Driftwood is alluring in its own right. The original tree shaped and coloured by months at sea. So Baglioni’s reception centerpiece – an expansive piece of driftwood is as captivating as it is apropos. The behemoth was washed up on the shores of the island with the 2004 Tsunami.
The tsunami had a transformative impact on the Maldives. Not just their geography and so the losses suffered in human life and property, but also in the very politics of the nation. So many resources were required for the reconstruction effort that the Maldives had to turn to global funders who put as a requirement for their aid and loans and number of radical reforms in the government and economy. Many resorts feature memorials to this dramatic part of their history several of this I’ve featured here, so I have added a “Tsunami” tag to assemble them all
While Brits tuck into Christmas turkey leftovers and start jigsaw puzzles brought by Santa, today marks one of the biggest natural disasters in modern history and the biggest in Maldives history – the 2004 Tsunami. The tragedy touched every corner of the country and devastated a number of inhabited islands and resorts.
One silver lining was the opening up of country’s economy and politics in the aftermath. Maldives desperately need outside assistance to rebuild and the international funds stepped up but only on the condition that the country reformed some of its institutions. For example, the first democratic elections were held for decades.
One resort hit hard was Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa who lost its General Manager. In the aftermath, the resort set up “Tsunami Assembly Point”, akin to “Fire Assembly Points” for which they double as, which help the staff more quickly identify who is safe and who is missing and maybe in need of assistance.
I remember people asking me if it was safe to visit the Maldives for fear of tsunamis. For starters, such an occurrence is a once in a lifetime event. And while, lighting does strike twice, the odds are so small that you are much likely to be hurt by a commonplace incident (like a car accident on the way to the airport) than any tsunamis. Furthermore, the world has learned an enormous amount and also invested considerably in anticipating (early warning systems) and responding to (things like this assembly point) ocean tsunamis even if their remote chance of happening does occur. So the danger is even more minuscule than it was before.
When I came across the assembly point, I thought it was not just an extra-careful precaution, but also a very subtle and tasteful monument to the people who sadly suffered from this bizarre calamity.
Seven years ago today, one of the most profound natural disasters of modern times hit Asian with the Boxing Day Tsunami. With an epicenter in Sumatra, it still yielded deadly force thousands of miles away in the Maldives where 68 people died and 300 were injured.
Like all of the countries affected, the Maldives mourned their losses and started the process of rebuilding. Many resorts were struck which led to renovation projects. The One & Only Kanuharu were hit which, among other damage, fell many of their trees on the east side of the island. As a part of the clean up, Kanuhura’s on-island wood-workers gathered up the downed tree trunks and fashioned them into tables that are used throughout their Handhuvaru lounge. Lots of resorts have all sorts of creative designer furnishings throughout, but these simple, locally hand-hewn creations memorializing a pivotal event in the region’s history are the most compelling to me.
The ‘traditional’ gift for 6th anniversary might be iron, but the USA has adapted a ‘Modern’ version of the anniversary gifts which specifies ‘wood objects’ as the gift of choice. And so if you are looking for an appropriate gift to celebrate this milestone of blogging, then Kanuhura is your first place to check out.
Wood is a thematic element throughout the resort. It extends the overall aesthetic which focuses on Nature. Every room features a wooden piece of wall sculpture (see picture below). My favourite use of wood is the coffee tables in the Handhuvaru Bar which are carved from trees downed by the tsunami which hit the island.
All of the pieces are made at the Haruge Maldivian Cultural Center at the resort using traditional artisan techniques. You can watch them working at the centre or during Maldivian Feast nights (cooked by women from local island) and the artisans come out and do demonstrations during the meal.
If you want to purchase a bit of Kanuhura to take home with you, then the same artisan workshop that creates all of these pieces also produces various items for sale. They sell various plates, serving items and other pieces made from Kanuhura wood.