This morning I took more public buses to reach the south side of Malta, and yes, all of the bus drivers are speed demons; this explains the many ‘Speed Kills’ signs along the byways. That said, I have not seen one crash nor heard one siren since I’ve been here, and only the rare honk.
The bus lines, of course, travel through residential neighborhoods with all their charms and peculiarities; it was a feast for the eyes. Here’s a sign I don’t see every day in Hawaii: “Graduation togas for hire.”
I went to the south to walk the coast line, reputed to be spectacular, and proven so today. In some places I could see two sides of the island. The 11 km walk, however, illustrates perfectly the ‘1000 joys, 1000 sorrows’ of life: the walk began and progressed along paths and little-used farm roads, passing Bronze Age settlements and pastoral lands; then, it took me along a main road past a quarry and its hundreds of gargantuan trucks charging along and generating clouds of rock dust. I, foolishly, tried to capture the chaos in photos, and suddenly saw a man in a small car gesturing angrily and yelling at me, I assumed, for blocking his passage, but no, in truth he was telling me to get in his car so he could whisk me to safety! He was kind and took me safely to Hagar Qui and Mnajdra, ancient temple sites, and gave me good advice about the visit. Afterwards, as I left the area, suddenly my rescuer appeared again and offered another ride. Coincidence or not, I don’t know, but he showed me some lovely spots for photos, including a stop where a falconer stationed his birds for photo opts. I recently read and loved Hawk, by Helen MacDonald, so I was completely thrilled to hold one of his birds!
Afterwards I returned to Birgu, where a festival is ongoing (the band is currently covering ‘Sweet Home Alabama’!) On the way to the same restaurant I ate at last night, I heard the church bells going off at the 3/4 hour as they are wont to do around here, and I passed a door where a man was actually pulling the ropes to ring the bells! He saw the look of joyful discovery on my face, and invited me in to pull the ropes and ring the church bells for the entire parish!! This officially turned this into a stellar day. I arrived at the restaurant moments later still high, and gushing, told the staff of my experience, earning the nickname ‘Bell Woman’ from them, which I will cherish. The meal, porcini ravioli, was utterly dreamy, as was the dessert of lovely Maltese sweets. The host also brought me a complimentary glass of cactus pear liqueur to round out the meal.
I need to have more days like this.
Here are some photos, including Malta’s Finest:
Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.