I had two very tired athletes who were barely able to speak so thought it was best to just stick to the two sessions. Instead we went for a couple of walks up in the hills behind the accommodation and played basketball on the court when anyone felt they had more energy.

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Some of the ladies in yellow
The Koreans had organised a load of interpreters to help all the teams out and they were really lovely and exceptionally friendly. To Anna, Sol and Sura goes a huge thank you for sorting out telephones, washing powder, rigging equipment, basketballs and anything else 'Team Maldivou' required. By the end of our stay 'Team Maldivou' had created quite a name for ourselves for not only causing ‘minor’ issues such as having organised nothing to decorate our blades with – stickers had to be ordered in the last couple of days (doing things at the last minute – never!) but for also being very smiley, friendly and outgoing. Sharu-u was a definite hit with all in yellow jackets holding court regularly even while getting on the water for racing.....! We tease him lots, there were tears when we left....

Ok the rest of the tale I hope to put up tomorrow all things going my way!

x Tash

 
 
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Do you want to be part of an amazing project where you can really make a difference to people's lives in a unique country?  This is definitely not a gap year project or pay for volunteering - this is a job and we are looking for a really special person to drive the project forwards.

If you have experience of teaching rowing (you do not need to be a good rower, we want inspiration not perspiration!), have spent time abroad, are independent and resourceful and most importantly looking for a challenge, then I would love to hear from you.  

Have a good look around this site and if you able to commit for a significant period of time (roughly six months) then please email me for more information.  maldivesrowing@hotmail.co.uk 

I am really sorry but we are only looking for a female coach at the moment, due to the nature of the work and the culture a male coach (at the current time) would not be possible.

 
 
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On Saturday 1st of April selections were held in Addu for the chance for one boy and one girl to represent the Maldives at the Asian 2012 Olympic Qualification Regatta in Chungju, South Korea. The regatta will be held on 26th-30th of April and prior to that there is a training camp from the 15th of April to which the Maldives had also been invited. All flights, food, accomodation and travel expenses are being covered by FISA (the international rowing federation). As you can imagine everyone was incredibly keen to take part in the selections. So the single was dusted down and everyone given a chance to practice in it before the big day. Only two fell in which was very impressive given everyone's hatred of holding onto their blades at all times!

We had 20 students come down for selection starting at 830 on Saturday morning. Naturally we had a few glitches to keep us all on our toes and ensure that everything took just that little bit longer...... The motor boat engine developed a cancerous illness the night before and now only functioned in first gear - unable to keep up with a single it was so slow! The two stop watches we were using for the timing jointly refused to go past 35minutes so every 30 minutes racing would be paused as i ground slowly up and down the course resetting watches! Fishing boats appeared at inopportune moments during races and there was the general fun and frolics caused by steering into banks etc. With me for a coach it's going to be inevitable there will be steering fun and games.

Roba and Salmy were our erstwhile timers and had the unenviable task of standing on the shore in the sun for four hours taking times. By the end Roba had built himself a little 'house' - roof made of a sack draped over a bush, leaves for his feet and a nice piece of cardboard to sit on. Once we'd dropped off his cigarettes he seemed very content! Luckily, after 4 hours we had two winners!!! Fathimath Hasna Hassan from Addu High School and Ibrahim Sharu-u from Feydhoo School. Both won by 4s over second place and in the mens group we had 4 people joint second. The two selected were ecstatic and the others went away with a mixture of long faces, pleas to be allowed to race again and promises that they would never speak to me again!!
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Hasna
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Sharu-u
 
 
So selections done all that was left to do was obtain a passports, three visas, book flights, accommodation and try to find winter clothing in a tropical paradise where the mercury never drops below 26 degrees! All in the space of 11 days – how hard could it be.......???

Well it turned out that we needed two passports to be issued and although you may be able to apply for them in Addu you can only collect them in Male – problem number one. Problem number two there is no Korean embassy in the Maldives the closest one is in Sri Lanka and if you apply for visas here it takes 14 days. So I was now going to have to fly to Sri Lanka (with all passports) on the 8th to apply on the 9th collect on the 11th and be back ready to fly to south korea from Male on the 13th. Oh and you also needed a visa support letter from South Korea with the names of the travellers on it before applying. That is all very well if you know the names of the four people going! The last place was to be filled by a coach from the Maldives and after four false starts we finally confirmed the fourth person, Sarey, at 1300 on Thursday. A manic rush then ensued to get all paperwork re- printed and signed by the relevant people before they left for the weekend at 1500.

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Sarey
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Hithadhoo from the air
Sarey was packed off to Male to get his passport on Saturday.  Sharu-u and I followed on Sunday to pick Sharu-u’s up so that I could fly to Colombo weighed down with paperwork, photos, letters, signatures and documents from all over the place! It was Sharu-u’s first flight ever and first trip to Male which like everyone he found very crowded and built up compared to Addu. Also a day spent sitting around in passport offices was not what he had imagined his first trip to the capital would involve....


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Colombo Rowing Club
Sharu-u returned to Addu Sunday evening, Sarey stayed in Male and I went to Colombo. Hasna having been to India once had her own passport already so no headaches there. After handing  the wadge of paper over to the Korean embassy I made my way to the Colombo rowing club enjoyed a 2km scull in a fine boat (lovely and light after all the coastal boats) and then settled down to a sundowner with the club captain and ex captain and a chat about the craziness of this year’s Oxford Cambridge boat race. Further excitement was added by the Indonesian earthquake which we felt in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and the subsequent Tsunami warning that was issued just before I was due to fly. My taxi driver was convinced we would be swept to our deaths by a wall of water at 1620 while I was more certain that I would die imminently as a product of his and the other road users crazy driving. Luckily we were both wrong and survived the journey to the airport.


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Winter clothes...
So amazingly now we’re just waiting to go - we have got tickets, passports, visas, insurance and amazingly located two fleeces, one enormous trenchcoat and fur lined gloves from a friend of Sharu-u’s brother to keep us all warm. It was one degree last week and has warmed up to 10 degrees this week so not too bad! The go down at the National Olympic Committee was trawled yesterday for tracksuits that would fit – lots of XXXXXL’s and not alot of mediums left – towels, socks and pins.

So next news will be from Korea where cold temperatures, different food (Hasna’s mum has loaded us down with Maldivian staples and forbidden her to eat frogs and insects!) and skinny racing boats await.......

If you want to check out where we're going it's Chungju South Korea and the website address is:

http://english.2013chungju.org 

It comes complete with funky music!


X Tash

 
 
Well I’m back in Addu arrived on Friday night. It has been lovely to see everyone again and catch up with all their news about new jobs, new bicycles and housing renovations! Other than expressing how nice it is to see me again the main comment is ‘ah you are so WHITE! How is that possible, you were only away for a month....? That would be the English winter for you.

I’m staying with the family I was living with before I left and was greeted by squeals, screams and jumps at the door by 3 year old Mikael! I was given the tour of the house to see all the changes that have been made to convert part of it into a new restaurant. Looks great. The Education Unit had made a go beautiful little ‘welcome back’ card which was on my old desk and as it was Mary’s birthday, my first day back started with a slice of chocolate cake – yummy!

So yes it’s all about the rowing again. However, something new has cropped up since I went away. FISA (International Rowing Federation) has invited the Maldives to attend the training camp taking place before the Asian 2012 pre Olympic Qualification Regatta in Chungju, South Korea. So I am meeting with the principals of the schools involved to discuss this on Tuesday and hopefully run selections to determine who the two rowers will be. We can take one girl and one boy along with a coach. What an opportunity and experience for everyone!

Then it’s back to the original plan of holding an interschool competition in July.... I’ve gathered from a couple of people I bumped into yesterday that the rowers have been keeping themselves busy in the last month or so getting involved in other sporting activities from athletics competitions to swimming and doing very well. Going down to unearth my chariot of a bike from storage in a minute - somehow I think a service/oil and air is going to be required. Then tomorrow is the jolly task of reassembling the boats – always so much slower than taking them apart – to get everything back in order and ready for business!

X Tash
 
 
Again I write a blog and fail to post it for about 3 weeks.... Sorry!

The year started well. Again large numbers of students returned  to rowing and others came for the  first time and lots of desire for swimming lessons please. Sadly, I learnt the lesson I can’t do everything at the same time so swimming lessons were postponed to April and coaching effort put into the rowing until the first regatta in March. Addu High School were nominated to organise the two regattas one in March and the other in July – we’d even got round to forming a committee! Oh and I’d fitted in diving lessons and got my qualification (3rd time lucky...). Diving is a truly fabulous feeling -  I think my ancestor got in the wrong queue when they were offering evolving as life on land or in the sea! Saw manta rays and sharks on my first dive off the house reef. Naturally the memory card was full so had to work out how to operate all the buttons and knobs on the camera housing to delete photos while having a minor over excitement fit - so only have a couple of photos! 

Now, I’m not blaming what happened next totally on Baz and Tony (friends from the UK) but I will definitely think carefully the next time they offer to come out and visit! They arrived the day before President Nasheed resigned. We spent the next ten days watching events unfold before it was decided that the project close down while things settled. So I flew out with Baz and Tony and am now back in the UK freezing cold, missing my friends and all the students enormously and putting together a proposal for the future of the project while keeping my fingers crossed that the future will be sooner rather than later.  

So hoping, hoping and hoping that it won’t be too long before I can return and continue where we left off. 

X Tash