The week before had seen sunshine and wonderfully warm weather in the UK. Typical then that on the week me, the Parental Units and Bro flew out, the grey clouds had returned. But, whilst waiting for our flight at Manchester Airport, we saw the scarlet Sun rise from one bank of grey and fade into another….. As if it was on an elevator in the sky.
And off we flew to Malta then caught a ferry to Gozo.
Gozo is an island of mainly farmers, limestone houses and a laid-back and friendly demeanour. It also has history mixing of Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Christian (Knights of St. John), French, Sicilian much like the Maltese language.
It is also home to the Azure Window down at Dwerja near San Lawrenz. It is a limestone arch formed after two caves collapsed. Hurry and see it whilst you still can…. It only has another 1000 years or so before it collapses completely!
The second day we were there, we saw the horizon surrounded by a haze, being British we just took it for granted this was a cloudy morning that will surely be gone by the time the Sun is at its peak. Not so.
We were informed by an ex-pat resident that the haze was in fact sand being blown across from the Sahara Desert, I mean wow! And yes, after paying attention, you could see it settling on everything. Windows were closed and doors shut, but the shops, bars, cafe’s and restaurants whose doors were still open were forever sweeping and wiping tables down. “Have you seen the discarded wings dotted around?” Say what now?
It turns out, when the sand is blown across, the flying ants drop from the air and detach their wings in order to burrow into the ground. How cool is that? Not so cool when you’re spending an evening in a nice restaurant, trying the local dish of rabbit and you have ants dropping on to your table!
Sister Madly, if you ever read this, remind me to send you the recipe for Gozitan Rabbit!
Doing some research, I had found out that Gozo, is supposedly the island residence of the Nymph, Calypso. It is thought to be Ogygia, where Calypso kept Odysseus for seven years. At the falling of dusk and the waxing crescent moon in the sky, I offered my respects to the spirit of the land, even if it wasn’t Calypso. Either way, I didn’t feel any connection. The spirit of the land was either too alien for me to interpret, or it simply wasn’t interested in me giving libations, or…… It had given way to the Christian belief set of the Gozitan people.
And yet, there are tales of Giants! The main attraction for me were the Ggantija (Giant’s Grotto) Temples. They are supposedly 5800 years old, which makes them younger than Göbelki Teppe and older than both the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge. One local myth has it that they were built by a giant who had a child by a common man, she built the temples whilst carrying the baby and eating only black beans and flax. The smaller of the two temples was preserved quite well, it also supposedly had a groove made by metal before the rest of Humankind had discovered the revolutionary material. The larger one was surrounded by scaffolding and tourists.
We did nip across to Malta for one day, seeing the catacombs at Rabat and the ‘Silent City’ of Mdima. There are parts of this city where you could forget you are in the 21st Century.
The catacombs were quite humbling as they were dug into the rock, more than a few of them were for children, which brought to mind the reality of mortality.
There were a mixture of native, Roman (Pagan), Christian and Jewish, some were even credited to the Phoenicians.
My favourite moment? Standing on a cliff, the arid gravelly soil beneath me, the vibrant sea before me, the Azure Window to my left, down below. And an open blue sky holding aloft both the sun and the moon in the late afternoon.