This week I’d like to dive deeper into island culture and how it has directly impacted my life. Above is a picture of some standard fishing boats off the shore of Malta. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and is the 10th smallest country in the world. They have a whopping 122 square miles of land consisting of three separate islands, the first is known as Malta which in my experience is the younger more updated side of the three. Next is Gozo which is full of old churches, and other historical buildings. Last, is the island of Comino that contains a place called the Blue Lagoon which is a massive tourist attraction as it contains some of the most clear waters you can see on Earth.
What brings me to Malta is that my Father was born here in 1943. He lived here for about 8 years before taking a three week trip on a boat to come to the U.S. through Ellis Island. He traveled with just his Mother and 9 siblings. His Father came through a year earlier to get settled in as he had a friend who was already doing well here in the states and offered him a job. Eventually upon arriving things went well for them and they built a home in Michigan that my Father purchased after my Grandmothers passing. Luckily my Father is still in good health and in 2018 my wife and I, along with 3 out of 6 of my brothers planned and went on a trip back to Malta and it was my Fathers first time back since he was a child. His memory as an eight year old was amazingly intact as he led us through the streets to his old home and to the nearby bay where his Dad would fish for a living. We even got in touch with some of his cousins who still live there and they treated to a couple fantastic meals.
As we learned in our recent lesson, on islands, fishing tends to be something the culture revolves around (“Island Culture”, 2020). For my Grandfather fishing was his ticket into the U.S. and he used a boat like the ones pictured above to do it. According to my Dad he would take a couple of his boys out with him to help with the fish and keep him company. However, one key thing that you had to know before you could go fishing with him, was how to swim. Remembering that this was probably around 1949-50 my Dad recalls being tossed into the bay off the dock and had to learn to swim quick. To note, it probably has nothing to do with trauma as a child but my Father hates the water and boats to this day along with all of his brothers who are all well into their 70’s now.
My experience in Malta was definitely different than my Father’s original and I think he has better memories of the place now even though he does think fondly back at his childhood, and I’m sure he’d tell you himself that nearly drowning has nothing to do with his irrational fear of the water. The food there was great but if you don’t like seafood then your options are slightly limited. Next if you say you don’t like rabbit then I’ll tell you they have McDonalds and KFC and many more so you’ll be A-okay. In my opinion, and I cringe a little bit saying it, but it tastes like chicken. Definitely a noticeable difference in the gamey flavor of the meat but overall I recommend trying it if you ever visit. Another interesting thing about the culture in Malta that I found out while visiting is that they use to be a British Colony so just like most countries in Europe, English is their second language. However, their English is extremely fluent and a lot of times as I would talk to someone I noticed a British accent.
Island Culture. Psu.instructure.com. (2020). Retrieved 20 April 2020, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2041071/modules/items/27977878.