Slivers of heaven

From my Emirates porthole, I watched the first islands drifting in and out of wispy clouds beneath us: emerald eyes set in a dark sea. Down we glided, over lime-green shallows, reefs, the white wakes of motorboats. Suddenly sea became land as wheels thudded on tarmac: weʼd landed in Malé, capital of the Maldives.

I had come to the islands with a group of South African journalists as a guest of Maldives Tourism during those strange weeks just before lock-down. ʻHello, doll!ʼ a voice called across the arrivalʼs hall. It was old friend Allison Foat, former Capab prima ballerina and about as fun a fellow traveller as you could wish for on an island adventure.

Our group gathered, introductions were made. Then, as in Venice, we stepped out of the terminal straight into a water taxi. Along the

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