Vaavu adoration with first sight aspires destination promotion

Gen with her husband prepped for a snorkeling trip --

The pristine qualities of the Maldivian archipelago are a much talked about topic, with blogs and travel sites regularly talking about the white sandy beaches, picturesque sceneries and turquoise waters.

This was what led to Genevieve Darling, an English teacher from Canada, to embark on her journey to the Maldives – to witness the ‘heaven on Earth’ in person. Experience it firsthand.

Little did she expect that one single trip to the island nation, seven years back, would unravel a deep-rooted love for nature within Gen. She had never expected her first trip would be the beginning of a whole new tale in Gen’s life. But alas, the story began the minute she set her foot on Vaavu atoll Thinadhoo. When she fell irrevocably in love with what the island and its livelihood had to offer. Painting a canvas to a larger picture, that was the entire country’s natural appeal.

It was at this point Gen realized that there was no turning back – in fact, a trip back home was no longer something she considered. Her home was here, among the friendly lads and lassies of a country that had a warm people with sincere smiles and cheerful laughter.

Gen exploring a Vaavu atoll island --

This is also the crossroads in her life where Gen transitioned from a teacher to an avid and active promoter of the Maldivian tourism to the wider world.

Originally, Gen had arrived in the Maldives in 2017 with the intention to stay in Vaavu atoll Thinadhoo for only four days. Her itinerary was straightforward – explore the island and its beauty, the surroundings, and the people and then pack the bags to fly home.

Four days later, she had departed to Taiwan. But she carried with her an incomplete heart, since she left a part of it in the Maldives. The rest of what was still beating inside her body was yearning to be complete – which could only be achieved by returning back to where she had left a piece of it. The Maldives.

“When I left back then, I thought four days was not enough. I should definitely come back. So, I decided to make another trip here.”

A failure in currency exchange – a sign to make a second trip!

En route to Taiwan from Maldives, she had to transit in China where her attempts to convert the Maldivian currency saw no success. With no option to convert the money, she was now stuck with a vibrant currency which was a vivid reminder of her mesmerizing experience in the Maldives. It was a sign. A call back to the euphoria she experienced when she first touched upon the white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

She decided it was time to make another trip, and four months later, she did exactly that.

Wows of Vaavu led to Vows in Vaavu!

Four months later, Gen returned to Thinadhoo once more, and felt complete. Amidst the contentment of returning back to place to which her heart has longed for quite some time, little did she expect that a new chapter of her life was still waiting to begin. One that would lead her to the discovery of her paramour.

But fate had an entirely different hand to deal this time. Gen would go on to meet the man who would become her husband, Zaleeq Adam (Piko). This was a sufficient reason as any for Gen to drop the thoughts of ever flying back and completely shift to the country she fell in love with. She kept aside the rest of her plans and chose to move to her husband’s birth island, Vaavu atoll Felidhoo in 2018.

Gen’s fervent love and adoration for the Maldives eventually translated to the manifestation of active efforts to promote the Maldives. But it had humble beginnings. She and her husband then moved to Kaafu atoll Maafushi to run an excursion center with the aim of sharing her joy of living in the Maldives with the enthusiastic travelers who come seeking adventure.

“But that is not what both of really wanted to do. So, we moved back to Felidhoo. Back then I was teaching English through online classes and my husband went diving,” Gen said.

Their lives would continue to proceed in a similar pattern until the world came to a socioeconomic standstill in 2020 following the Covid-19 global pandemic.

“We changed to Maafushi after Maldives opened its borders to tourists, with the hopes to turn up a decent income from our jobs at the excursion center,” Gen, who grew up loving the seas and oceans, continued.

The hustle of Maafushi however, shed the appeal of living on the island after which the two decided to move back to Felidhoo once again. This time, with the aim of starting something of their own.

A piece of her love, now shared with others!

While Gen and her husband moved back to Felidhoo with the hopes of making a living, there was still a looming concern for her. She could not communicate in the native tongue of the beautiful nation that is now as much a home for her as its locals. The large elderly community of Felidhoo did not understand English, so Gen had to learn Dhivehi to become acclimated with the island’s people and their lives.

“Its necessary to learn Dhivehi when you are living in an island like this. The locals here appreciate it when you speak to them in their tongue,” Gen said, while highlighting she made efforts to receive acceptance of the local community.

She then began to make frequent trips to neighboring islands along with the children in her house. In each of these trips, she fell in love with the country more.

Gen decided such a heavenly place should not stay hidden from the eyes that would appreciate a wonderous destination much like she did. She began to capture the memorable moments from her trips and share it on her social media handles for the world at large to see.

The Next Step!

Her enthusiasm to spread and share her experiences with others led to a commitment on her part to provide extensive information or assistance to those who visited the island on tours and expeditions. She wanted the travelers to be aware of the best snorkeling locations, and show around the island’s pristine qualities. But this was not without its share of challenges.

From lack of proper equipment to the absence of a designated excursion center on the island were among the many gripes she about expanding efforts of promoting the island’s tourism activities to the guests. Most of the excursions were organized and run by the guesthouses, leaving constrained options to the tourists.

To resolve this limitation, Gen and her husband founded Jimmy’s Maldives.

“The objective of Jimmy’s Maldives is to provide comprehensive services to the guests that would elevate their holiday experiences, through sustainable planning, and to divert earnings made from such efforts towards community development initiatives,” she added.

Jimmy’s Maldives provides its services through curated holiday packages for guests, that come with all the necessary holiday activities. Jimmy’s collaborates with local guesthouses in ensuring a well-rounded itinerary for the travelers hungry for some excitement and adventure.

Gen aims to provide these services in a community-centric approach, and as such, the excursion center renders a wide array of support and services to the island – ranging from swimming programmes for students, awareness sessions in schools, and female-oriented activities.

“We want Maldivians all over the country to visit Vaavu atoll to experience the beauty and spend a top-notch holiday here. And to make sure they can get these amenities without denting their wallets too much.”

Genesis of Jimmy’s

The excursion center’s name, Jimmy’s Maldives, has a separate and equally interesting tale to it much like that of Gen’s. The center’s name is derived from Gen’s late father.

“My dad’s name was Jim. He passed away when I was 12. The fondest memory I have of his is our conversations about the oceans and its life. The last memory I have of his, is a trip to watch the fish,” she said. The name for the excursion center was suggested by Gen’s husband.

Jimmy’s Maldives expects a mid-July 2024 official unveiling.

The euphoria she experienced is what she intends to relay to others. Gen along with her husband, launched the excursion center to translate the reasons she fell in love with this beautiful nation to the visitors. To show them her experiences, and to help them make their own amazing moments much like she did – and concurrently generate a decent income through which make admirable efforts to assist the local community.

Gen and Piko openly invite others wishing to grab a slice of the beautiful Vaavu atoll, and experience a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience.