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“we’ve got a live one!”

June 11, 2012

Malta: a Mediterranean island set just south of Italy, where even after a week there, I haven’t a clue what to make of it. With one language sounding much like the child of Arabic and Italian and the other my own native tongue, distinctly Roman architecture, Mediterranean cuisine, a coloring reminiscent of my week in Morocco, and a community that not only drives on the “wrong” side of the road, but careens around curves and down hills at record-breaking speeds, Malta has a quirkiness about it that leaves it impossible to classify.

the old capital city.

driving in malta took me back to the days when i first got my license.

st. julian’s.

maybe work wouldn’t be half bad if this was your view?

bikes, flowers, butterflies.

At certain moments, I felt ridiculously at home. The island boasts a party culture that is not unlike what one might expect to find on the beaches in Miami [think the setting of an MTV music video] and with a large percentage of the population speaking English, frequently as their first language, the nearly non-existent language barrier made for fluid friendships, if not also for more regrettable drunken conversations. Additionally, having been on the quest for the perfect Spanish playa, I was thrilled to find the idyllic beaches and seas surrounding Malta sometimes comparable to those in Panama and even the Caribbean islands, places I associate with comfort and familiarity.

crystal clear water. white sand. cliffs. yum.

goooooozoooooooooo.

gooooo-zoooooooooo.

jess verifying that it was a jellyfish-free day.

searching for fish…and handsome lifeguards.

ryan’s pub: this is where the magic happens. regrettably, no pictures were taken inside this bar, though if any did exist they would most definitely not be posted.

However, as comes with visiting any country outside of your own, there were also those moments where I couldn’t have felt more like a foreigner, despite my efforts to slip under the American Abroad radar. And with a map in hand, rainbow Nike sneakers on, snapping photos of any ordinary thing that fascinated me [on second thought it appears my efforts to blend in were relatively mild], I’m sure I painted quite a picture of Americanism that attracted the attention of those around me.

the star navigator.

cut-outs.

disappointing pink pastry.

all smiles on day one…and two…and three…and four and five.

missing julio.

My new Maltese friends were surprised to find that I enjoyed things like scuba diving, rock climbing, and solo travel, as apparently it is uncommon for Maltese women to partake in adventure sports or jet-set alone. I’m not sure I ever envisioned my divemaster certificate being put to use in impressing men, but that’s not to say it can’t serve a double purpose in wooing my male counterparts. I was scrutinized as I chopped fresh fruit for my cereal—“Shhh! Look! She’s doing something American”—questioned about my peculiar vegetarian habits and fanny packs, and was often observed with curiosity and confusion, like a unicorn might be at the zoo, as the Bananagrams tiles scattered across every flat surface I encountered clicking and clacking in even the quietest of cafes. I attempted to counter my very “American” behavior by drinking the local beer and eating pastizzis, though I’m not sure anyone was fooled. I suppose it worked in my favor that I’m a fan of both unicorns and attention.

gozo meets bananagrams.

bananagrams and hot chocolate always bring smiles.

defeated. i swear we didn’t spend five days playing this game.

subliminal messages in the sand? don’t ignore signals from the universe.

suckering the boys into playing. what a bunch of bananas.

tom doing something “american”.

the crew of gentlemen. backside.

My focal draws to Malta were Tom and Sean, friends who I met at Africa Extrem Surf Camp in Taghazout, Morocco, as well as an impressive dive culture, though I can’t say what I had heard about the beaches and party scene were disincentives. I lived like a local, staying with Tom’s family who welcomed me into their home and allowed me to share in some incredible meals and conversation. [Made me miss you, mum and dad!] I can only hope my family has the opportunity to return the favor this coming Thanksgiving. Tom made claim on the day I left that he was glad to see me go, but I’m pretty confident he actually enjoyed having a not-so-pesky sister hanging around for a few days, even if he refused to admit it. Unfortunately due to wind and reduced visibility [and maybe an over indulgence in mojitos and vodka cranberries], the diving portion of the trip didn’t happen…but I guess that’s just one more reason to return this fall.

cappuccinos.

ferrying home from gozo.

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