Repubblika ta’ Malta is a collection of images captured by Giordano Fronte from the lovely island. you can check out the Print Gallery here. Malta is described in propaganda as being an idyllic “paradise on earth” island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Surely life is incredibly good over there!
If I were to describe Malta in one word, it would be frustrating. There is no doubt that islands are (were?) blessed with natural beauty, great weather and beautiful sea. I think the small size of the islands is, however, a big problem for people like me. It is clear that you can find idiots in every country, but in bigger countries, you can mostly keep away from them. You can frequent different places, live in different areas, and generally live amongst people that you like. Not so in Malta, every time you step outside of your door you are bound to experience some kind of ignorance, be it illegal construction, irresponsible driving, and unprofessional behavior. There is no deeply ingrained culture of doing things the right way. Rather it’s more of a “whatever, if it barely works then it’s good enough”.
I acknowledge that I have trouble really describing what it is that frustrates me and pains me so much about living in Malta. I also know that most Maltese genuinely love living in Malta, and whenever I have tried to speak out against the way things are done, the usual reaction is to try and shut me up and tell me that things aren’t so bad.
I inevitably realized that there was no way I’m going to change the culture of a country. One of the best pieces of advice was given to me by a Turkish cashier in a restaurant in Gzira. In one of my frustrated days the cashier, who was serving me some food, ask where I was from and what I was doing in Malta because I was complaining about things in Malta. He calmly came up to me and told me “my friend, if you don’t like the menu, change the restaurant”. It was a seemingly joking and simple comment, but it rang so true for me that that was the moment that I decided to leave for good, and sure enough three days later I left.
After this trip, every single person ask me: “If Malta is so bad, why do so many foreigners fall in love with Malta and want to live here?”. I think that’s a very interesting question that merits delving into.
First of all, Malta is a very very unique place, for many reasons. It has a rich and varied history having been under the rule of several nations and cultures. Its size and geography are also unique, as is the fact that Maltese people have their own language. I can definitely see how these exotic qualities can be such a strong attraction for foreigners.
Landing in Malta you tend to feel very welcome as people are very friendly and ready to help out, it feels like everybody treats you like family. This leads to foreigners saying hey, this is an awesome place to live in. Back home I’m just a number and nobody cares about anyone, but here everybody is so involved in each other’s lives, this is something special! but If you don’t speak Maltese there is a better chance of insulating yourself from the daily gossip and mannerisms that end up getting on one’s nerves.
I guess I’ve written more than I meant to, the reality is that I really struggle to put my feelings into words, and that is why I don’t frequently share my thoughts on the subject. I prefer to focus on the positive things I have in my life rather than acting all pessimistic. My feelings about Malta at the end of the day are genuine sadness for what was once really an idyllic place. I would love to say that I hope to one day return, but I really can’t see how the culture can change and the harm due to construction undone.