Saturday, May 24, 2014

Malta Diary - part 4

Visiting so many towns and villages this past week, I came to realize how much the topography and physiognomy of my home town has changed recently. The many colonial style one floor houses have been replaced by apartments that are 6 to 12 floors, most of them for tourists, but for local residents as well. My home town of St. Julian's is well known for restaurants, hotels and even night clubs where the young and the old gather for entertainment, besides of course for socializing, drinking and just hanging out. Walking around these neighborhoods, I felt like a fish out of the water, as the young people dominate the streets, bars and shops, most of them with tables and chairs outside, to attract more customers. I don't want to sound like a broken record, because I've mentioned this point already in an earlier entry, but this has been a major change in my perspective of Malta, one of the smallest islands, but with a tremendous building boom, overcrowded towns, and a hectic, bustling life, night and day.

Many of these young people are students from foreign countries staying in Malta for a few weeks or months with the purpose of learning English. Since most of the Maltese are polyglots, and speak at least English and Italian, besides their native Maltese, it is easy for foreigners to find a welcoming spirit and friendly people, wherever they go. There is always someone around who can speak a foreign language, and communication is the least of our problems. 

And since Malta is part of the European Union, any Maltese native can work abroad, and vice-versa. We don't even need a passport to travel to other European countries, similar to what happens when one travels from one state to another within the United States of America. 

There are in Malta around 90 parishes, and each parish celebrates a special festivity during the summer months, honoring their patron saint. Over the next two weekends, I hope to visit some of these parishes, where a procession with the statue of the saint is held on Sunday evening, culminating a week of religious celebrations, held inside the local parish church, as well as outside, with fireworks, band marches and lots of decorations along the main streets of each town and village. The churches in particular are dressed up in their very best with tapestries hanging on the walls, chandeliers, as well as other decorations that are stored throughout the year, but are showcased during this week, as churches sparkle with the gold and silver that are hundreds of years old, donated by our generous forefathers and preserved throughout the centuries

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