Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The Most Valiant of Knights in a Sea of Slime

Godforsaken Island!!!

Yes, yes, the island fever has set in.

I think what finally broke me was the shudders that run up and down my spine each time I hear the sound of a car peeling out. And this is a sound I hear quite often here, at least 10 times/day. Where are they all going? I mean, what's the big hurry?! I think the sound of a car peeling out is my least favorite sound in the whole world.

I'm oh so happy to be leaving for Spain (Barcelona) tomorrow.

But my last few days here have been really, really wonderful and full of the kind of solitude I had hoped to find when I left for Europe without a travel plan. The exception to my solitude came in the form of Nick (whom I hadn't seen much at all during my time here) and a German fellow by the name of Martin who was staying in Nick's guesthouse.

On Nick's last night here, the three of us went to a little bar and then headed down to Paceville (Fuego, specifically)because Martin had been there on Friday and learned that they play real Salsa and Merengue from 3-5 in the morning or so. Well, that didn't exactly turn out to be true on a Monday night, but the three of us were having a good time, Nick dancing sprightly with the goofy, slightly opened-mouth smile he wears when he's very drunk. At something like 4 o'clock in the morning, it began to seem to me that the entire dancefloor was covered with men--horny, eager, squinty-eyed men who seemed not to have seen a female in years of something like solitary confinement. So, lucky for me, Nick and Martin were hovering nearby and were quick to intercede when they sensed I was uncomfortable. At one point they nearly fought with a man who decided that 15 seconds was enough time spent dancing with a woman before it was okay to grab her ass. They were the most valiant of knights in a sea of slime.

After Fuego we decided to take a sunrise skinny dip (my first ever) in the Mediterranean. Wonderful. Martin laughed (well not really, though I sensed he was laughing internally) at me in my prudish Americaness (demonstrated by my unwillingness to remove clothing until actually in the water), but for goodness sakes, the sun was already up, and people were walking their dogs on the nearby strand. Plus, Malta is a pretty conservative, and I'm pretty sure we were breaking the law, so best to be subtle about it, no?

Today I learned that Saad (from the guesthouse) was detained for an hour and a half by the police yesterday because "he resembled a man who was wanted for stabbing a Maltese woman last week." See, if you talk to the Maltese, they will tell you that the only problems with crime here come from the Arab population. And to the Maltese, all Arabs are the same. The Arab population here suffers a kind of racism that I think could be rivaled by the United States maybe 60 years ago or so. Terrible. Saad said he eventually saw a photo of the wanted man in question, and that the only resemblance the two of them bore was their shared black hair and dark eyes. Again, terrible. But at least they didn't beat him like he said they were beating some of the other men (all Arab, of course) being held while he was there. More of the terrible.

I'll be heading to the beach one last time this afternoon. There is an oh-so-groovy little cabana near the local rock beach, where the owner (a curly-haired old hippy with eyes that travel in two different directions) plays music just wonderful to frolic in the water and bathe in the sun to...Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Grateful Dead, U2. Yesterday, I felt spontaneous tears spring forth upon hearing Marley's live version of "No Woman, No Cry." That song ALWAYS gets me, but I don't think it ever made me cry before. Where would we be on this earth without the comfort, the joy, the inspiration, and the sometimes heart-wrenching effects of music?

I'm waxing a little dreamy right now. I'm having one of those moments where I just feel incredibly fortunate to be alive.

And I'm really looking forward to Spain; I feel her reaching her fingers invitingly in my direction.

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