I learned and experienced many things during my years in Malta, and I wrote around 30 articles about it — most of them were positive, about the places we discovered, from small village streets to the windswept heights of Ras ir-Raheb and the coast of Blata tal-Melh.
But some were critical, too.
I found the history to be quite fascinating. The present culture not so much. And this past year of corruption and greed intolerable.
This look at some of the challenges of living there seems to have struck a nerve in a lot of people. It was originally published by Outpost magazine in November 2015, as part of a series I did on Expat Life. And it went viral this past weekend and drew a lot of emotional hysterics.
I stand by my observations. They were based on first hand experience.
What comes to seem normal when living in such a small, inward-looking place is very, very strange when seen from outside. The Malta Years were an interesting period of my life.
I know Berlin well — we’ve been coming here yearly for the past 4 years, usually for a month each time. We always rented flats in different parts of the city, which was a nice way to explore its many neighbourhoods. This place held a strange attraction for us right from the beginning.
I travel a great deal for my work, and as a way of digging deeper into myself. But Berlin is the one place where, when I’m here, I don’t think about travel at all. A few weeks go past, and I suddenly realize I haven’t looked at maps or planned the next journey.
I don’t expect perfection, of course — that doesn’t exist anywhere. I think the best you can hope for is a place that resonates with you.
We love the art scene and the constant exhibits. The history, and perhaps the afterglow of the Weimar years. The cultural diversity and the ethic food. The unpretentious live-and-let-live nature of Berliners.
And perhaps more than anything, that feeling of creativity in the air, of curious, motivated people doing interesting things. I find it tremendously inspiring.
We’re living in a wonderful area, with writers and journalists as neighbours. There’s an outstanding English language second hand bookshop nearby, all sorts of cafes, a video rental shop run by guys with obscure knowledge, and more ethnic food choices within a 10 min walk than we could eat in 3 weeks. And the best part? Wide ranging conversations with curious, well-read people.
It reminds me of why I left Malta, and why we haven’t looked back.
Photos ©Tomoko Goto