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One day trip to hell

smoke1 There is a saying, that when you see your lover in the morning without any make up for the first time and remain in love, your relationship should last long. Today, after one month of living in the Maldives I saw it with no make up at all. I visited the garbarge island, Thilafushi.

Until today Thilafushi was only a distant view of the sinister smoke as seen from the South-West corner of Male. I had a rough idea of how it may look like after BBC’s documentary ‘Apocaliptic’ island of waste in the Maldives, but Thilafushi is not just a place, where all the trash from the Maldivian houses go to. It is like an abandoned city with only those left, who have no other choice, but to operate the dumping ground.

We took a Thilafushi ferry from Male at 10 am for 11 rufiyaa. We arrived in half an hour and had time for „sightseeing” until 1:30 pm. The return dhoni was scheduled to departure at this time. We started walking ahead without a clear idea of where we were heading to. It was Friday, day of the special prayers for Muslims, so the streets were almost empty. The few people, which didn’t go to mosque (yes, there is a mosque on the garbage island) were staring at us: visitors are not very common there. We tried to ask in Maldivian or English, how to get to the garbage processing spot, but nobody spoke none of these languages. Thilafushi’s only inhabitants are Bangladeshi migrant workers, operating the garbage last journey.

After 40 minutes walk in the deadly heat we started to smell the smoke of the burning waste. Out of the sudden we saw a terryfing lanscape: moutains made of all sort of junk. Hardly breathing, we looked around. Everything was here: books, food leftovers, resort bathrobes, even the wine bottle (it was the first one my Maldivian friend had actually seen in her life, since alcohol is not allowed in the Maldives). 300 tonnes of garbage is brought daily to Thilafushi, not only Maldivians producing them but also thousands of tourists visiting the country each year.

The problem is, transporting all the garbage to one island, burning it, and let the waste drip into the ocean is not really a proper waste management. However, visiting Thilafushi is not another argument to judge, how the things work here in the Maldives. It’s a literal sign of what we are doing to the nature. I don’t consider myself as planet saver, but I will never forget the sight of the burned junk dripping to the turqoise lagoon.

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