I took this photo on my way up to the Dome, revelling in the aftermath of the marching band.
Religion is huge here on Malta. The Islanders are steeped in years of tradition, observance, obedience, and Festas.
As a half-Maltese/half-Dutch/raised in Africa, citizen of this country, I feel left on the outside.
Where does Religion end for my fellow islanders? Is it when I open my mouth and speak English?
The edge of Religion. I don’t have a religion. I am a believer. I believe that what you put out, you will receive back. Embrace those around you and share the one commonality between all religions – Love.
Relocating is not for the feint-hearted. It has been one of the most exciting, albeit most challenging times, of my life. Packing up and leaving my home that I have known my whole life, and closing that chapter behind me. The decision was made without a ‘get free’ card. There was not going to be any going back, no option of us not liking this. It was going to work. Regardless. This was me about to live my dream.
What has hit me hardest in the past 8 months as been the culture-shock. I didn’t expect to be on the receiving end of racism and nor was I expecting the general lack of support from those whom I have considered to be my nearest and dearest. It is no easy feat starting over, with nothing. It has taken courage and every ounce of determination that I could summon up. I am the most fortunate in that both my sons followed me without a second thought. To top that off, my mother sold up her home, packed up her security in a few boxes and literally followed me to the other side of the earth! Blind faith. I am Blessed beyond words to have three amazing people that have such incredible belief in me. There have been times when I have found myself feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of three people leaning on me and looking at me to make this work. I have to laugh here – be careful what you pray for.. you might just get it!
Before I knew it, 8 months have passed. Mosta has had its big Festa and we have grown a part of this community, in our own way, of course. Time has flown past, yet, life has slowed down. Shops close at noon for Siesta time. They reopen again at around 4pm, in the Winter time. Summer time, well, that is just another story. Some shops don’t open again. Banks, government offices and some store owners who have an apartment on the coast and have closed up to spend time by the sea, living life as it should be done. Family, friends, food and lots of fun.
This took some getting used to in the beginning. Planning your day around what shop will be available in the afternoon. Accepting that you are not going to get the answer that you want, now, until they are good and ready to give it to you. All the ‘things’ that I have deemed to be so important, can still be done the next day, without it affecting anything in my life. It has been a life-lesson in patience. Something that was not being handed out in abundance on the day that I was born!
My sons have done me proud. They have settled so well into the community. Play rugby for a local sports club and are well-liked and happy. Settled. My sons have resettled. This was my main reason for this incredibly brave move, at this stage of my life. Mission accomplished. If nothing else had worked out, the fact that this did, has made it all so very worthwhile.
I am proud. Damien has shown the locals at The Pub, in Valletta, just what South African’s are like as barmen! He is up to his usual tactics and I am not sure if The Pub will ever be the same again. Liam starts university in a few weeks time and I know that he is going to make a success of whatever he chooses to do. He is driven and has exceptionally expensive taste. Oh, maybe I should have said that first?!
Mom and I are taking a bit longer. My shy and introverted ways do not lend themselves to meeting new people. I am guilty of having immersed myself into resettling us. Citizenship, passports and ID cards. Sorting out Tax and social services, medical etc. This all takes an inordinate amount of time. It is done now, except for one last thing. My driver’s licence. I have to redo it. Malta does not recognise the South African driver’s licence… I’m not asking questions or passing comments. On Malta, indicators are decorations and courtesy didn’t come with the licence. That must have been an additional extra that they didn’t want to pay for. Just saying.
I’m a fiercely determined individual. I sympathise with those who share my home. My mother is long-suffering and my boys have learnt to either ignore me or give me back as good as I give out.
I am strong and resilient. Just like this beautiful island that I have chosen to call my home. I can take a knock. Okay, I can take a lot of knocks, and still come back bouncing. Now is the time of reaping the benefits of what we have sewn. I look forward to learning the language of my new home and making friends with the people who live here.
We make the four pillars of our structure. Each one of us is strong in our own unique way, which has aided in us making this work. A lot of laughing, some wine, okay, maybe I will rephrase that.. A lot of wine and some laughing!! It is still early days. It has always been said that the first year is the hardest. Make no mistake. It is. Just don’t forget to laugh, eat the fantastic food and drink, all that your new home has to offer. Embrace the journey.
We have and it is worth everything.
So, on a daily basis, I have to drag myself out of bed, reminding myself that the job I am going to is serving towards allowing me to scratch my proverbial itch.
What is it that calls me so strongly? I love the feel of walking through the airport and leaving my life behind me. Just for a while. All the complications and daily battles. Walking through without a care in the world. Well, not exactly without a care, just leaving them aside for a while. Freedom. That is what I love so desperately. The freedom to move around as I want to. To sit where I want to, eat whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. The freedom to just be. The peace and solace of being in my own head, uninterrupted.
There is nothing quite like landing in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language. The sights and sounds are all different. I feel alive and can’t drink enough of the surroundings in. I never feel as alive or energised as when I am on the hoof.
But for today, I am happy that I do what I do so that I can go where I want to go. Just for now, I will sit in my head and think about the next place that I want to travel to.