Very often, on our quest to see what the rest of the world has to offer, we tend not to see the good there is, right in front of our eyes.
Sometimes it’s because we fail to stop and reflect. We look but we don’t really see. And when the good is unchanged, day in, day out, it somehow ceases to exist. It’s just another rock, another beach, the sun. It almost becomes mediocre. Mundane. Imagine though, if all that is beautiful simply disappears. If we slept beneath skies without stars or if the waves lapped the beaches, soundlessly. Suddenly, the mediocre, the mundane becomes otherworldly because we don’t have it anymore and we crave what we do not have . We miss it when it is too late.
I don’t want to try to convince anyone of anything. Some people have their reasons to dislike their home and yearn to be somewhere else. No one should be in a position to judge. And I honestly don’t see everything through a rosy lens (well, maybe just a little). No, this post is dedicated to all those who already have their eyes wide open, who see and appreciate without having to be told to do so. I’m sure you’ll find a point or two you can concur with. Here’s my humble and largely incomplete list.
THE PERKS OF LIVING IN MALTA.
1. You cannot go wrong with a country where the sun shines almost every day. It is statistically proven that people coming from sunny countries are happier. And numbers never lie.
2. Malta is an island, blessed by more beaches than I care count. It is also tiny. At just over 27km in length, the beach is either right at your door or a ten minute ride away. The saying ‘the road to a friend’s house is never long’ takes on a whole new meaning too.
3. Lying smack in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea means we were born and raised with a number of defining qualities. One of them is the laid-back attitude and the “I’ll try again later. After a siesta” mentality. We tend to take things slowly. Over a chilled beer. With our feet up. We also know how to have fun wherever we are. If you you know what I mean. When the drinks are out and the music is good, we party like few other.
4. Another defining quality is the FOOD. Yes, it’s in capitals because on our little island FOOD is divinity. Not only because we are ravenous eaters, but because the food is good. The produce is rich and natural. And the traditional cooking methods, the old recipes, have been handed down for generations. Some of the best restaurants on the island will still cook octopus or rabbit or lampuki pie the way your nanna would have. I invite you to walk along the oldest parts of our towns on a Sunday morning. The smell wafting from the windows is sure to get your mouth watering. Its godly status is truly well deserved.
5. Wherever you go on the island, at some point or another you will feel like you have just stepped back in time. The old and the new cohabit like different threads in a beautiful tapestry. The history oozes out of niches and churches in Mdina, out of small winding streets and entire prehistoric temples. It is so rich, it is truly overwhelming. Just ask 13 year old me, trying to fit in as many dates of conquests and names of civilisations and endless important figures who left their mark somewhere. I still shudder at the thought. Priceless, but scary to pin down.
6. For a country so tiny, it is still bursting with opportunities. Whatever talent you might wish to develop, you will find ways to emerge and an audience to entertain. Granted, the audience is small but it is the perfect starting point, big enough to build confidence but not staggering. The perfect spring board to the moon.
7. I don’t like generalising too much. Saying that a whole nation is inhabited by friendly and warm people is a little too much (National Elections or football rivalry kind of dims this allure). I would say the Maltese are very welcoming. In little villages along the southern coast, people leave their house doors open, just in case their neighbour drops by with fresh goat cheese or the baker is doing his round (FOODporn all the way). They are also highly protective of their country not so much in how they portray it with their actions but in how they get defensive, claws extended if an outsider dares to show Malta or the Maltese in a bad light. They remind me of a lioness and her cub. No one messes with the baby (echoes of, We are Maltese, we take no s**t, anyone?). And I think that is a beautiful thing. You only take pride in the things you love.
8. Sunsets at Golden Bay. Or sunrise at the Grand Harbour. I swear I get emotional whenever I’m lucky to witness one or the other. It is truly magnificent. The embodiment of ‘the best things in life are free’.
9. I cannot complete this list without mention of sister islands Gozo and Comino. I adore Gozo. I love how the small village squares are so taken care of, how the doors and traditional balconies are still painted in vivid colours. Gozo, especially in the small outlying towns, lives a much quieter life. there is no bustle except in the main town Victoria, where traffic congregates and then slowly disperses through roads cutting through green fields. And the ferry ride to get there is half the fun. Comino is largely uninhabited but the sea which surrounds it is truly something out of this world. It’s like diving somewhere tropical, the Maldives or Mauritius. Only it’s in my backyard.
10. Malta is HOME. It’s family and friends and stability and fun and love and hazy drunken memories and warm recollections of beautiful moments. This is Malta to me. Travel is a beautiful thing but I have always been told that there’s no place like home. And it’s true. With a home like this, I honestly feel very, very lucky.
Should you too wish a taste of home, make sure you make use of the Maltese national airlines. Start off the Maltese experience, 35,000 feet up in the air with Air Malta.