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Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

It’s been three months since I’ve been working full-time in Malta, it’s gone so quickly and I think I’m finally starting to fit in a little bit.  I am past the imaginary finish line of the “probation period” and things have been going well, even though the only Maltese word that I can seem to remember is ‘Mella’ (of course).  Homie and I have come to the conclusion that the only reason that we can’t seem to memorize any of the Maltese language is because we don’t ‘have’ to.  English is spoken by 98% of everyone on the island, so we are able to communicate quite easily. 

All of my colleagues are Maltese, except for the owner who is Greek, and two others who are German.  I don’t get mad when I’m the only one in the room that can’t understand the conversation, I just feel isolated.  I tell myself that they are not talking Maltese around me because they don’t want me to know what they are talking about or that they are purposefully trying to exclude me, it is just that this is their language and when you let your guard down during the course of the day it is easy to slip into your native tongue.  At least that is what I hope they are doing!  But then there is another part of me that is annoyed and kind of hurt by it.  I know I  would not speak in a language in front of someone, let alone carry on a 20-minute conversation in front of that person, if they could not understand what I was saying.  I think it is really rude and insensitive, especially if that person was the only person who didn’t understand.  Just today we ordered take-away and most everyone was in the board room eating lunch and everyone was talking in Maltese.  I wanted to stand up and take my lunch to my desk where my iPod and the Internet were, but I didn’t.  I wish I could just politely say, “Could you speak in English please?” and I can not do that either for some reason.  I’m so afraid I’m going to offend someone, unintentionally, and I don’t ever want to create problems with my co-workers. 

In any situation in America, whether social, work-related or family and friends related, I’ve been a really down-to-earth, assertive and tell-it-like-it-is kind of gal and I’m not here.  That pisses me off too.  That I can’t be myself.  I have been popular and well-liked in all of my previous positions and I love  making people laugh. And it never fails, I inevitably become half of the office’s confident.  But I don’t see that ever happening here. 

Right before the Christmas break the people I sit with in a rather large room were all called into the board room for a short meeting.  We were told that because of reorganization and expansion purposes we were going to be switching offices.  Because part of my job includes recording instruction videos for our software, I was getting my own office.  I thought this was great for my work, because it does get noisy every now and then and I was wondering how I would manage.  But then it occurred to me that I will be segregated from my co-workers even further.  I am curious to see how it works out, sitting by myself has its advantages, but then I won’t have the opportunity to get to know the people I work with better.

Other than the language barrier things have been going well at work.  I’m finally understanding the software and have no problem finding the tools I need on the network to do my job.  I love the fact that I can walk to work and it is just a short 10 minute jaunt to and from.  The office atmosphere is relaxed and they have flex time, meaning that you can come in up to 10:30 a.m. and then leave at 7 p.m.  I have health insurance and direct deposit.  I have access to the Internet and freedom, meaning I am left to meet my deadlines without anyone looking over my shoulder, criticizing my work.  Then, I called in sick.

I was sick.  I had a terrible head cold.  In the States, I probably would have went into the office, but here, it just seemed like too much trouble and I didn’t want to give anyone my cold.  I emailed the HR gal and about a half hour later she called me at home.  She wished me well, told me to take care and said the Doctor would be by shortly.  Huh?  I said, “Doctor?”  She said, “Yes, the company will send a doctor to your flat.”  I said, “Will he call me first?” She said, “No, but he usually comes by in the early afternoon.”   A couple of hours later the phone rang and it was the doctor, he was lost.  I truly did not feel well, (thank God) and tried to give him instructions to our flat, but he lost patience with me and, well, he hung up on me.  Now I was thinking I really didn’t want to see a doctor who was angry with me.  So Homie, always coming to my rescue, offered to go and see if he could find him.  Of course he was successful and less than 10 minutes later I could see them on their way to the apartment. 

So he examined me and sure enough, I had a sinus infection that may possibly turn into bronchitis, so he wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic (I’m actually surprised that he didn’t ask for my Father’s signature…) and for ibuprofen.  As he was giving me all the instructions for the medication, the rude American that I am, I interrupted him and said, “Well, I can go back to work tomorrow, right?” It was a Thursday.  He looked at me with a worried look on his face and said, “Slow down!  You may want to take an extra day to recuperate and get back to normal before you go back to work!”  I just looked at Homie,  shrugged and said to the doctor, “Well, if you think it’s best.”   It was a great 4-day weekend.

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What a difference this Christmas is compared to last Christmas.  Last year at this time we spent a very lonely, but cozy Christmas in front of the computer with hot chocolate watching ‘A Christmas Story’, one of our favorite Christmas films, with no tree, no Christmas decorations, and no presents.  The only people we really knew were the bartenders at the Hard Rock and the sweet ladies who ran the little ‘Step-In’ store right by our flat.  We have come so far.

We’ve been at our same flat for a year and have managed to endear ourselves to our landlords and their adorable little girl who loves the American candy I have ready for her when we pay the rent.  We really don’t know any of our neighbors, but there has been quite a bit of moving in and moving out, so it is very difficult to try to get to know anyone.  We’ve had Maltese, Italian, French, English and Swedish neighbors, but we really never had the chance to get to know any of them.

We joined an Expat group in March and have made so many friends.  The group grows and thins and grows again.  Many will be friends for life,  and the boat trips to Comino and the Blue Lagoon was a great way to get to know everyone better.  The expats also meet on Friday nights at different pubs and venues and we love listening to everyone’s story about how they ended up on Malta.  Every story is unique and its amazing how your path ends up crossing with certain people.  We’ve experienced many different restaurants, learning many different  Maltese traditions and I love trying the local cuisine, even though I still haven’t had rabbit stew!  Homie knows exactly how many McDonald’s there are on the island, and we have finally figured out how to explain where we are located when we order food to be delivered. That act alone has probably saved our marriage. 

We’ve gotten to know the buses, and don’t mind taking them at all, except when the students are here in August and September, then forget trying to get on a bus between 7 and 10 p.m.  We love the Maltese busses and the way they are decked out with the Virgin Mary, reminders to pray and promises of forgiveness.  Sometimes you will see the older Maltese women genuflect before they get on and we can never tell if that is a good sign or a bad sign.  We know where to catch the bus if we want to go to Mdina, Birkirkara or Mosta.  One thing that has struck me is that most of the Maltese people who I have gotten to know really dislike taking the bus, they’ll drive even if it’s a 10-minute walk.  The island is approximately the size of Staten Island, but because there are so many cars and the roads are so congested, it can take over 45 minutes to an hour to drive to a location that would take you twenty minutes to walk to.  I walk to and from work everyday and I’m home sooner than most people can get through the next stoplight. 

We have found great spots to swim, we have figured out the neighborhood shortcuts and when we go for walks we almost always run into somebody we know.  We’ve been invited to many of our friend’s homes and have gotten to see many different types of abodes with traditional stone architecture as well as very modern and updated apartments.

I have a wonderful stylist that already knows exactly how to cut my hair, I’m joining a gym soon and Homie has a key to a local tennis club where he joined a league a few months ago.  We are getting to the point where it’s a necessity for each of us to have a mobile, and we will soon.  A great friend loaned us an older model and we bought a €10 sims card and a €5 pay as you go card,  and it lasted us nearly three weeks.  It’s not the greatest device to sms on, but it does the job.  I’ve now gone without a mobile for a little over a year and I am starting to miss having it.  Kind of bittersweet, a friend who is moving home to Canada (hate to see her go…!) is planning on selling me her little beauty when she leaves next month.

Homie has gotten his visa issues squared away finally and it has been a rough road, especially for him as he didn’t know whether he was going to be able to stay or have to go home for a couple of months.  I really thought I did my homework before we left the States, but on an island this small, they can make  their own rules. But it is sorted and we don’t have to worry about it any longer.

I guess you could say we’re established.  We left the States with very little money, big dreams and a will to make it happen.   We had a vision, and we made it a reality. (That vision included a tumble dryer, so I have a little work to do, although I have temporarily solved that issue…)  In a year’s time we are sitting pretty good and with nothing but great things on the horizon.  What’s exciting to me is that one day, Homie and I said, “Screw it.  Le’t just do it.”  And we did.  And here we are.  Happy as bloody hell!  Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.  Here’s to having a dream and then living it.

Merry Christmas to you all and may 2011 be every thing you dream it will be. ♥

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When Homie and I left the States a little over eight months ago, we dreamed of traveling all over Europe and knew that we would eventually make it to Tunisia, Africa as it is less than an hour’s plane ride away from Malta.  Since we needed to re-new our travel visas and were required to travel outside of the Schengen zone, Tunisia was our destination.  We just returned from an 5-day, all-inclusive vacation that served two purposes, we have a freshly stamped passport and we added another continent to our list of travels.

We were excited and just a little bit nervous because we had no idea what to expect.  When we told our friends in America that we were traveling to Africa, most immediately assumed that we were going on Safari!  This girl does not do Safari, she does all-inclusive hotels with a pool, a spa and room service.  Well, we never used room service, but we did see a live camel and he was only there to provide entertainment for the children lucky enough to get a ride.  We found out that we could book a two-day trip for a camel ride in the Sahara desert, stay at an African version of a bed and breakfast for less than €100 each.  Homie was very excited at this prospect, but luckily for me we didn’t have enough time and the camel ride would have to wait for another trip.  A camel ride in the Sahara?  Ummm, no thanks.  With my luck it would be like the time I went horse back riding and the saddle fell off the horse with me in it.  I don’t like riding live animals, they are so unpredictable and they have no brakes.

We arrived to the hotel late and just made the buffet before it closed down for the evening.  I don’t mean to be a complainer, but I really am not in to buffets, especially ones that don’t have the germ/sneeze/cough glass covering all the selections.  I was starving though, after traveling all day and my empty belly won out.  We walked in and the first thing I see is a cute little five-year old reaching into the olive tray with her hands and another woman picking apart a baklava desert with her fork.  Yum.  So I grabbed some roasted chicken (very hot so I knew that no child could have touched it with their dirty little fingers) and a jacket potato wrapped in foil and reminded myself to let it go, we were on vacation!

When the desk clerk told us that a bell hop would watch our luggage as we ate, we didn’t think she meant literally.  We wander back after Homie filled his plate three times (did I mention my husband loves all-you-can-eat buffets?) and the bell hop is still standing next to our luggage smiling as if he just won the lottery.  He took us up to our room and patiently explained all of the amenities and waited for a tip.  I had to nudge my darling husband who reached into his pocket to oblige and handed over three or four dinar coins, and as the bell hop was leaving I inquired about the air conditioning.  He stomped over to show me, then stomped out.  It wasn’t until the following day, when we exchanged more euro for dinar that we realized we gave him about .30!  We felt horrible!  We were able to make it up to him on the day we left.  He happened to be the one who put our luggage in the storage room because we had a seven hour wait for our shuttle to the airport. 

The hotel had two large swimming pools, a salt water pool and a pool just for the kids.  We quickly learned that in order to get a lounge chair with cushions you had to get out to the pool by 7 a.m. to claim your spot, leave your towel on your chair and then go to breakfast.  We just happened upon this information our first full day there because we were up really early wanting to explore the hotel grounds.  We got a lovely spot, under an umbrella and spent the whole day at the pool, and it was a good thing because it was nearly 100° and humid.  I knew we were in a Muslim country but I was not prepared for the traditional Muslim women’s bathing suit.  While I was in my bikini and still feeling the heat,  these Muslim women were covered from head to toe, (only showing face, hands and feet) in their bathing garb while their fat and hairy husbands were in a regular bathing suits and I couldn’t help but think how unfair it seemed.  Now, I know it is their belief and their religion, but it bothered me.  In all other respects, each Muslim family I observed acted just like any other family on vacation and I never saw any man treat any woman badly, subservient or rudely, so I just had another cocktail and let it go.

The second day we decided to check out the hotel’s beachfront offering and it was a completely different experience.  A beautiful sandy beach was just what we needed after weeks of laying on the rocks near the sea in Malta.  There were many vendors walking up and down the beach selling their wares and they never tell you how much anything costs.  You have to offer a price, then haggle as though your life depends on it.  They get insulted if you don’t haggle, as if what they have to offer you isn’t worth haggling over.  I thought I was good at it, but in reality I’m a wimp.  I know this because I bought a lovely ankle bracelet for six dinar and the lady next to me got it for four.  So on our last day we had time to souvenir shop and went to a little bazaar area to look around.  I found a beautiful Chanel knock-off bag that was only 24 dinar and I haggled for 20 dinar.  The shopkeeper went down to 22 and I demanded 20.  He wouldn’t go for it, so I started to walk away, assuming he would chase after me and give in, which happened when I bought a little harem outfit for our friend’s daughter.  He didn’t chase after me and all I have been thinking about since we returned is that damn Channel bag that I really wanted and was too cheap to pay 2 extra dinar for.  We’re talking the equivalent of 1 euro.  I’m just heartsick over it, and I console myself with the thought that he is probably just as mad that he didn’t sell the bag for 20 dinar.

After a little over two hours in the shuttle bus, we finally get to the airport in Tunis and we check in.  We are immediately told to follow a customs official into a room with our luggage.  He didn’t speak English and we don’t speak French or Arabic.  He shouted at me to open the suitcase and he went through everything, simply tore it apart.  When he was done he said, “Put it back!”, which I did.  Then he went through our backpacks.  All I could think about was this stupid show Homie and I always watch called ‘Banged Up Abroad’.  We weren’t the only ones, nearly every one on the shuttle had their bags searched as well.  Our backpacks were searched three more times and twice the customs officers asked me for my passport and ticket as we waited to board our flight that was delayed for over two hours.  Most of the passengers around us came to the conclusion that they were looking for someone, they were everywhere.  It was really kind of scary and I couldn’t wait to get on the plane!  We finally made it back to Malta at about 2:30 a.m. and it felt so good to feel like Malta is finally ‘home’.

~Peace~

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I can hardly believe it has been almost a month since my last entry in this online journal!  I finished my first project with my new company and am looking forward to starting something new.  It is so hard to adjust to the slower pace of life and to just “be”.  In every other position I have ever held, the work environment has been so fast-paced and deadline oriented that you hardly have a chance to catch your breath before another project is thrust upon you without a moment’s notice.  It really feels good to be part of the working force and I am very grateful to have found what appears to be the perfect fit for me.

May 1st we went on our first boat trip with other expats from all over the world. Not only did we get to see more of Malta by enjoying the picturesque views of Gozo and Comino, but we also had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the globe that are bound to be friends for life. We love hearing everyone’s stories about why they moved to Malta and how they came to be here. The boat trips are held all summer long, twice a month.  For only €15, you get six hours on the boat, plenty of time to swim and snorkel in three beautiful lagoons (pictures posted to your right!) and a complementary glass of wine. Everyone brings a dish to share, (about 20 people in all…) and a bottle of wine to share.  The experience is relaxing and it’s so much fun to be on the water that we plan to attend as many as we can.  The gal that organizes the events also does a meet every Friday evening at a different bar/restaurant on the island, so we have been meeting  people and getting to know them, as we see them regularly now.

May 7 was LB’s birthday at the Rasta Bar. On the way out the door to catch the bus, I grabbed my camera, ‘just in case’ and ended up taking pictures for the birthday boy all night. He had a delicious spiked punch in a carved out watermelon, and offered everyone a ‘welcome drink’ when they came in.  As soon as he saw us he rushed up to us and gave us six free drink tokens.  Then about two hours later, Hugo’s delivered sushi, satay and egg roll platters.  The place was jam-packed all night long and we had such a great time.  We didn’t get home until nearly 4:30 a.m.  It was a great opportunity to meet more Maltese people and to talk to them about their lifestyle and the way of life on the island.  It never ceases to amaze me how much love they have for their homeland and how well they know the history of Malta.  From the youngest to the oldest of everyone we’ve met so far, dreams of traveling abroad is always on their minds, but they eventually return to Malta and say that there is no better place to live.  

We managed to get our Mother’s Day cards in the mail on time and when we went to look for the cards all we could find in several different drugstores were cards that said, “Happy Mum’s Day!”  It was funny to us, having never have seen a Mother’s Day card like that before, and Homie chose a cute one for his Mum, but I chose the traditional “Happy Mother’s Day” for my mother.  It occurred to us that we really have to stay on top of the American holidays, (Mother’s Day is observed here however…) as it is easy to forget them, like Memorial Day coming up this Monday.  Fourth of July is another holiday only celebrated in the west and we were wishing that we had more space to be able to invite our new friends over for a old-fashioned BBQ and bean bag tournament, but it is not to be this year.  I am sincerely going to miss that day of brats, beer and lawn games with family and friends, so I suppose we will take our little disposable grill down to the rocks by the sea and have our own little celebration.  Malta is big on fireworks, they seem to find any occasion to light them off, so maybe we will get lucky and see a display that we can ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at.  I can tell you there will be no brats, we have looked high and low for them, and when we go home next summer for an extended visit, we will just have to get our fill then.  My husband is already wondering if we will be able to find corn-on-the-cob here, and we are both hoping so.   When we decided to move to Malta and leave our American roots behind, we did not take into consideration ALL that we would be leaving behind, but it just gives you a better perspective of the differences in culture, lifestyle and customs of other countries.  But I can assure you that on July 4th, when we venture out for an outdoor BBQ, rabbit will NOT be on the grill!  Still not ready for that, will I ever be?  We were excited to see a new store open just five minutes from our flat called Miracle Foods where we can now purchase frozen meats and foods that are very similar to what we are used to seeing in America.  They also have fresh beef and pork and Homie is delirious with all the selections, except still, no brats. 

On May 23rd we went on our second boat trip and while the weather was not as cooperative as the first trip, it was still a massively good time.  It really isn’t warm enough for me to jump into the sea and risk the sting of jellyfish, but Homie loved the water and it is starting to finally warm up enough to swim.  We can’t believe the weather in Minnesota!  It has been hot and humid, warmer than Malta in the past week or so, but the weather we have been experiencing is much more to my liking (low to mid 70’s) and we keep wondering when it is really going to start getting hot.  The boat trips will really be fun then, when everyone is swimming and enjoying the hotness of the day.  And for those of you keeping up, the driver of the boat was not a woman, and when I asked our skipper if there were any woman captains in his company’s employ, he looked at me as though I asked him if the boat is capable of driving itself in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean! 

In the meantime, have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

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It’s finally over.  Pope Benedict XVI was on the little rock in the sea for 26 hours, and although this was considered a visit of spiritual nature, celebrating the 1950th anniversary of the Shipwreck of St Paul, his visit swirled in controversy and debate.  As Malta cleaned up their streets and waited patiently for the homily praising their faith as a nation, where abortion and divorce are against the law, this visit would also feature the Pontiff meeting with eight child abuse victims who stated that “We now have peace in our hearts because the Pope found time to meet with us.”   The victims, now in their 40’s met with the Pope for 35 minutes, were given Rosary beads and told by His Holiness that he “would pray for them”.  One of the victims actually asked the Pope, “How could this have happened?” and the Pope replied, “I will pray for you.”  I guess he didn’t have an answer, but he will pray.

My question is, who was praying for these poor children when they were being sexually abused by their misguided and deceptive priests in which they were supposed to be able to trust and believe in, a representative of God, the emblem of trust and faith?  I had to ask myself how, now as adults,  could they be so easily placated by a 35-minute meeting and a blessed chain of beads.  I had to shake my head in disbelief as I read article after article on how allegations and confessions had been covered up by John Paul himself and others who were higher up in the Catholicism food chain. 

I was raised Catholic and the experience of my First Confession was not a fond memory.  Father Hall baptised me, commenced my First Communion and baptised my son.  Father Hall was also the priest who heard my First Confession.  Generally, you made your First Confession just before you made your Confirmation, so there was no getting out of it.  My best friend since second grade went in first and as her sister and I waited for our turn,  we could hear her bawling her head off, loudly.  It was all we could do to keep our composure and not giggle uncontrollably as we sat in the pew, waiting for our turn.  

I was next and as I crept in, I whispered, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”  I then nervously listed all of my sins that I could remember, trying to come up with a reasonable amount.  I swore at my mom, I stole a pack of gum, I hit my sister.  I lied about where I went one night with my friends.  That was about all I was going to divulge.  I thought it was a pretty good list of sins.  I mean, I really wasn’t a bad kid, I didn’t do a lot to get in trouble, and as my parents were quite over-protective and controlling, I really didn’t get the opportunity to get into a lot of trouble.  As I waited to hear what my penance was going to be, imagine my surprise to hear Father Hall ask me if I let any boys touch me.  Touch me?  Touch me where?  How could he possibly know that I let one of the boys in the neighborhood kiss me when we were playing ditch in Morelli’s yard one night when it was pitch black and everyone seemed to have nothing better to do one summer night?  So I did the unthinkable, I lied.  I said no.  I couldn’t admit it.  I felt instant shame.  I was only 13!  And naive as hell.  So not to be undone, Father Hall had to up the ante.  He says, “Well okay.  That’s good. But have you ever touched yourself?”  Now, this was getting weird.  Touch myself?  I said, “I don’t know what you mean.”  Father Hall said, “You know.  Touch yourself, down there.”  I knew what he was talking about and if he thought I was going to cop to anything, he could well, go to hell!  I said, “No! No! I don’t know what you are talking about!”  He must have recognized the panic in my voice because he then wrapped it up pretty quickly.  I got three Hail Mary’s and four Our Fathers and was told not to lie and make sure to buy my chewing gum from now on.  I hustled out of there so fast, I didn’t wait for my friends and just ran all the way home.  I tried to tell my mother about it, but of course she didn’t believe me and she said, “You must have misunderstood what he was saying.”  WTF?  Misunderstood?  Ummm, no.

So that is when I believe I lost my faith in the Catholic Church and everything it stood for.  Yes, I had my son baptized, the Catholic guilt ran deep in those days, and I didn’t want my son to go to hell just because he hadn’t had blessed holy water poured over his head.  Father Hall passed away nearly 20 years ago, and who even knows how many other young girls (or boys for that matter) he terrorized in the confessional. But that is nothing compared to what these other kids have gone through and it just pisses me off to no end that these horrible, unspeakable crimes against a child’s innocence occur, and keep occurring.  It’s not supposed to be that way. 

At first, when we found out the Pope was going to be in Malta, I truly thought about attending the huge publicized Mass and had a sliver of desire to go see him, then I thought, “Why?”  Just to say I saw the Pope?  So what.  That’s not me, and I’m not going to pretend it is. 

~Peace~

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Baseball
When we decided to move to Malta one of the drawbacks was the fact that we were going to miss out on seeing the Minnesota Twins play this season in the brand new outdoor stadium.  It wasn’t a deal breaker, but none-the-less, it was a bummer.  So when we were able to get the game in tonight, we were both happy to be there, if only by way of our computer screen and a shaky connection to Sopcast.  With a little bit of patience and some real determination, we finally connected in the bottom of the fourth inning.  What a beautiful diamond in the city, looking all green and new!  The Twins won, Kubel hit the first homerun in the new digs and we found ourselves craving a good old-fashioned American hotdog.  The only thing that may have made the experience a bit more realistic would be hearing the wail of Wally the Beerman!  It was a great game and the stadium looks amazing.  Outdoor baseball is back in Minnesota, and it is about time! 

Prostitutes 
When we first moved into the flat, our landlord kindly took Homie down and around the block to show him where the grocer, DVD store and Step-In (a little store kind of like Tom Thumb…) were located.  Then he pointed way down the block, near the bus stop and looked at Homie and seriously stated, “Be careful down there.  That’s where all the hookers are.”  We of course immediately started to wonder what kind of neighborhood we got ourselves caught up in.  Here we are five months later and we actually do live in a nice little neighborhood (if not for the continuous traffic…) complete with a kick-ass DVD store and a reasonable grocer right around the corner.  It takes five minutes to walk down to our little bus stop that takes us to Rasta Bar, and on the way,  nearly right across the street, sit the ladies of the night.

When we first moved in we were anxious to walk around and check out our surroundings.  As we first encountered the ladies, either sitting by the open window or standing in the doorway, our nostrils were assaulted with the fumes of heavy perfume and Aqua Net.  It doesn’t matter what time it is, whenever we have ventured past, they are all done up and open for business.    When I was able to catch their eye, I’d make sure to smile and say hello.  By the surprised look on their faces I realized that they were not expecting any Minnesota nice, but hey, that’s just me.   They don’t really bother anyone, except maybe someone’s wife, and it seems as though they are not hassled by the Puliza, as we have never seen or heard any trouble, even when we are dropped home by the Wembley cab service after hanging at the Rasta bar til 4 a.m.    Last night Homie walks in at 1 a.m. after a night in the kitchen chopping garlic and declares, “Well, I’ve done something tonight that I’ve never done before in my life.”  I said, “What could that possibly be?”  And he informed me with a huge smile on his face, “I directed some Russian guy to where the hookers are.”  I laughed and said, “Maybe you should consider pimping, there’s some money in that.”  And then we watched South Park.

Dingli Cliffs
Last weekend we were day trippin’ at the Dingli Cliffs.  I had been wanting to go for some time and we ended up having perfect weather as we headed out, on Homie’s only day off for the week.  We took the bus to Valletta and after consulting the trusty 2009 bus schedule we saw that Bus #81 would take us straight to one of the biggest tourist destinations on the island, the Dingli (din-glee) Cliffs.  The bus ride was the longest so far, about 30 minutes, and as we wound our way through the tiny villages and towns,  our new countryside started to get a bit greener.  Homie and I looked at each other like we were ten again and on the way to Disneyland, and I think it was completely due to the fact that we were now seeing grass, trees and colorful wild flowers.  Not a lot of color where we have been spending the majority of our time…

Just when we started to wonder how much further, the bus stopped with a screech and the driver shouts, “Dingli Cliffs!”  Everyone shuffles up and out of the bus and we find ourselves in the tiny little town of Dingli.  I do not see anything except a round-about and more cement.  Suddenly Homie exclaims, “Look at that sign!”  I look to where he is pointing (there is a picture of this in the photos…) and on the building in front of us is a little sign with an arrow that says, “Dingli Cliff”.  So we start to hoof it down the road, following our fellow passengers, wondering where the heck we are going.  We walk for about a half mile, with buildings on either side of us and all of a sudden we the buildings are behind us and we are confronted with the most beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea yet.  The road that skirts the cliffs is over a thousand feet above the sea, and is easily the most panoramic view we have witnessed so far on this tiny little island.  At the end of the road sits Bobbyland, the only restaurant in sight, so we stroll in for a few Cisks and split a dinner of Steak Diane (still can’t do the rabitt which Bobbyland is famous for…) which was delicious. 

Afterwards, we thought we’d have a bit of a hike, but the terrain was so rocky, with no defined paths, complete with rusty gates in the middle of nowhere to prevent you from any further descent.  We meander back down the winding road to the bus stop, noticing a decorative cemetary on the way.  I snap a few pictures just as we saw the bus turning in the roundabout.  A great day exploring another part of the island and as the older bus jostled its way toward Valletta,  I am once again amazed that this Minnesota girl is living and loving life in Malta.

~Peace~

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I haven’t been cooking any traditional Maltese food and one thing that I know I probably won’t do is Rabbit Stew.  I feel a little bad about it, because part of this whole adventure is learning and living the culture and that includes experiencing the Maltese cuisine.   Rabbit is a main staple here for the Maltese, and I just don’t know what my problem is, but I can’t seem to bring myself to order it when we are out, even though it smells quite delicious, almost like a spicy beef stew, but yet, not beefy. 

We had a pet rabbit growing up, and still to this day I can’t believe my mother let it roam about the house freely, but its name was Cinnamon and we loved her. (Or was it a “him”?)  I can’t remember how it even came to be that Cinnamon became our family pet, but she was so sweet and loved to sit on your lap and be petted.  So as I fondly remember Cinnamon, it becomes even more difficult to consider eating rabbit stew or anything made with rabbit as one of the ingredients.  When we go to the grocer, I quickly scan the meat counter to see if there is anything we want fresh (this is a splurge as fresh meat is so much more expensive than frozen, for obvious reasons…) because I do not even want to see fresh rabbit behind our grocer’s meat counter.  For our Easter dinner we plan to purchase a beef roast (wanted the ham, but oh-so-salty here) which Homie can then season and pat and nibble from while its cooking in its own juices and he is so looking forward to it!

It’s been a rather weepy couple of days for me, I’ve come to discover that I am over-emotional when a holiday rolls around.  Easter was always a favorite.  Years ago in my previous life, I would go to church with Grandma, then she would come to my house and help me cook dinner.  We’d play Yahtzee and drink coffee and I would get to listen to her stories of life on the farm growing up. Further down the path on Memory Lane I’d make an Easter basket for my grandson,  and have so much fun watching him trying to locate all the plastic eggs we’d hide all over the house that were full of chocolate and other things that he wasn’t supposed to have, that only a Grandma can get away with.  God I loved to torment my son whilst spoiling my grandson!  (It’s in my top-ten list of favorite things to do.)

It has been a very busy week here on what I fondly now refer to as the little rock in the sea.  Normally our one night out each week is Friday and last Friday Homie had to work.  So I went with my friend AB to the expat gathering at a little jazz club in Paceville.  The band was a young ‘Captain & Tenille’, but singing jazz , well I guess I wouldn’t even call it jazz, but to be fair they sounded okay (but not really).   After the first set I got restless and could practically hear the reggae calling my name from the Rasta Bar which was only a five-minute walk away.  Finally my companions were ready to head out and we went to another cool place I haven’t been to yet called Tiffany’s.  Situated right in the middle of a small man-made bay, it was a dark little cigar bar with oversized easy chairs and a great atmosphere.  It offered a huge balcony/deck where you could also dine and had a great view of the sea and million dollar condos. 

We left Tiff’s and finally headed to Rasta.  My new expat friends had not been and ended up loving it as much as Homie and I do.  LB was his regular charming self and I felt right at home as some of the regulars cheeky-kissed me when they saw me and LB got me a beer right away.  It wasn’t the same without my husband, but I was entertained talking to my Maltese friends and watching LB work the ladies.  We ended up staying out until nearly 4 a.m. and one of the expats, who has moved here from Germany gave us all a lift home, and I was so glad I didn’t have to deal with the Wembley cab all on my own.

Couple of updates.  Still haven’t found employment, but not worried at all, I know the Universe will provide. The expats are so cool, the ones that have been here the longest know so many people, and it won’t be long until I finally get my foot in the door. The freelance writing is still going great and the more I do it, the more I love it, and the more I learn.  Started the cigs, but monitoring my intake and will always and inevitably quit again.  Homie and I had our first bout of sickness, a stomach bug that came and went in 72 hours.  It really made us think about how damn lucky we are that we are so healthy and we were so grateful we didn’t have to go to hospital.  (That’s how they say it in Europe…you go to hospital.  You don’t go to ‘the’ hospital!)  While meeting all the new cool expat people I met a woman and her husband who is a marine and is working at the US Embassy (where I just recently submitted my latest application).  They were headed to Sicily the next morning for American supplies and she asked if there was anything I wanted from the PX.  Well I made my way around the jazz club until I found a pen and a napkin and she delivered it to me last Monday because we were still not feeling well enough to meet in St. Julian’s. What a sweetheart!!  Among other goodies, she delivered Lays potato chips, Mountain Dew and Advil! I truly believe it helped to speed up the recovery and 48 hours later we felt fine. 

Fine enough for Rasta Bar this Friday….

~Peace~

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