Updated: Jul 19, 2019
A few days ago I hopped on the plane from Brussels to Malta with the intention of spending some good old offline time.
Truth be told, I'm no longer much of a fan of spending summers in the Maltese heat. I guess I have acclimatised myself to the erratic Belgian summers (it's around 20 degrees as I write this and we're expecting it to go up to 35+ in a couple of days; there's some rain mentioned too in between that). But enough about that ... I had planned the trip to Malta around my dentist's schedule to finish off some interventions we had started but beyond that, all I wanted to do was switch off and spend some real quality time with my nearest and dearest family and friends. Even if the trip had been scheduled well before I knew I would be going through this current crazy hectic period with the impending move from one side of Brussels to the other, it was the perfect excuse to have some proper down time. And I feel I really managed to achieve that.
I must say, despite the arid temperatures and dusty environment, the frustrated traffic and the loud conversations which I have probably become unaccustomed to after quite a few years abroad, all of which always make me resent the place just a bit ... this time I caught myself looking back fondly on the few days spent in Malta. Perhaps it's because besides my hometown of Sliema, I spent most of my stay in some of my favourite places on the island - Gharghur and Rabat and my former adoptive town of Valletta, the capital. Strolling around these towns, seeing remnants of past feasts or preparations for upcoming ones, at the peak of the Catholic village festa season, with fund-raising bingo games over a bottle of Cisk beer on a Sunday morning, munching on a hunk of hobz biz-zejt during the lunch break while the week's laundry is out to dry on the makeshift lines along the balcony ... it felt like a snapshot of the idyllic postcard island Malta could continue to be. Perhaps, knowing I may have seen some of these places for the last time as they make way for more development made it feel more special ...