Sapan points his finger at a line that one can perceive, but not see.
It’s a subtle, imperceptible imaginary line.
Sapan turns to me with a smile on his lips and utters some incomprehensible words. I look at him, pretending to understand, but my embarrassment is obvious.
With a brusque demeanour, he spells out the letters of the word “equator”.
We are crossing the equator line, the mythical latitude zero, surrounded by islands that rise like emerald-coloured gems encompassed by a ring of white sand.
The line dividing the two hemispheres separates the Suvadiva atoll from the island of Fuvahmulah in the deep south of the Maldivian archipelago.
It is not visible, but it is perceptible.
The mere idea of navigating over the widest point on the Earth makes me feel at the centre of the world, in a fluctuating space between nothing and infinity.
Sapan has tan skin, a face marked by sun and salt, and the mere hint of a beard: “I was born a fisherman, and I will die fishing. My home is the deep blue, and there I spend my time in contact with the great ocean that gives me the joy of life every day”.
Sapan slides into the depths with the same movements as a fish; whenever he moves, he seems to reincarnate the marine animal.
Sapan was born on the zero latitude line, at the widest point on the Earth. His home is located a few steps from the beach, on the island of Fuvahmulah.
“We are surrounded by islands that rise like emerald-coloured gems encompassed by a ring of white sand.”
The Maldivian archipelago is one of the most heavenly visions that nature has given us. Navigating through these atolls, experiencing the contact with such a rich sea, is a unique privilege. That is why reaching zero latitude always gives one an emotion that is hard to describe. We find ourselves at the southernmost point of the Maldivian archipelago, where tourism has not yet taken root. In my travels, I always look for an element that acts as a bridge between me and the place where I am. Sapan really exists, and he is the person who took me by the hand and led me to explore the sea depths and get to know the islands that emerge from it.
Massimo Bicciato, photographer and traveller