Malta is an archipelago, consisting of 7 islands, of which only 3 are inhabited: Malta, Gozo, and Comino (with only two families, and one police officer, presumably to keep the two families in line!). On Tuesday we took a very hot, very bouncy ride up to Gozo, via a short ferry ride. On the way, I learned that one of our drivers was none other than the stepson of C.S. Lewis! Who also happens to live on the island, and is best friends with our host. Oh my…
The landscape grew progressively less urban, more green and floral, the dips and hills beginning to yield up stunning views of the Mediterranean. Our cameras were soon clicking.
According to tradition, Gozo is identified as “Calypso’s Island” (I presume that is more about tourism than anything else). From the tour book:
“Above Ramla Bay on a rocky rise, there is a small grotto that is said to have been a love-nest for… Calypso and…Ulysses.
Zeus intervened, and Ulysses escaped; I am not up on Greek mythology, so don’t know what happened next, but you can check Wikipedia for that story if you like!
“Although it is difficult to compare the current state of the grotto and its surrounding with Homer’s description of Calypso’s residence in the Odyssey, prehistoric terracotta remains dating from the Ggantija (The Giants) period (c. 3600 BC), have been found just a few metres from the cave entrance.”
Here is the world’s oldest archeological site, built by a culture of megalithic temple builders presumed to be giants—the oldest existing, free-standing structures in the world. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see this, since it used to be free but now was carefully gated off and requiring an entry fee.
Today’s Gozitans are certainly not giants (I’ve learned that Maltese come in all sizes, shapes and complexions), but they are a hardy breed: “These frugal people seem resistant to any adversity; their character is steel-like, tempered by privations and constant danger and, as a result of the frequent ordeals, they and their descendants have emerged strong and resilient.”
By the afternoon we were feeling less than resilient; temps hit almost 100, and we were wilting with dehydration. We quickly accepted the offer of Doug, Lewis’ stepson, to cool off in his pool, and ended our day tired, happy and stunned to be in such company. To his car mates, he gave a signed copy of the Chronicles of Narnia, and waved us off to collapse in bed with happy memories.
Source: Malta and Its Islands: Gozo and Comino, www.millermalta.com