Last week, and for five days there were carnival celebrations on the Maltese islands. Gozo had celebrations in all the different villages, and then for several days also in Victoria, the main town. I’ve never been one for carnival, I had always looked down on the wildness that I had seen snatches of on TV, but I never knew it could be good fun too and here on Gozo it is a very family oriented festivity with plenty of choreographed dancing, some of it beautiful to watch, and very colourful. So many children and young people taking part. They work hard to get their moves all year long, it creates a good community spirit and comradery and that’s got to be good for a town. I’m just going to share some of my photos, in the past week I did not do anything on WordPress as I was out sick, and then I was touring Gozo with a friend, so no time or energy to write and post, but back on track now and I have plenty of new photos of Gozo to share.
GETTING TO KNOW IR-RABAT
St.Francis square and church, this is where the library is found also, beside the old hospital on the right. It is a busy square and the café at the corner is where one can find the locals drink and chat. In the old hospital, besides a beautiful courtyard is a place where regular exhibitions are held of work by Maltese or Gozitan artists.
Close to where the National Research Library is situated, I found this little bookshop, it was closed as it was around one o’clock, but in the window were displayed the sweetest and most beautifully sculpted little portrayals of life on Gozo, people in all sort of work and play, I will visit there again and hopefully the shop will be open. The old door is one of much found style here, the arches are plentiful in local architecture, I think that it looks real nice. It is in the little streets like the one above on the left that one finds all these treasures, and there are plenty of these streets.
In another one of those narrow streets I came upon a lady, her name is Victoria, she was making her lace in the doorway and we got chatting, seems I can take classes after all, she is going to talk to her teacher around the corner, that would be lovely and I will take the opportunity if it presents itself. The interesting thing was that the lady hardly spoke any English, wish I could speak Malti but so far only a few words like bonju, and triq….
Another interesting shop I came across was this one where the man was restoring religious statues, he did a marvellous job by the look of it. The place smelled of paint. It is interesting about the culture here in Gozo that religious objects are still part and parcel of everyday life. I entered another little shop just beside the St.George church where a nice man called Martin informed me about the sisters (a religious order instigated by Don Bosco in Italy called the Salesians) that are still working with orphans and young people right here in Victoria, he told me to go and see them and they would tell me all about the more social aspects of the place, as in what sort of social work is being done and what problems, if any, are most prominent here on Gozo. I will take him up on it and go see the sisters. If you live in a place you have got to know a bit more about the people, the culture, and the community. It is what interest me most beside the architecture, the plants and insects, and the limestone.
What a pleasant and most interesting morning I experienced, now more than ever I believe that if I want to get to know a place and its people, all I have to do is talk to whoever is open to chat. It is amazing the knowledge you gather that way. And what a lovely and interesting place this island really is.
OUR IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURHOOD IN VICTORIA
It is now two weeks ago that we arrived in Victoria – Ir Rabat, and we are living in a spaceous flat in the shadow of the Citadella – we are not quite in the oldest part of the town with its little, narrow and beautiful streets, but we are close enough to hear, loud and clear, the bells of Santa Marija, the Citadella’s cathedral, this is something I value very much. Both my father and grandfather were bell ringers back in Belgium. The houses in the street here are architecturally interesting, typically built in the Maltese style with its closed balconies, some made of wood like you see in Malta, some made out of stone which you see more on Gozo. I have read that these balconies provided women, who may not have been walking out so often in the past, with the possibility of watching the world go by providing food for talk later on in the day! Personally I find these balconies a very attractive feature. Where we live it is not so quiet, but that does not matter, I want to see life here and experience it. I want to draw it and photograph it, and I want to interact with people, with the Gozitans. A class that I was hoping to attend, in lace making, fell through yesterday, I was disappointed – I even brought my bobbins with which I used to practice making Flemish lace with me. So now I need to try and find other ways to interact and meet the local people. I talk with shopkeepers, librarians, and anybody I meet and seems open to talk – I think that is a start anyway. As with my container garden I need to be patient with this too.
Everyday I take a long walk, not only to buy fresh produce from a vegetable stalls, or to get fish, but also to visit the library, a local museum, or just to get the feel of the town, there is so much to see and take in, I keep discovering new things; buildings, streets, interesting architecture, churches and other aspects of life in Victoria. It sure is interesting. And there is so much to read up on the history of the place, luckily the local library has a good variety of books on the subject.
I would just like to share some of the beauty of this lovely town where I am living at this moment. There is so much to explore, everyday brings something else interesting. Like in the old part, the picturesque narrow streets leading to St George’s Square and cathedral. There is a museum there that is very worthwhile of a visit. I will be spending more time there. So much to learn about the history of this place, the people and their traditions. Luckily we will be here long enough to explore.
Gozo Gossiping, a sculpture by Joe Xuereb in Globigerina Limestone