2020 was the year that everything spiralled into the most bizarre of scenarios.
Our recent trip to the Maldives was no exception. I guess I should start at the beginning...
My cousin got engaged over two years ago and decided that he wanted the wedding to be in Jamaica at Christmas. This was music to my ears as we’ve not had a wedding in the family for years, this was also be a great opportunity to feed my travel bug, the fact that we’d have a reunion in the sun and spend quality time together, escape the British weather, and I’d get to discover my roots with my family by my side. It was just too good!
Anyway, then 2020 happened.
Back in March we were optimistic that this virus would be a thing of the past. We just didn’t foresee that the world would still be at the mercy of COVID by Christmas.
As we began to approach the end of November it became clear that we the UK was about to go into another lockdown. Lockdown 2.0. It felt like we'd taken a bunch of steps forward and then suddenly gone backwards at double the speed. We had gone from “eat out to help out” to "you better not leave your damn house."
As it was a quite a big group of us were travelling to Jamaica our flights were staggered depending on which dates we'd booked, and soon we began to hear whispers within the group chat that peoples holidays are getting cancelled, and it didn’t look promising to be honest.
One of the couples had their trip officially cancelled and at that point my cousin decided that the wedding was going to be postponed regardless, as it wasn't fair for some people to come and others not.
I was lucky enough to squeeze a couple of trips in throughout the year, but my boyfriend had waited almost all year without using his holiday allowance so that we could go on this trip right at the end of 2020. The holiday company contacted us and actually offered is 20% off any other holiday to a destination that they were still flying to, so we had a look at the list.
This is where things got exciting!!
Maldives was on the flight corridor list, it offered isolation, luxury, all inclusive cocktails and pure idealic paradise.
First of all, I never thought that Maldives would ever be a second choice destination of mine, and second of all, I didn't think it would be the first proper holiday destination I'd visit with my boyfriend. (Honeymoon vibes 😬)
But with the resort experiencing low tourism and the additional 20% off the travel agent offered, the prices were incredible and the dates fit perfectly. So we booked!
But, in the run-up to the trip, things started to go wrong...
The first thing was that exactly a week before we were due to fly, I was filling up the hot water bottle in the kitchen, and I spilt the entire contents of my hot water bottle all over my hand.
I didn’t feel the pain straight away, but I could see my hand transforming into an angry shade of crimson right before my eyes. I did everything that I believed you're supposed to do when you get burned. I ran it under freezing cold water for 10 minutes, slathered it in aloe vera, wrapped it up in clingfilm and put ice on it. I got back to work, but my hand felt quite slow and weak.
Then, an hour later it felt like somebody had put my hand in a boiling hot fire pit! The pain was excruciating - I was instantly hysterical in tears.
After some coaxing from my cousin, I went to the hospital. The doctor examined my hand, popped my growing blisters and bandaged up my hand. He then told me that I couldn’t put my hand in salt water or chlorine, or expose it to direct sunlight. I'd have to wait a couple of weeks for it to heal...
So here I was going to my dream holiday destination, where I'd envisioned swimming with turtles and sharks, splashing around in the pool, rolling around in the powdery sand and living my best life. And I had to wear a bandage and keep my hand dry THE WHOLE TIME.
Anyway, I tried to stay positive and just focus on the fact that I was actually getting to travel and experience this gorgeous place, even if it was from the comfort of the sun-lounger in the shade.
But then I checked the weather forecast, and honestly, it was wasn’t great. It was forecast thunder and lightening pretty much every day for the week that we were there. I’d visualised blue skies and sunshine, so the fact that the forecast looked worse every time I refreshed my weather app, concerned me a little.
In the meantime I’d ordered a water-tight rubber glove from a diving company that promised next day delivery. This would mean that I could don my rubber glove that suctioned against my skin and swim around without any issues. Well, of course, it didn’t arrive and I was told it would be back in stock on Monday (which was when we were due to fly!)
The next thing to happen was that we had to take a PCR test 96 hours before we flew. I was so paranoid that the test wouldn’t get delivered on time or that there would be complications, that I physically went to the site to drop off the COVID testing kit in central London first thing on Friday morning when it opened. (We had to do it Friday, because any earlier and we’d have run the risk of the test being invalid during the journey to Male)
By the Saturday night, Daniel had his results. Mine hadn't arrived.
When I called the testing centre, they told me that the test had not been processed and it was not even showing up as delivered, however I knew full well that I had gone to the centre myself and was guided by the staff members on what to do.
I was a nervous wreck. Every minute that passed, I refreshed my emails in the hope that I'd get my results. I usually love the days leading up to a holiday, the excitement, the packing, the out-of-office, that lovely warm pre-holiday feeling.
But on Sunday night (the night before our flight) we went to sleep with NO test results and NO idea whether we'd be on that flight or not.
A late night search revealed that Heathrow airport did rapid testing, so we drove down at the crack of dawn and arrived over five hours before our flight.
I went to the rapid testing station took a test and was told the results would be ready in an hour. During which time we went to the check-in desk to ask a few questions. The check in staff told us that the rapid COVID test would not be accepted by the Maldivian government and they could only check me in with a PCR test, so it was void.
We contacted the testing company to chase my results again, and they still said that it was showing on the system has not arrived. It was getting closer to the time of the flight, and it was looking less and less likely that we were going to get to go on this trip after all.
I felt sick to the pit of my stomach knowing that we'd got this far and would have to go and collect the car, then drive back home and spend two weeks in lockdown instead of two weeks on the trip of a lifetime.
It just felt like it wasn't meant to be.
As a last resort, Daniel scrolled through his camera roll and found a photo of his PCR test with the barcode on it. The number should have been exactly the same as mine, other than the last digit. But the number I had on my testing form had two numbers switched around in the middle.
I had MAJORLY screwed up!!
We called the testing company, and told them what we thought the actual barcode number was, and they confirmed that they had that barcode number and it was currently unassigned.
I felt like such a dumb ass!!! I can’t believe I’d made such a stupid mistake that had caused an added mountain of stress!
But we had no time to waste. We scribbled down the details, waited for my email to come through and ran to the check in desk.
Once we’d checked in and watched our cases move along the conveyer belt, I was handed my passport back, and Daniel wasn’t. The check in staff members looked at us in confusion and asked if they’d already given Daniel his passport back, we said they hadn’t. There was a long scramble of them moving things around searching for his passport, before they found it had dropped on the floor, inches away from the luggage conveyor belt.
Another near miss.
With our passports firmly in our hands, we shuffled our way through security as fast as we could. We found the Wetherspoons in the middle of the departure lounge and ordered a giant glass of wine before getting on the plane armed with sanitiser, face masks and face shields.
I thought that was the end of it...
But our flight was delayed, meaning that we had to run through Qatar airport like lunatics to catch our connecting flight.
I don't think I've ever been so anxious in the run up to a holiday. It felt like I was on this crazy ride that I just couldn't get off, and I was left wondering if this holiday was even meant to be.
I finally was able to relax when we were sat on the speedboat to our island, the sun beaming down on us as we passed turquoise waters and breathtaking views. We were greeted at the dock of our island by the staff playing traditional drums and presenting us with flower garlands.
At that point I finally let out a huge sigh of relief and was ready to enjoy a much needed slice of paradise.
To find out just how magical our trip to the Maldives was once we got past all the drama, keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of this blog coming very soon!!
Thanks for reading!