As the wind picked up and kissed my face with cool ocean mists I felt transported back to ancient times. I was en route to Malta, the heavily forted island nation, like so many voyagers did in the past. The lush tiny country sprang out from the horizon like a floating oasis as we motored our small boat towards the harbor of Valetta.
Upon arrival I was met with smiling faces of the dock men and the enticing smell of grilling shellfish from the nearby waterfront cafes. The warm sun and clear skies made both white stoned buildings and olive-toned people glow. And as I ventured further into the crowded streets of Valetta my senses worked hard to take it all in. The marketplaces and cafes fueled my nose with exotic flavors I could almost taste. From italian oils and turkish spices to blends of french coffees and buttery english toffee, they mixed and mingled through the tiny corridors. The people mixed and mingled too as I heard on one tiny street men argue in Italian, teens flirt in French and young children play and shout in Maltese. A true melting pot thousands of years in the making, from the ancient Romans and Turks to the modern French and English, you can see evidence of these cultures all across the island. I stopped briefly before high noon and watched in admiration as the locals exited the streets and filed into cathedrals and churches for prayer. The church bells rang out in that universal tone as I left the cityscape and walked deep into the countryside. The low hills and terraced fields flourished with the smallest of birds and animals all chirping happily in the hot afternoon sun. I wiped my brow of sweat and found a perfect place to have lunch under an old fig tree.
There I pondered Malta and felt hope for this world yet. Despite a history of bloody conquests and wars it's people and politics had always prevailed and they look not at their past despairingly but look to the future together and with individualistic delight. I took a deep breath. There is something in the air around this island. Steeped in history it's no wonder this tiny but beautiful country has been sought out by conquering emperors and contented vacationers alike.