The Odyssey: From the moment I met Malta we both knew it wasn’t going to work out

Some moves were romantic, others, pragmatic.

Rome never asked for my love because there was no need and Paris was a dream come true. Those were serious love affairs.

But when we sailed to Malta and met, after one long look, we both knew this relationship was doomed. To ride on such a high I was destinated to crash. Like Icarus I’d flown too close to the sun. Life had been too kind and then it became cruel. I discovered the dark shadows lurking within my spyche.

In Malta’s defense, Italy and France boasted such cultural extravagance, who could possibly compete; to be honest there was little suprise on either side. Throw in the loss of my mother and subsequent pathological grief I was in the wrong place at the worst time.

It’s not that Malta isn’t a beautiful holiday destination located in the middle of the Mediterranean, where Europeans often take their children to learn English, but to live there and work, no, this was a poorly conceived recipe. There was no alchemy, no serendipity not a moment of synchronicity.

Six years prior we had sailed across the Altantic. It was the type of voyage I viewed as a means to an end. It was not a dream come true for me – from front to finish – as it was for my partner. But their were dolphins and the stars and that immense moon. And we made it safely to the other side. Yet I’d been on a mission. I wanted to live in Europe and no longer be a tourist. I didn’t even know Malta existed and apparently some maps agreed with me.

Now it appeared my guy had enough affection for this island, this island without borders, for the both of us. It almost felt like spite. I would have divorced my state of mind at that time if i could have – but there I was – surrounded by water. Ship wrecked. I could hear the water gods laughing at me as if to say, “You sailed across the ocean and almost died and ended up here! ha!”

Still, I was there, and Malta could boast about 7,000 years of history, so it was time to learn about this strategic island located in the middle of the Mediterranean. They were located between Europe and the Middle East. So what of the Maltese with their Pheonician based language. East or West?

They were part of the EU and floated close enough to southern Italy, but they’re also close to Libya, where they share extraordinarily strong ties in business. However, at the end of the day, it’s safe to say they are distinctly Maltese. With enough pride to ride alongside the Campanilismo I had witnessed while living Loazzolo, in the region of Piemonte, Italia.

Campanilismo, this grand sense of pride, this immesely strong spirit, this deeply ingrained love of one’s land. This pride found in the Maltese was both extraodinarily annoying and infectious. It was time to learn a little bit abbout Malta.

Like their religion. Unlike the Italians, they wore their Catholicism in such heavy fashion it felt manufactured. As if too much gratitude towards St. Paul. Apparently he was ship wrecked on their island after being caught in a violent storm en route to Rome. Archeoplogists confirmed this happend in A.D. 60. The site of this supposed ship wreck was marked with a grand statue in a town called Valette which happens to be their capital. It should have been easier to believe; I too felt ship wrecked.

Eventually my skepticism wore off as I learned about Malta. I expored the Siculo-Norman period. I viisited two or three Renaissance towns and Baroque villages on display. I learned about Malta’s “Golden Age” when the Knights of St. John ruled the island, when the British introduced the neoclassical style seen at St. John’s Cathedral.

I learned how Berlusconi came to Malta to negotiate his first media deal. I heard how Kim Jong-il receieved his English language education at the University of Malta and how he’d been a guest of Don Mintoff, Malta’s former Prime Minister. I heard how Mintoff told the CIA to take their money and go elsewhere. That was really impressive because not many leaders carry that kind of nerve. Perhaps an advantage of defending yourself for 7,000 years. I wrote about the ‘social season’ in my book, “A European Odyssey; How a boxer’s daughter found grace”. The people could be as friendly as any tribe but I found it to be a deeply patriarchal state of mind.

Yes they are a proud people and no it was not the highlight of our nomadic odyssey, but it did give me the opportunity to watch up close how women were entering the work force when we domiciled on the island back in 2009. We may have lost a lot of money but my partner hired a lot of men, and women, and gave them new skillsets. They were moving forward and they were a keen member of the EU.

When my partner’s IT venture officially closed down I embraced my final task; to find a new home for MADI, our sailboat.

Fortuitiously, I found one located an hour from Venice, in a marina called Punto Faro in Lignano Sabbiadoro. It was full of Swiss, German and Italian boats; they had one slip available and we took it.

At last; success.

A dragonfly stops by while crossing the Adriatic

Published by baileyalexander

An American living in Piemonte. Sailed across the Atlantic aboard our 43 Nauticat in 2002 and spent over a decade living in Rome, Paris, Prague, Malta, Venice and Bucharest before settling in Piemonte, Italia.

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