Disclaimer: if you’re one of the people who took offence to ‘that post’ or you have a habit of skim reading, please note:
1) this post is written with affection for Malta and the term 20 crazy things about Malta should be taken with a pinch of salt as I had to pick a short snappy title
2) I choose my words respectfully and carefully when writing…so if you intend to comment I request that you do the same
3) if you think this post is meant to insult, it’s a good idea to come back hereand reread this bit.
So….it’s that time of year again. The time of year when I suddenly realise marks yet another anniversary of my arrival in Malta
(which I have written about previously from different angles in Should I Stay and Home is Where). A time of year when my disbelief at still living on ‘the rock’, is at its greatest. Yes, this 9th October was eleven years since I left loving family, interminable traffic, the vibrant culture and the relentlessly grey clouds of the UK (sorry but that’s usually the first thing that strikes me when I land at Heathrow) for the endlessly sunny blue skies, bumpy roads, simpler lifestyle and 1970’s supermarkets of a country I couldn’t even point out on a world map.
I actually forgot today was the exact date (despite spending the last two months telling people I’d lived here almost eleven years) until I bumped into a couple of friends on the beach (both of them expats).
One of them told me about a woman who has given up trying to make a happy life here as she has found the adjustment too hard for various reasons
which I won’t go into here as this post is not about bashing Malta as already explained at the start. I got to thinking about the number of people I’ve known who left the island for the same reasons as this woman and I couldn’t help wondering why we have stayed for nine years longer than we planned (!) and what we like about it. Inevitably, I also thought about some of the unusual stuff you see here. I think our longevity in Malta has been partly due to our capacity to endure the rough with the smooth, partly our ability to just have a good laugh at the daft bits and mainly our steadfast refusal to go back to the blooming rain and high prices we left!
Anyway, I can’t let a Malta anniversary go by without writing something. So after the hard-hitting but honest Dear Malta You’re Breaking my Heart and the pensive How Has it Come to This?
I think it’s time I take a light-hearted look at life on the rock based on my experience.
There is so much I’ve got used to (admittedly a lot of it reluctantly) over the last 11 years to the point where I often don’t realise, until guests come over and express total shock at this that, just how much of the Mediterranean madness has become second nature to me! If you had told me 11 years ago that I would find ANY of the following ‘normal’, I would have thought you were out of your mind. Here is my list of 20 Crazy Things About Malta that I never in a million years believed I’d actually do myself or get used to (and yes the original list was longer but I narrowed it down for everyone’s sake because sometimes Netflix is more important). Oh and er…remember the disclaimer.
I never thought I would:
‘1. Go to a new furniture store..not because I need furniture…but because it’s a day out. (I think I just blushed.)
2. Get stuck behind a lorry/rubbish truck/car driver who has not broken down but is merely chatting to someone they’ve seen on the pavement…and that I would just sit there…without getting out the car or hooting in good old 1990’s road rage style (must be going soft in my old age).
3. Get used to the sound of fireworks. Every day. For three months.
4. Ask at a grocery store if I can just leave the money for my one item instead of waiting behind that woman with the large trolley. I’d NEVER do that in the UK for fear of getting lynched.
5. Read a headline in the local paper about a sulky driver, think “Oh my God what a rude way to describe that poor driver” before realising they meant the driver of a vehicle known as a sulky…not that the driver of a car was in a bad mood.
6. Say ‘I’m ready” when I mean “I’ve finished”. This is quite possibly the biggest surprise of them all considering how I wanted to Rip. My. Own. Ears. Off. every time I heard someone say this the first few years here.
7. Go to Lidl! Never mind the blooming furniture store. Ruddy hell, I never thought I’d go to Lidl. (Gold star to those of you who follow my Facebook page and have just worked out this is what I refer to as ‘the shop that shall not be named’.)
8. Complain about the traffic…when there are in fact only twelve cars in front of me. Talking of which:
I also never expected to hear a radio DJ guess the state of play on the roads because his particular radio station does not have an official traffic update service (in the form of helicopters with reporters hired to provide actual real time info). This happened about two weeks ago and I almost had to park up, I was laughing so much. He just hypothesised about how many cars may or may not be on the roads and which areas may or may not have traffic. Funniest thing I’ve heard in ages.
9. Feel perfectly comfortable walking down the street in a sarong and flip flops behind three barely-dressed children (my kids, not some randoms).
10. Accept it when a cafe only offers ham and cheese sandwiches or cheese and ham sandwiches or cheese sandwiches or ham sandwiches.
11. Park on double yellow lines (sssssshhhhhhh).
12. Get charged 2.50 euros for a cappuccino and think ‘ooh that’s expensive’. I mean it’s twice that in my home town!
13. Avoid enrolling my children in a particular sport because the location is a whopping 15 minute drive. You really do have to live here to get that one!!
14. Sing high praise for the excellent customer service and wonderfully friendly staff at such and such a place…when actually all they did was say please and thank you and serve me within ten minutes of walking in, you know, their job.
15. Leave my car key with a total stranger instead of waiting for a space in a car park and taking my key with me.
16. Go into raptures over an ‘amazing new’ cafe/hotel/shop, baffling a guest visiting from abroad who looks at me as if every brain cell has fallen out of my skull because in actual fact said cafe/hotel/shop is nothing special and I’ve simply lowered my expectations.
17. Have the following exchange (more than once)
Me: “Please can I have still water?”
Waiter: “Yes, still or sparkling?”
and not want to scream.
18. Pay 4 euros for a tiny broccoli head. I mean actually pay it. Without asking if it was grown in gold soil. And leave with my broccoli. Without whispering a breath of complaint. Or sarcasm. Never thought I’d see the day…miracle.
20. Not be in the slightest bit surprised at returning to a local beach restaurant, months after a visiting friend fell off the back verandah due to inadequate safety standards (breaking her leg and requiring surgery) only to see that NOTHING has been done to erect a protective railing since then. Shame on you Las Palmas. [Clearly this is one not-at-all-funny point in this list.]
As I finish writing this at 11pm, someone is sitting in a car hooting their horn instead of getting out and ringing the doorbell of the person they’re visiting…and all my lights have gone out.
Well it is in the Mediterranean Darling!