It been 78 days since I arrived on this small rock to try and find my first home for many years. It took nearly a month before we were able to move into the apartment we wanted (as someone else was already living in it) and over six weeks to get all the paperwork I needed to apply for residency. And it might take six months for a decision on the residency. Bureaucracy is wonderful like that.
Thus far, I like Malta. I miss trees (less than 1% of the land is covered by forest), the traffic is worse than in England (it’s has the ninth highest rate of vehicle ownership in the world), and there are loads of people (it’s the eighth densest country in the world by population), but people have been friendly, everything is reachable, I can buy slices of pizza for 1 euro, and I swam in the sea on Christmas Eve. I never thought I would live in Malta, mainly because I didn’t know much about it, but I’m here now and I will be here for a while. We have plants in the garden and I have beer brewing in the cupboard, and I’m even thinking about buying some new clothes to put in my oversize wardrobe to accompany the random bits of clothing I have acquired over the past six years.
We came to Malta in The Donkey, our Renault Master van conversion, and she sits on the street waiting for the conversion to be completed so that she can whisk us away when the weather gets a bit warmer. I hope to take her to Italy to try some via ferratas when I get the chance, and maybe further afield after that. But for the time being I have my little place.
It’s funny, living in a place, when you haven’t really lived anywhere, ever. Not since uni, when I had a house for a year that I shared with three friends, have I really had a home where I have kept stuff. Everywhere else has been temporary. And I like that. But every time you try to do something new, invisible borders and pieces of paper start getting in your way. I have also found that life is very expensive when you live somewhere and you have to think about lots of silly little things that you don’t care about and pay bills that you hadn’t accounted for. Life on the road is much simpler – a sleeping bag, a change of clothes, and the world in front of you. What I have enjoyed since moving here is that we have been able to have visitors for pretty much the first time ever. In the first month of moving into our house, two friends and my mother came to visit, which was lovely.
2016 was a year in which I was greatly upset by two major political events, one concerning the UK and one concerning America. I rarely ever pay attention to politics or the news, but I felt we faced two monumental tests as a species: to make the choice to come together as human beings, despite the fact that it might not benefit us as individuals or clans. On both counts, we failed.
I have been in Malta for 78 days and on Thursday I leave for the first time, to visit my family in the UK, which I am looking forward to. There is a lot more that I hope to achieve by being in Malta and time will tell if it was the right choice to come here, but I have hope: Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that calls you forward, that keeps you taking steps, that gives you your meaning.
Here is a little taste of what Malta has looked like, thus far: