The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Gozo does not only belong to the Gozitans

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 08:13 Last update: about 2 months ago

…It also belongs to us Maltese.

Like many others I spent a couple of days in Gozo over the Easter period. Calling this almost pristine island ‘beautiful’ is an understatement. Its greenery, its shrubbery, the feeling of serenity is out of this World.  Even with so many people making their way to Gozo during the Easter weekend, it still retains its magic and charm, and somehow that 20-minute trip to Gozo pacifies the mind.

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Not only that.

I love the villages that embellish the abundant countryside.  Most hamlets in Gozo have managed to retain the peculiarity of the core villages.   The allure is there for all to see; the pretty bar at the corner of the street, the traditional pastizzar and the cute grocer probably crewed by the third or fourth generation as they bustle with ease.  

Not only that.

I am affianced with the lovely drive you can have without needing to stop a hundred times because of endless traffic jams.  The fact that a 15 to 25-minute journey would not include three or four building sites is great. Add to that the foliage and carob trees that accompany you during your trip and you can indulge rather than zig-zagging in-between tower cranes. 

Not only that.

The people are lovely, an aging population maybe, but the Island is still bustling and alive with business, trade and enterprise.  Restaurants and shops flourish and you can find prices that suits your pocket.  The lovely tea and coffee shops are there for all to savor, and you can sit and take in the beautiful spaces which are lacking in Malta

Not only that.

One needs to mention the hidden splendors there are. Just to mention one; walk to Sannap Cliffs (Munxar).  By God what a scene.  I walked there with my wife and it was like hiking through Malta some 20 or 25 years ago.  The air felt great, your mind can think with the rhythm it was wired to do so. Gozo is sprinkled with these gems, hidden, but at the same time there for all to see, to taste and to relish.

Not only that.

We are so privileged to have this peach. Malta is fortunate that part of its archipelago is ornate with such pretty areas. In some ways it is exotic and outlandish, colorful and unusual but equally enigmatic.  It gives citizens of this country a haven and an anchorage we so need for our social and psychological wellbeing. The Gozitan experience is special because the Island makes you feel irreplaceable and where your idiosyncrasies foibles and quirks can bluster.

Not only that.

The rituals are so unique in this Island. I am not just referring to the Easter day pageantry and rites that are so exact in their own way that they can look strange to the eye yet generate curiosity, like good art is supposed to.

But this little Island preserves other types of ceremonials, apart from the religious ones. I am referring to the social and community rituals that do not change. The siesta, the time for prayer, flashes spent exclusively with the family, instants dedicated to self and moments conferred to others. There is also a sense of trust we no longer experience in Malta. It is true that the inhabitants work hard, but they do take time to think about what they are doing as well – the gift of discernment most of us have chucked out of the window. 

Nonetheless, they remain welcoming and trustworthy. They have such a lovely attitude, hospitable and convivial like no other. Their value base is predominantly Catholic and they do try to walk the talk and dedicate themselves to God as they do to others with devoutness and piety. The way these people live is fascinating. 

Not only that.

There is something even more special about that Island.  The tranquility and the sense of peace seems to ooze out all the pollutants that come with living a profligate lifestyle. Gozitans have also managed to welcome such a sumptuous tourist economy without letting go of too much.  Going to have a pizza at Mekren Bakery feels like a déjà vu, one year after another the ‘disorganized organization’ remains, the taste lingers, the ejja he dawdles. It is an Island that wants to preserve itself and its people have done a great job at this.

Not only that.

The governance is respectable in this Island. Good health services, decent transportation and politicians are close to the people, they listen and they act. True there are blots of development but they seem to be organized and as yet do not create an overkill. Not only that, the national projects that are taking place don’t seem to disturb. Yes, I expect that once the road infrastructure gets back to a level we were used to (and equally so its signage) this might create some discomfort. But the way things are looking there is enough common sense in the leadership to do things the right way. 

Not only that.

The trip from Malta to Gozo and vice versa was quick, organized and safe.  The ships were clean, the wait was reasonable and the staff welcoming and polite. Even though on our way back there was one ship being repaired and there was a Force 7 wind to contend with, we arrived quickly and surely. 

So, why change a prosperous and efficacious formula? Why bother with a tunnel that risks messing up all of this? Why risk losing out on this well balanced community with a tunnel that will serve to glut the speculators, have an upsurge of traffic, gamble with the culture, decapitate the ethos of this Island? 

We know, it will be a road of no return.  The island will be spoilt forever. The spirit wiped out, wrecked and ruined.

Even though I live in Malta, Gozo is mine as well. Gozo is not only of the Gozitans. It is mine because it is where I, where we, go to clear our minds.  

What most politicians are after are the votes, the glory, the bequest and little do they know or are they interested in listening, aside from the (justified) groans of the people who have to commute day-in-day-out. This is a problem which could have been resolved 30 years ago if we had listened well-enough. There are solutions right in front of our eyes, better use of technology, more home working schemes, improved transportation, better commuting services, more ships and added trips.

Do not spoil ‘my’ Gozo.

Think beyond the immediate situation. Balancing out all that is lost with the little that is gained will surely help us see some sense. The tunnel is only digging oneself into a hole, and with it the heritage this Island holds close to heart.  For the sake of our national wellbeing Gozo needs to remain unspoiled – a tunnel will disfigure it in every sense of the word.   

 

 

 

 

 

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