Wednesday, October 7, 2009

travels thus far: stop #1 Malta

Dear friends and family,
I am now going to be more diligent on updating my blog since I am now beginning to feel at home here in Rome.
Before I arrived in Rome I had the chance to travel to Malta and explore Tuscany and Cinque Terre in the province of Liguria. First off I travelled to Malta where I spent 10 amazing days with my sister Anya and her husband David. Malta is a very interesting place. It is truly Mediterranean: full of bright colours especially the buses and boats, the brown backs of fishermen, deep blue sea, rocky cliffs, sailboats set against the hot sun, and crazy drivers. The one thing I noticed was the Arabic feel Malta has. I made sure not to tell this to a Maltese because they do not like to be associated with Arabs. The whiteness and bleakness of the stone buildings with no green grass in sight made me feel like I was in Arabia.The culture here is very religious. Every bus has a religious image in it and people make sure to cross themselves when they enter a bus (I don't blame them with the way the bus drivers here drive!). I was able to take part in a "small" feast day celebration for St. Gregory the Great, which entailed a huge procession with a canopy, confetti, a band, and of course an enormous statue of St. Gregory throughout the streets. It was very impressive how many people filled the church and passionatly prayed and sang. The people of Malta matched what the gospel says about how they welcomed St. Paul who was shipwrecked here. The spirituality though may be more cultural than meaningful to the people now, but it is definitely present. I travelled to the island of Gozo (about 30 minutes at the most; reminded me of the ferry to Bowen Island). So when you think of Malta you automatically think of hot sun right? Well, so did I. But, maybe since I kept calling the Mediterranean Sea the 'Ocean' it cursed my Vancouver blood and sent rain to this desert Island! It was pretty hilarious watching people react to the rain. Nobody here really knew what to do. It was raining pretty hard and went on for at least 2 days (not constantly of course... that's reserved for Vancouver). Anya and I had to resort to buying an umbrella which was very hand in deed. So the two of ventured into the rain, not letting it dampen our spirits and took in the beauty of Gozo in the grey cloudy weather. It was still beautiful even though the earth stuck to our sandals and the wind almost stole our umbrellas. I forgot to mention that when we arrived on the evening ferry we went for dinner (which we didn't recieve until 11pm...really terrible service), and then Anya and I camped on the beach that night. It was wonderful! We had a really great sister to sister talk and woke up the the Mediterranean Sea lying before us, a beach comber scouring the sands, and some strange men who turned out to be garbage collectors not a gang of ruffians hunting goat or something like that. Some other adventures I did while I was here in Malta was going to Mdina, an ancient city up on a hill overlooking all of Malta. Anya and I took a train ride around the town passing by cactus plants, some catacombs (really cool, too bad I never got a chance to visit them), and some historical churches. Another very beautiful place I visited was the Blue Lagoon which is on the little island of Comino. The water was definitely blue as can be and my sensitive blue eyes just couldn't handle the beauty and the hot sun. It was a highlight of the trip for sure. I wanted to overcome my fear of scuba diving and was going to go but in the end I didn't have time to fit it in. Now that means I will have to go back to visit and make sure I go diving this time. I am very glad that I visited Malta and spent time with my sister; I don't think I could ever live there like she is...I need some green space or a hill or something like that.

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