The part-time writer is back, and she’s part-time tanned too *grin*. After 9 solid years of Scottish climate, it was simply divine to be back in the Med, with those gorgeous clear, blue skies and constant warmth. Lovely Boyfriend and I had the most fantastic time and I plan to blog about our holiday this week. But, because this is me, I’ll be drawing some mental health conclusions into my ramblings.
First off, I must apologise to all Gozitans for having told everyone I was going to Malta for my holiday. I did NOT. I flew to Malta airport and I visited Valetta, the capital city, on a day trip, but I went on holiday to Gozo.
What’s the difference? Well, it’s like saying you came to England on holiday and stayed in Edinburgh. I’ve heard many people say Scotland is “just” the top bit of England, even part of it. It’s not and it gets my goat every time. I’m Scottish and proud of it, and our culture and heritage is entirely separate from that of England. It’s the same with Gozo and Malta.
Gozo might be geographically close to Malta, and they all speak official Maltese, but there are variations. It would be like a Geordie from Newcastle holding a conversation with a Weegie from Glasgow. Most of the words would make vague sense, but accents and local dialect would get in the way. Gozitans and Maltese are like that. Many Maltese have disparaging views of their Gozitan cousins. A work colleague of Lovely Boyfriend described Gozitans as hairy, bare-foot farmer boys (or words to that effect), and the Gozitans view their Maltese cousins as over-commercialised and rude, too busy for manners.
I tend to agree with the Gozitans. Perhaps our day in Malta was coloured by the fact we ended up spending nearly 4 hours on the bus (in order to travel 40km from one end of the island to the other, and back again, missing our ferry by 5 minutes thanks to an AWOL bus-driver and having to wait over an hour for the next one). Or perhaps it was coloured by the over-priced exhibitions. Or the incredibly rude woman working in one of those exhibitions. Or the Maltese tour guide we overheard in Gozo, slagging off the locals when things weren’t being done to her liking.
Whatever, Gozo has its own special identity and should be considered separately from Malta. If you’re after a quiet holiday, with easy access to lots of quiet little villages; where you can travel over the entire island in the space of a day and feel comfortable with your surroundings, then Gozo is for you. We stayed a week and saw a large amount of what there is to see, but we certainly didn’t see everything. Gozo shouldn’t be written off as an island you can view on a single day trip (as many tourists do).
Now for the mental health tie-in. Identity.
We met up with two brothers, more work colleagues of Lovely Boyfriend. Manwell and Joseph (I don’t normally use full names, but half the population is called Manwell, the other half Joseph!) showed us parts of the island tourists wouldn’t normally get to see (thanks to the roads – more on them later in the week!), took us around their local church and welcomed us into their family home. Throughout that afternoon, all we heard and saw was immense pride in their island. Immense pride in who they were and what they did. They knew their life wasn’t glamorous, indeed they work hard on the family farm in their time “off” working on the oil rig. But they were proud of that. It didn’t matter to them that their island was small, or how they were viewed by their Maltese cousins. It was their way of life and they loved it. They wouldn’t change a thing.
How many of us can say the same thing?