Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Letter from Europe

  • — Issue 2014/18 posted by hidden europe on

The island of Gozo, Malta's kid sister, is indeed a sanctuary, a place apart. All the more so during these last days of June when a sequence of Catholic feast days are the cue for village festivities.

article summary —

Memories in heaps – of the colours,
a limestone citadel proud in the sea.
Honey villages, sweet in the evening sunshine,
amber walls, rubble threads on the hills.

Memories in heaps – of the tastes,
Mesken's ftira is more than just pizza.
Spicy zalzett at a house in Xewkija,
sausages strung, threads for the plate.

Memories in heaps – of their faces,
lined by long lives in the sun.
Bright, painted masks for the fiesta,
as the crowd threads on the square.

Memories in heaps – of their faith,
Christ rising in Xaghra at Easter.
Peter and Paul at Nadur in June,
saintly shadows thread the streets.

Memories in heaps – of their boats,
the eye of Horus proud on each bow.
The luzzi returning to Mgarr at dusk,
a web of colour threading the harbour.

Memories in heaps – of the smells,
sweet scent of June in the meadows.
Lavender, rose, and newly cut grass,
spirits of incense thread the sanctuary.

Memories in heaps – of departure,
sad moments on the ferry to Malta.
Gozo's limestone ledges slipping away.
Leaving just the mind-threads of memory.

***

The island of Gozo, Malta's kid sister, is indeed a sanctuary, a place apart. All the more so during these last days of June when a sequence of Catholic feast days are the cue for village festivities.

Last week there was Corpus Christi. Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the patronal feast of the community of Fontana in the middle of the island.

This coming Sunday is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul – probably the best liturgical double act in the entire ecclesiastical calendar. It is the patronal feast of Nadur, the second largest village on the island of Gozo. The church at Nadur is typically Gozitan, a great monumental structure in honey-coloured coralline. This coming weekend is a fine time to be in Nadur, with a number of events on both Saturday and Sunday to mark the patronal feast.

I shall not be there, having opted instead to celebrate the name day of Saints Peter and Paul in Maputo – a place which in the mind-threads of my imagination is full of colonial history, seafood curry and mosquitoes.

Nicky Gardner
(co-editor, hidden europe magazine)

This article was published in Letter from Europe.

About The Authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.