A late spring trip to the Maltese archipelago at the end of may/ beginning of june.
Malta is a piece of confetti laid down in the Mediterranean sea, between Italy and Libya. Its geographic location, right in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, has given it a highly strategic importance resulting in endless wars throughout the centuries; a very dear tiny piece of rock at a maritime crossroads between the East, the west, the south and the north of the ” Mare Internum”.
Malta was (is) mostly a resisting point for Christianity ( against the muslim Ottoman Empire once, now more than aware of the troublesome Middle East and the African neighborhood ) and for commerce with the occidental and the north -African parts ( Lybia, Tunisia, Egypt) in the Mediterranean world. Malta holds a real geostrategic and sensitive political location without mentioning the arrival of too many illegal migrants from Africa.
Tackling this post on Malta was a bit of a dilemma for me. I didn’t really enjoy the place and failed to get a grasp on any of its so commonly accepted magic. Why?
1- Too dry, no trees to ease up the heat and help produce water. Trees have disappeared from the island of Malta to build ships in the old days and to build tourist resorts nowadays. Let’s read what a lady from Malta writes about the lack of trees: “What makes Malta unique though is that almost all our residential areas, whether wealthy or less so, are generally surprisingly devoid of trees”, by Marisa Micaleff
2- Rugged landscapes which don’t attract me at all, even if I can understand some people love that sort of scenery. A mediterranean landscape without olive trees and real agriculture ( just some attempts at tiny dry patches of vegetables garden) makes me feel a bit concerned about the well-being of its inhabitants. They must probably import all their food. Sicily is not that far but … what about their food self-sufficiency?
3- The lack of drinkable water from the tap and in the magnificent fountains you can see in the villages. They have become bins where people throw their rubbish.
4- Their roads! My, my! What a disaster! Shall I say potholes instead of roads ( except near the capital or along some coastal roads which have been built to help with the heavy traffic). We intended to rent a car ( driving on the left wasn’t a problem for us, being used to it) but we were warned the traffic regulations were optional for the Maltese drivers and they are! We visited the island on local buses and I am glad we did so. We already survived the Sicilian drivers and didn’t want to put our lives in jeopardy. Local buses- even crowded- were perfect, even if you were never sure they will be there on time ( we waited 1 hour and a half once! the bus never turned up!).
5- Too many tourists on such a tiny space! I don’t dare to think what it is like when summer is in full swing.
…”Our tiny, overpopulated, traffic-congested country is already aesthetically being ruined by over-development, an inadequate road network, lack of civic pride in a large section of our population that cares very little about keeping the island clean, and lack of enforcement of perfectly sensible regulation”, writes John Cassar White, in the Times of Malta in March 2017. I absolutely agree with him.
6- In big hotels, the staff is not Maltese but comes from all over the world. The hotel we stayed at the servers and cleaners were hired by a Polish agency and paid peanuts. They lived outside the hotel in crowded digs. They came from India, the Philipines and goodness knows where from. How do I know it? Just because I am genuinely interested in people. The people responsible of the hotel resented the fact that these young guys serving us talked to the customers. They were spied upon. Most of the time, tourists don’t give a damn 😦
But, there are also some positive points to Malta, its capital for instance and some places in Gozo.
To be continued …