This is a catch-up post.  It’s out of order chronologically.


July 28

We take off from Mgarr harbor over to the Blue Lagoon between Comino and Cominito.  The water here really is spectacular.  It gets crowded with party boats, tour boats and private yachts that want to anchor there.  We just spent enough time to go for a swim and do some diving off the boat.  I touched one of the numerous little jellyfish and felt a slight sting for a while afterwards. 


We haul the anchor and cruise around to the other side of Cominito.  Andrew and Avner see an opening in the cliffs there that leads into the Blue Lagoon.  They decide to try to swim through it.  I’m left at the helm of Tocayo, doing circles as they swim into the cave.  Suddenly Avner screams, “Ow! Fuck!”  Andrew doesn’t know what’s going on and I can’t hear them with the distance and the engine noise.  It becomes apparent quickly that they are swimming back.  They climb back on board.  That’s when I find out that Avner’s been stung by three jellyfish, and badly, too.   He said it felt like teeth jabbing into his skin.  A very scary sensation when you are swimming into a sea cave.  


We first try to treat his stings, which are turning red with raised, whitish centers, first with vinegar and then with olive oil.  We weren’t trying to make him into a salad, but we didn’t read that olive oil is the recommended treatment until we had already gone ahead with the vinegar.  


We actually do make a salad for lunch after motoring over to the North side of Malta.  It’s delicious and tastes nothing like Avner or jellyfish.  (I think)


After lunch we come into Grand Harbor Marina.  It is like something from a different world.  There is a megayacht docked at the end of the marina.  Mega- is the classification above Super-, if you can imagine.  The background is all European style houses, beige castles and fortifications and flags flying everywhere.


The marina is across the water from Valleta, Malta’s capital.  So, after getting ourselves squared away, we take a water taxi across to town.  Oh joy! a boat ride!  The water taxis look like squatter, shorter Venetian gondolas and cost 4 euros per person.  That’s 12 euros (US$ 327.50) for a ten minute ride.  


We hike up to the Hotel Castille for dinner on the rooftop.  The view is nice, but the food is less than spectacular.  It must have declined in quality since the plot book was written.  This is perhaps the only restaurant I’ve ever been to where they offer you a basket of bread, but only so that you can remove a few pieces for yourself before they take it away.


We wound our way back down to the waterfront through the mostly dead streets.  The real odd thing was that there weren’t any lights on in the windows.  It seemed like the whole town had been half-abandoned.  


We can’t find a water taxi back across.  So, we ask a family eating dinner outside of what looks to be a garage for someplace where we could find a cab.  The father of this family decides to take us in his car, saying that we can pay whatever we want That turns out to be a pretty good bargaining tool. 


On the way over he goes on and on about Malta – “St. Julian. Beautiful girls. Dancing”  – and peppers his comments with Italian words like Alora and Ma Donna.  At one point he asks about “Of, off, ba – what’s his name”  


“Yes, Obama.  He is beautiful man.”

Mr. President, you’ve got a fan in Malta.


July 29 – We send Avner out to explore the city while we take care of some boat stuff.  We visit the chandlery nearby where a nice woman named Charlene takes down our order.  We get courtesy flags for the next several nations that we will need, charts, pilot books and  various odds and ends.  


We meet up with Avner that afternoon.  We have lunch in a cafe above the Vistoria Gate.  They have bottled shandy there. The food is not worth mentioning.


We then set off across Valletta to catch the ferry to Fort Manoel.  We passed by the bedecked main shopping street of town and the cathedral.  Our objective in Fort Manoel was to find the Royal Malta Yacht Club.  We pictured ourselves sitting in an air-conditioned bar trading salty tales of the sea with our fellow mariners in charming Old World environs.  We spent hours walking around in the heat trying to find the place.  The had moved.  We finally found the Royal Malta Yacht Club by the Msida marina – it was housed in a truck trailer and closed.  It was a long, hot wild goose chase.  (Normally long, hot and wild would be fun.)


We got a taxi back to the other side after some searching.  There are no roving cabs in Malta, you have to call one.  Everyone seems surprised when you ask if they can call one, too.  Dinner that night was in Don Berto’s, the restaurant looking out over the marina.


On July 30th, Avner and I goto see the Tarxien temples.  These are the ruins of temples built some 3000 years ago.  The ruins are poorly preserved, however.  Most of the carvings in the temple stones have been chipped off and put in the museum in Valletta.  In their place are replicas that have been cemented on to the ancient stones.  There’s no god explanation for any of it either.  Avner is upset and is about to pull out his bullwhip before I can convince him to let the poor people be.


We have a long trip back between waiting for a bus and walking back through town to the marina.  Av and I stop for lunch in the small square in Vittoriosa.  Andrew has been writing his very long email encapsulating the last three years of his life the whole time we’ve been gone.  We all pitch together for some boat cleaning before dinner.  We eat again at Don Berto’s and meet Charlene, the waitress.  She is now one of my best facebook friends.


This is Avner’s last night.  It has been great having him out.  His knowledge of Italy was a nice counterbalance to our collective ignorance of Malta  And that boy can shine him some stainless steel, I tell you what.