XIV: Maltese Falcons

Sicily is now just a memory, from the elegant sensibilities of a Taorminan street, to the peculiar taste of a horse-meat kebab, it is now all 6o k away to the north across the scintillatingly blue Med.  Far too far to swim, so it looks like I´ll be staying here for a while now. Me & the lass were met off the boat by Glenda´s mad Spanish mate, who just happens to be the biggest mdma dealer on the island – in layman’s terms that means lots of partying mixed up with losing your stash, then finding it again the next day in a rare moment of clarity. Me & Glenda both feel like we’ve been picked up by a hurricane and spun right out of our mellow island headstate. It’s definitely been a more interesting way to arrive on the island, & we have taken in quite a lot already, from crazy raving in the Ibiza-style Paceville to hob-nobbing with the Minister for Culture at an art exhibition in the fabulously fortified city of Valetta (with free wine & caviar).  The capital is a wonderful piece of European architecture, built by the Knights of Saint John after they successfully defended the islands from the Turks five centuries ago. We also took a trip to Mdina, possibly the oldest long-running settlement in the world, where we proceeded to drink this Maltese nobleman´s wine cellar dry!

Malta is a fascinating place, reeking in history from the various owners it has had to put up with, from Napoleon to the famous Knights Hospitallers. In contrast, the area we have been staying in for the past few days is like Benidorm – English bars, breakfasts & newspapers, peopled by pale, plump, saggy-jowell’d fogies. It is rather nice, tho,’ with sun & sea soothing the atmosphere. We have decided to stay in Malta for at least a month or two, & a couple of day’s house-hunting we have finally plumped for a two week stay in a seaside apartment on the sister-island of Gozo, a twenty minute cruise from Malta. We are paying about 55 pounds a week – not too bad – & there is a big festival happening on the island next week. To top it off, Gozo is the legendary home of Calypso, the nypmh who kept Odysseus captive on his return from Troy. Co-incidentally enough, that’s just the chapter I have reached as I read the epic poem, the Odyssey. After all that stuff Samuel Butler wrote about Marettimo being the Ithaca of Homer, my interest was very much piqued, & I got the book sent from my library in England to Sicily, which I am now studying with interest. The topic of whether Homer’s islands were based on real islands has raged for centuries, recently being raised again with the discovery that Cefalonia was once two islands divided by a channel, fitting in with Homer’s description of Ithica. It is all terribly exciting & one feels something like a literary Indiana Jones!

9 / 02 / 06


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