Thursday, May 15, 2014

Malta Diary - part 1

Being away from the Internet, WiFi and e-mails is helping me appreciate the social media a little more. We take it for granted when WiFi is so easily accessible. But when it's not available, you feel like you're living in the 1950s or beyond.
Well even at home here in Malta for a family visit, I have no access to the Internet, and so these entries on my blog are probably going to be few and far between.
After a 4-plane flight from Bend to Portland, to Washington DC, to Frankfurt and to Malta, jet-lag as usual took its toll on me, and I needed a few days to recover and get back to myself. But thanks to my IPad, I was able to type as much as I wanted and save everything for future use. Keeping journals and writing articles for a Maltese newspaper as well as for the parish Bulletin is something I do on a regular basis., and so it is automatic for me to start typing at every opportunity of free time I have. 
In the middle of May, the temperatures are pretty comfortable for Malta at this time of the year. However it will soon be warm and humid as May gives way to June and then to July and August, which are the hottest months of the year. My first impression of Malta is definitely its congestion, with lots of cars on the road, with finding a place to park anywhere is always a Herculean task. With over 400,000 people living on an island that is 18 miles by 8, this makes for a the third most densely populated place in the world, only surpassed by Monaco and Singapore. And with the influx of many tourists and the illegal immigration from Northern Africa, the population keeps growing, and congestion gets bigger and more complicated.

Two main issues are dominating the news in Malta at this time. The first one is the European Union elections being held on May 24, and the second one is the upcoming World Cup in soccer being held in Brazil, starting within a month. There are 30 candidates running for elections to take the 6 seats available for the European Parliament, a highly prestigious position which helps make important decisions in Brussels that effects all of Europe. Each country in the European Union has a number of seats proportionate to its population. Our country has only 6 seats, but they are fought for tooth and nail, and even though they will all represent Malta, there are usually 3 members from each political party in Malta, although it could very well be 4 and 2.
The interest in soccer in Malta is truly fascinating, with many of the fans rooting for either England or Italy, but since the matches are being played in Brazil, the time difference will have a definite effect on the general interest, as most games will be held in the middle of the night, Malta time. Granted that most matches will be replayed over the next day on TV stations, but there is a bigger sense of excitement when following a soccer match 'live.' Usually the host team is always a favorite, and so, Brazil seems to have the upper hand. They usually are one of the strongest teams, and they already won the World Cup five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Italy won the World Cup four times, in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006, while England won it only once, in 1966 when it was held in England. May the best team wins!

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