Only four days to take Malta’s temperature. This island country has always made me curious: just under my Italy, but hardly Italian?
For the first time, I look at a map of the island and I discover a strange language, at the limit of pronounce ability: Marsaxloxx, Il-Mdina, Ghajn Tuffieha… it sounds a bit alien, like the subway stops in Taipei, in pinyin. Nice to meet you, I am!
Drawing parallels is like part of my coping strategy since I’ve made life a long journey. And it is when I am unable to do so that I rejoice! Boom, a new atmosphere, an unknown rhythm, a scent like nothing else, a flavour that will forever be part of my nostalgia… Until my next, who knows, visit?
When will we meet again? Never take anything for granted. So, at every turn, a faded sign, a play of light or a market stall will take the shape they should always have had: a surprise, a little pleasure.
In Malta, the exercise is simple: would someone have set the perfect backdrop for an impromptu hunt? When I arrive in Valletta, I am seduced by the soft yellow of the limestone rock, by the almost calculated contrast of its windows overlooking the sea. It’s hard not to exult at the sight of its façades, arranged in a way that is, let’s say, timeless.
Measuring the passing time: of its fortifications, of its hanging gardens with a view. How many sunsets have we seen from here?
But it was in Birgu (Città Vittoriosa) that I had my biggest crush. It was born in the act of crossing the bay on a gondola, with the simple idea of taking to sea for a few minutes.
Oh, the salt on my fingers! I missed the sea. I still miss the sea, but sometimes I forget it, as one would forget an old love. And then it touches you, at the bend in the road, and memories come flooding in. The sea never really lets itself go. So when it comes back into your life, you just take it.
In Birgu, if it weren’t for the plants that are left everywhere and the (very) occasional passer-by, I would have thought I was in a sleepy town. It is a beautiful adornment for her first kiss, obviously.
At the bend of a pile of greenery like an English garden, but from the street, I can hear a Maltese man telling me about his islands:
“We are a nation of flags and colours and fireworks!
There is, on this small country between the waves, a placid pride, a Mediterranean welcome (read: inviting, warm, abundant), a mixture of cultures that is difficult to grasp simply because it looks like nothing else: it is Malta.
And if Italian food is served in abundance at the tables, can it be made into a whole dish? Because who doesn’t like to eat Italian? It is especially, when you are so close to it. In four days, I’ve quietly done without, but living here, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t let myself be tempted.
In a final impulse, I ended up crossing the main island, whereas I was going to concentrate my discovery around Valletta. I wanted to capture a bit of the hinterland and, above all, kiss my sea friend. It only took me an hour and a half on a slightly bumpy bus. I landed in Ghajn Tuffieha, a bay just as I like it: wild. A playground that stretches beyond swimming, it is a pleasant smell of salt, deep in the nostrils.
Arriving at the top of the hill, I spot a young man who doesn’t fit in with the landscape at all. Winner, he works here, but is not from here. He likes to climb up there to change the air. He offers me his company with gallantry. I decline: “Thank you, but I have to go say hello to my Valletta, because I don’t know if and when I’ll be able to see her again. »
We have one last coffee on her odd stairs, she shares with me one last volley of taste and sound from her home, and then she puts me in a taxi to the airport.