Don’t peek! Do you know where Malta is?
Malta is an island in the Mediterranean roughly south of Sicily and about the size of Manhattan and Brooklyn pushed together. One could comfortably cycle from one end to the other in a day, however, you’d have to contend for road space. The Maltese are not sleepy-eyed southern Europeans. They drive like demons. Think swarming Vespas in Paris, not donkey carts on Innishmore. Still, they’re friendly demons, smiling and waiving as they zoom along. They gave us road space.
Perhaps they’re trying to outrun the past. It’s everywhere. There are derelict crusaders’ stoneworks, mysterious sandstone castles, untended terraced gardens, and churches of obvious antiquity. Some ruins are of more recent origin. Malta was heavily bombed in WWII.
The port city of Valletta is busily polishing itself for designation as a European City of Culture in 2018. It won’t require much. The beaches are clean, the harbors dotted with colorful fishing boats. The people are friendly. A small open market features local handicrafts, lace fans and parasols, and fresh fruit. I am charmed by it all, but take only memories.
Across the street, sidewalk cafes and restaurants beckon, inviting me to stop for a glass of wine and some tapas. I know they’ll have mussels, my favorite. Their siren call tells me I don’t really have anywhere that important to go. I could stay awhile. However, Ms Von B is restless and I am curious. Our ship leaves tomorrow morning. We roll on.
A grafitto sprayed on a ruined fortification shouts ‘Defend Your Right To Immigrate.’ For myself, I’d rather linger. Malta is a nice corner of the world.