Thursday, May 18, 2006

All things wog: hair gel, food & shooters

So the end of my wog experience is drawing near and for the sake of Guy and my size 8 wardrobe at home not a minute too soon. I feel like I am the size of a moose. Malta has been amazing but it is reminiscent of a lifestyle I could succumb to way too easily and some would suggest that I innately live in Australia.

Hair maintenance…..
would be one of the things I am well known for amongst family and friends alike. When my hair is straight it is the result of an hour’s worth of ironing, when it is curly it is the result of half a can of mousse, a tube of hair gel and a painstaking, ear splitting tantrum, for those in close proximity to me. I, however no longer have the Australian climate and it’s insistent humidity to blame. It seems that my Diana Ross-esque hair (yes Guy that was for you) is the result of genes. Not just my father’s but a whole island’s worth. On my first Monday here in Malta my cousin Debbie took me to Malta’s answer to Good Vibrations. A couple of thousand young people, drunk or otherwise in a beach car park all dancing to the same beat (well most of them anyway). I drank blue drinks, wore sunglasses well into the night and for the first time in my life DIDN’T have to strain to see the stage. It was amazing. Suddenly I was a tallest person in site – except for maybe a few other foreigners who had landed in the middle of the Mediterranean. This joy lasted about 5 minutes until I realized that the reason I was so tall was because all of the other girls were the size of Nicole Ritchie only with black hair and I suspect slightly hairer bodies. The guys were a league of their own. Imagine Norton Street, Leichhardt on a Saturday night. Minus the sleaze factor it was like looking into the forum and needing your sunglasses to deflect the lights shining off the wet look gelled heads. From 3pm to 3am everyone danced and sweated and became slightly delusional BUT not a single hair was out of place – incredible.

This day was also my first introduction to the Maltese party life.
Whilst I consider myself a pretty enthusiastic type of person when it comes to partying; last one standing (yes Nic), the first to the mike (yes Al) and the possessor or trophees (yes Dan & Morts) it seems that I am anything but, when it comes to the Maltese. I must warn that anyone who intends to come to Malta should do so only after attending a training camp similar to The Biggest Loser but perhaps call it The Biggest Eater, Drinker and Insomniac. I simply can’t keep up!!!! I have found myself literally exhausted and I think that it is due to my body having difficulty digesting the 500g of pasta, 600g of meat, 25 cups of tea, 2 litres of alcohol and a partridge in a pear tree that I am required to consume daily because "I’m on a holiday" (say that in a woggy accent ala Acropils Now, for effect). I also feel a bit behind the eight ball when it comes to the partying lifestyle. The typical day for a 20-something in Malta is; wake up at 7, work until 1, have a siesta until 4, work until 7, cook for an hour and a half if you are female, go to the pub if you are male, watch a bit of TV or listen to some music until 11, head to Paceville and start with a few quiet vodkas, at 12.30 get your first tray (10 shots) of shooters, by 4 you and a friend should have consumed 3 of these trays between you, dance until 6 then drive (yes drive drunk) to the closest patstizzi outlet and watch the sunrise whilst eating. Now it doesn’t sound that difficult but they do it day after day and are relentless with the drinking – the trays of shots cost around $10 so you can well imagine the temptation!!!!

Aside from the partying…..
Malta is amazing. I know that I have probably had a very different experience than most as I have family here but for such a tiny place it has so much to offer. Malta has some of the oldest temples and man made constructions in the world. Some of the structures pre-date the pyramids and show elements of sophistication such as writing and use of tools that other countries couldn’t boast until thousands of years later. Being in such a strategic location (off the end of Sicily) Malta has been fought over for thousands of years. During World War II Malta was continuously bombed for 60 days. It is incredible that such a small country was able to rebuild itself and be one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations today. The landscape is quite similar to that of Morocco (due to a 200 year occupation by the Arabs). All of the buildings are a sandy colour and very square. The houses tend to be like terraces, narrow and tall. The water is incredible. I naively thought that the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday’s had the most stunning water in the world but the water here in Malta is incredibly clean and blue. I’ve been swimming quite a bit since being here.

are best known for being small round chocolates that when bitten into evoke the delight of light and sweet honeycomb. I can only guess that these delicacies were based on the Maltese people. They too are small and somewhat round with a hard, dark exterior. Scratch the surface however and you find the most amazing people. Everyone here is incredibly generous and welcoming. They are so proud of their country but not at all arrogant. They are very religious but not fanatical. They work hard to maintain their culture and traditions but are open to other influences and do not reject other cultures. I really can’t get over the seeming contrast of high held morals and beliefs that meshes with the partying, laughter and general familial feeling. For instance they are so dedicated to their religious beliefs that they will party all night then be up at 10am to attend mass. As the place is so tiny (20km long and you can drive from one side to the other in 15 minutes) everyone knows everyone which in Australia would seem bad (ie the small town/Cennie Coast mentality) but here it means that you always have someone to give you a lift or help you out or to have a laugh with. All of the people seem so happy.

The highlights…..
of Malta have been numerous and varied. The first week was fantastic. Meeting family that I had never met but feeling at home instantly made me miss having people from Australia that I love in my life everyday but also made me want to stay in Malta for a long period of time so to learn more about where my grandparents are from. In the first week I visited Valetta (the capital city), St Julians, Mosta Dome (where a bomb fell during mass in WWII and didn’t ever explode), The Blue Grotto (water that looks like blue ink has been poured into it), Paceville (party-ville) and many other smaller places. I also celebrated my 25th
birthday which was a bit strange. I really missed my family & friends on this day but as many of you sent messages of love or called I felt pretty popular & just like I was at home!
Mo arrived on the Friday which was great. I had been being shuffled around from place to place in a frantic whirlwind attempt to show me everything (and feed me everything) there is to see/eat in Malta and was exhausted. Mo’s arrival meant staying in the family beach house & relaxing a bit. We spent most of the week in the sun which was fantastic and let me work on my tan! We had a few nights out and spent a day on a sailing trip around Malta, Gozo and Comino – there are plenty of photos of this on my photo site and are well worth a look, the underwater caves were amazing. It was nice to have company for the week as well. I think I just about talked Mo’s ear off but this could have been the result of me becoming accustomed to the life of a Maltese woman – constant loud talking over the top of everyone else or perhaps the result of me having constant company for the first time since I left the land of Oz. Mo flew home on the following Thursday and it was really sad saying goodbye. I’ve tended to latch onto people as soon as I make a friend or spend any period of time with them as it is so rare to even have a conversation with someone when traveling alone.
Since Mo went back to England I have spent most of my time with Debbie (a second or third cousin). We are really similar, so much so that Stuart her boyfriend keeps telling people he is living with a blonde Debbie and a dark Debbie (this is referring to hair colour not intelligence levels). We have had a great time going out dancing, shopping, sun-baking and gossiping. I leave here on Thursday and am not looking forward to the farewell.

I will return….
to the land of my roots in August. Malta has many feasts during the year and one of the biggest is the feast of Santa Maria on 15th
August. I also really want to spend more time getting to know where my grandparents are from. I have picked up quite a bit of the language since I’ve been here and it is something that I don’t want to lose before seeing my grandparents again.
Well as always I am missing you all and have a big few weeks ahead of me traveling to Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia back to Italy, France (the south) and Switzerland. This should take me up to mid July then I’ll reassess the situation and may go after Chappo’s mate in Portugal for some work in a surf school.

Take care everyone, I’m missing you all lots, please keep the emails coming.
Xxx Loz

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