May 11, 2018

Oh good, you’re here. Please come and sit down so that I can show you the 2713 (According to mathematician Larry, that’s a prime number.) pictures that I took on my recent trip. What? This is radio, and you can’t see them and thus are spared from this “opportunity.” Well then, a thousand words, give or take, will have to suffice.

Tony Krabill, the producer of Michiana Chronicles, said to me not so long ago that I often speak of travel. This was a surprise to me; I would have thought that my genre was more the trivial than travel. To speak too much of travel seems like bragging and, as we all know, that’s not nice. So saideth my Mother, and probably yours as well. Thus, I try to keep talk of such at bay. However, there are such amazing and delightful things in the world-at-large that it is difficult not to report my findings.

All of that being said, I wanna’ tell you about Malta. Mostly in my life, I haven’t thought about Malta, but the opportunity came my way to go there, and I don’t think that I’ll ever be the same since having experienced it. First off, it’s an island and islands always are good. There’s a water source, and in the case of Malta there is perfect weather, perfect size, nice British influence for those of us who are Anglophiles, tons of history and a slightly exotic historical and architectural influence left by Muslims: what’s not to love?! And, even though you think that you don’t know Malta, you might be surprised. Lots of filming happens there, most recently numerous locations shown in “Game of Thrones.”

I don’t want to lapse into travelogue-mode here, (right up there with showing the 2713 photos on the boredom-factor scale) but from youth on, I had a desire to see Stonehenge. Having accomplished that earlier in my travelling-life, now and again I’m surprised and interested to find Stonehenge-like structures in other places. Newgrange in Ireland is one and now, Hagar Qim in Malta is added to my list. Alongside the urge to create spirits: i.e. strong drink, the construction of these megalithic worship spaces reinforces my curiosity about the human need to propitiate whatever deities were on their radar. Those two creations are beginning to seem to me to be universal and historical.

Also, perhaps you haven’t made the connection, but our much-loved mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, has Maltese roots. And, although it sometimes seem difficult to wrap our minds and mouths around the spelling and pronunciation of his surname, apparently it’s a fairly common name in Malta. Not as common as “Smith,” more like “Green” or “Williams.” When asked, my “native guide” told me this and seemed quite pleased with a son-of-Malta having made good here in the new world. So much so that he even mentioned him when offering good wishes as he sent our little group back into the not-Malta world. So, there you go, Mayor Pete: greetings from Malta.

Credit Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

An I-thought-that-I-died-and-went-to-heaven moment that I had in Malta concerned pastry. Yes, another plus, they have very good pastry there. I was sitting at an outdoor cafe with a glass of white Maltese wine, perusing the menu while listening to an accomplished street oboist run though a fairly extensive classical and theatrical repertoire, when I came upon an entry that, from the description, sounded much like a Napoleon. They however, called it a “Diplomat.” Not being a scholar of Maltese history, I only can suppose that this is so-renamed as a result of the unfortunate episode where Napoleon bombarded the capital, Valetta, in 1798. Could be the sort of thing where a bit of rancor remains. In any case, call if what you will, it’s my favorite dessert and neither it nor the setting disappointed. Another Maltese triumph and another reason to want to return and take more photographs.

Home for the moment, for Michiana Chronicles, this is Jeanette Saddler-Taylor.

Music: Folk Dance Malta