This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.
I “oohed” and “aahed” at the temples in Tarxian, and now I headed in what I hoped was the right direction toward the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. I know I write a lot about getting lost, but this was the worst. As I wrote in a previous post, all the buildings in Malta look similar. It was raining, so people were walking with their heads down under umbrellas and it would have been hard to get their attention to ask directions. Although English is the official language, for the Maltese people I met it was clearly a second language.
I asked a woman in a pharmacy and she haltingly directed me to a city bus stop. I stood there a few minutes, thinking I could just give up on seeing more of the country and go back to Valetta. But which direction was Valetta? I struck out again was soon panicking. What if I never found the bus stop? What if I had to spend the night in Tarxian? I hadn’t seen any B&Bs or even a downtown area. Could I take a taxi back to Valetta, if they had taxis? My umbrella blew inside out and splattered me with rain just as a truck drove by and splashed water from a puddle all over my feet and legs. I started to whimper, then told myself, “Anne, buck up! It’s not like you’re going to die … probably.”
I went into a tiny store and asked the man at the counter if he knew where GymStars was, the landmark I had noted at the bus stop. He knew it! He gave me clear directions and within 10 minutes I was on the bus. But first I bought this orange at a fruit stand. Look how beautifully wrapped it is.
We were off to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. I love that name. Like the Maltese people, their language reflects the mix of cultures that have passed through or ruled the archipelago. Maltese is the only Semitic language in the EU, and it’s a “latinized form of Arabic” that originated in Sicily. About half the words are of Arabic origin, a third are from Italian, and the rest are from English. Here’s a sample of Maltese:
As soon as I stepped off the bus in Marsaxlokk I felt at peace. I took more photos here than I can count, but here are just a few of the boats in the bay.
I decided I didn’t care about anything else on the bus route. I was going to savor my time here. It started to rain again, hard, and my umbrella heaved inside out then totally collapsed. I thrust it into a trash can and stepped into what I assumed from its massive size was a cathedral, although the village couldn’t have had more than a few thousands residents. Here’s the dome:
I could hear water dripping from the dome; there was a bucket in the aisle to catch it. The church had the usual icons such as this one with Mary with a dagger in her heart:
I guess a lot of believers find this inspiring. Personally I prefer female role models who aren’t martyrs.
An elderly man and woman were sitting in the back of the church chatting. I asked what the name of the church was.
“Our Lady of Pompeii,” came the reply.
“Yes, but Our Lady is gone for the month. She is visiting Sorrento, Italy.”
I walked into a restaurant and was seated at a table facing a TV that was blaring, “Donald Trump … next American President … President Elect Trump ….” I buried my face in my hands. It was still sinking in, and as I write this, he has just been inaugurated and it still seems unreal. If only someone would jump out right now and yell, “Ha ha, pranked ya!”
The hostess very kindly and discreetly changed the channel to music videos.
I had a good fish meal (the boats weren’t just for show), then took the bus back to Valetta.
Here was my last sight of Marsaxlokk: