Last Christmas and New Year’s was spent on the strangely beautiful island of Socotra, a lost world of ancient landmasses and bizarre flora. Many have asked how I ended up there, and I am afraid to share that the story is an incredibly silly one with Google playing a starring role.
A little over two years ago, my then boyfriend, now fiancé, and I were travelling through South Asia and intended to end our trip in Sri Lanka. However, despite having spent over a month travelling from the wintry valleys of Ladakh to the golden coasts of Galle, it became apparent that we were not ready to leave just yet.
We were on our final evening, enjoying a last-ditch splurge on a romantic dinner in Sigiriya with a little too much wine when we made the decision to extend our trip. I would find a way to postpone a job interview, and he would send his boss an evasive email.
The destination? Anywhere in the Indian Ocean.
And that’s when Google Maps took centre stage. It looked like both Seychelles and Mauritius would be in the running for this one, and, for some reason, Kelvin started to excitedly chatter about penguins in Madagascar.
Our eyes soon settled on an island we had never noticed before, located off the Horn of Africa and stated to be within the territory of the Yemeni Republic. Socotra? An intriguing name that warranted a search.
When we saw the images that started to stream in through Google search, of flora that straddled the line between the grotesque and the marvellous and of white sandy beaches that were not only untouched but also unheard of, we knew we had found the destination.
Of course, with only 5 hours before the car was meant to pick us up for Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, we didn’t have much time to figure out how to get there, and we ended up travelling to the Maldives instead.
Nevertheless, the images of Socotra stayed with us ever since then, and we spent the next two years waiting for the right time to go. It took a lot of planning, a fair amount of coordination, a big argument over costs, and resignation to the fact that we’d be celebrating a dry New Year.
Was it worth the while? Completely, and I am looking forward to writing more about it.