Please note: I’ve been informed by someone who shall remain anonymous that I may have been too harsh on a certain person in my previous post so I will endeavor to keep this post positive towards that particular person as best I can but us Irish aren’t famed for our positivity. [Evil Evil Ross]
Saturday started early much to Zahra and Ali’s dellight (see positive!). We had some more fruit and fibre and were on our way to see the local delights. The first stop was the Hagar Qim temples. [These temples are older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids in Giza and we are rightly proud of them]. We got a lift to the visitor centre there by Cec’s mum’s friend [Mum was helping out her friend’s son, and needed the car to go to pick up Annfrom the airport later]. Bernard had wedding obligations [Not our wedding, but a friend’s wedding at which he will be best man and of all days they chose the day I am there Oh Well] so he couldn’t join us. Again we availed of our student discount and proceeded through the new visitor centre which Cec had not been in before. We weren’t very awake [Weren’t we happy to wake up early ??] so we kinda skipped through it fairly quickly. We then walked to the tent covered temple. Apparently it was quite controversial to cover the ancient temple but I liked the mix of modern and ancient and it also will preserve the area for future generations. I really liked the temple and ancient carvings. We then moved to the other temples called Mnajdra which was a bit of a walk away and it was quite windy but sunny. The Mnajdra temple was also covered and was quite similar to the previous temples but had some nice carvings.
We then went for a short walk to the Blue Grotto viewing site which was quite impressive and it was nice to hear some stories from Cec of her swimming and diving days around the grotto.
We moved onto to a port and diving area further down the road where we sat, chatted and dipped our toes into the sea. I think we all found it nice to sit down and watch the divers while we soaked our feet in the clear water. [The ‘port’ is Wied iz-Zurrieq…it is where I spent many a day swimming in past summers, it being a short 20minute or so walk from my house] I saw the famous Italian in Malta joke that Cec was talking about before on a tea towel for sale at a local shop.
We then got picked up by Cec’s sister Ann and her mum. Cec was picked up by Bernard who was bringing her to their friends to give them a wedding present. It was the first time that I saw Cec’s sis in the flesh [Not true…you had seen her for a few seconds when she visited the lab over Easter] as we had only chatted over gmail before. She had just arrived home and was in good form. She looks and sounds like Cec but most of the time I can tell them apart [Good for you Ross :P]. Ali had more trouble distinguishing them. We then went to the house for a traditional Maltese lunch. I’m sure Cec can give you the proper name [Hobz biz-Zejt] but it consisted of bread roll with tomatoes, tuna, olives, capers, onions and gbejna. Cec instructed her mum and sis that I wasn’t to have tuna in mine because I’m not a major fan of it. So they made a special one without tuna. It was yummy! I later tried some of Cec’s with the tuna in it and it did enhance it.
For the afternoon we went to Golden Bay beach as Zahra was hankering for some sunbathing. Ann kindly drove us there. The Fenech sisters were quite competitive about their driving skills. Zahra and I decided that Cec drives faster but Ann drives smoother. They are going to kill me now! Anyway we arrived at the beach which was definitely golden. There was a hell of a lot of steps down to it but it was worth it. We lay on the beach for a bit whilst waiting for Bernard and Cec to arrive. Once they arrived, Cec, Ann and I went for a swim. They found the water cold but for me, being used to the Atlantic Ocean, it was relatively warm. The sea was so clear but I that wasn’t good for me as it made my legs look eerily translucent .The others lay on the beach. When we got back to the beach Zahra and Ali went for a romantic walk while we dried ourselves off. We then went for some Ice-cream at the cafe and Zahra and Ali joined us. Zahra got herself a long awaited coffee.
Off we went back to the house where we left Ali and Zahra make their Iranian food. I tried to help but you know the saying too many cooks spoil the broth. Cec, Ann, Bernard and I went to a Maltese mass where one of the numerous aunts was saying a reading. Obviously I had no idea what the priest was saying but I could follow some of the responses and prayers by reading the pamphlet and looking at the projected screen. The young priest a friend of Cec’s and Bernard’s was really nice and said body of Christ to me when I went up for communion. I thought it was nice of him to make the effort although it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t Maltese as I was translucent (as Ann kindly described me) and also was taller than everyone in the church. After a lengthy chat with the priest and Cec and Ann’s doctor and his wife, we headed back for our Iranian grub.
The food was impressive as always and everyone enjoyed it. I think I’m getting a taste for Iranian food after Zahra’s yummy birthday feast. We had a chicken, lemon, mushroom soup to start which was certainly different to any soup I had had before and tasted really refreshing. We then had the main course of stuffed bread which is a favourite of mine from Zahra’s birthday. As usual Zahra with the help of Ali made a great dinner. With all the slagging I give her I can’t slag her cooking. I can’t wait for her to open her Iranian restaurant in Dublin! We had some walnut Ice cream for dessert which was a first for me and some fresh fruit.
We then went to a village feast. This was nice for us tourists but the Maltese were probably sick of going to them. From what I could gather most villages in Malta (apparently towns don’t exist) have feasts to celebrate saints. Each village could have more than one feast. Each feast has a colour and the village would be decorated in this colour for the week of the feast. The village feast we were at (can’t remember the name) was decorated in green [St. Joseph’s feast in Ghaxaq]. For the feast the church is decorated and the particular saint’s statue is proudly put on display. It was Saint Joseph’s feast that we attended. In the village square there was a great atmosphere where the band played. Most feasts have firework displays which are made by local volunteers with no chemical experience. We moved to the viewing area where the fireworks are supposedly timed to music but most didn’t seem to match with it. Ann had to leave us to pick up Stephen her brother from the airport but joined us later with jackets as some people were getting chilly. The fireworks were pretty amazing but Cec and Bernard didn’t seem impressed as they had seen so many before. It was longer than other fireworks display that I had been at. Zahra and Ali said they had never been as close to the fireworks as we were. We got a little shrapnel near us but nothing too dangerous. Zahra wasn’t impressed when a piece hit her square on the nose. We then moved to see the ground fireworks. Apparently it is quite common to have these at the feasts. I had never seen them before and I was quite impressed with the intricacies of the designs. Zahra should have some pics and videos of them [Will upload them once I get my hands on them]. Once one of the ground fireworks was lit another is lit and we moved forward to the next. Every time I thought we were moving to the last firework more appeared. After the finale firework we went home to bed.
By Ross O’Dwyer