The great thing about Malta is the climate, and although it can get chilly in January/February – about the only months when it can rain – for much of the year the weather is warm,Â Â washed over by sea breezes that temper what would otherwise be a searingly hot barren island.
Coupled with that, the island is surrounded of course by the azure swell of the Mediterranean – meaning sea food is readily available – I’m not a huge meat eater. Add inÂ a proximity to Sicily and the wonderful Sicilian wines, cheeses, vegetables and fruits, the Mediterranean diet is as healthy as can be.
In fact, it is not the first time I have lived in the Mediterranean. Long ago, pre-China days, I worked for one year as a Twenties Holidays (similar to Club 18-30) Representative in Corfu, then threeÂ years as a Yacht broker, based in Greece during the summers and the Canary Islands during the winters. Here’s aÂ photo of me (left) duo water-skiing with my friend RogerÂ Souter (now the owner of a successfulÂ Manchester based PR company) at that time, probably in Paleocastritsa.
Indeed, I once sailed past Malta, sailing from Paleocastritsa in North-West Corfu, where I was living at the time,Â to Taormina in southern Sicily. The journey took five days – it should have been four, butÂ highÂ jinx and too much drinks the first evening at sea meant weÂ veered significantly off course inside the first 24 hours! We actually made Italian land fall at Catonzara, rather than Sicily, where I observed a very mean looking Mafiosi extract payola from the owner of theÂ Gelateria we’d just purchased ice-creams from. Â From there it was another 24 hours before I sighted the tip of Etna, just poking above the horizon at about 5amÂ the next morning. Pilot whales guided us into the Taormina harbor. Several were bigger than our yacht. I slept on the beach that evening, and raided the washrooms of the local five star hotel to clean up after five days at sea.Â Â The concierge was not impressed, but I got away with it.
Three years later I would be in Hong Kong, setting up what would become Dezan Shira & Associates.Â and I recall, sitting on that yacht in Taormina harbor that I should really go and have adventures in the Far East. I was thinking Japan, but it turned out to be China that presented the opportunities.
Today I walk the jetty along the local Maltese fishing harbours, just as I used to do thirty years ago in Greece. Greek fisherman in those days used to catch Octopus by lying down on the jetty and feeling underwater with theirÂ hands for crevasses between the rocks. Occasionally they’d pull out an entire Octopus, kill it by inserting a knitting needle between the eyes, then batter it for an hour against the rocks to soften the flesh. Now that can be done by simply placing the creature in the freezer – the ice crystals that form have the same effect – breaking down the cellular structure and making the meat softer.
Accordingly as time goes by I find it increasingly true that one’s life is often a wheel, it turns, and you find yourself somehow back where you started from.Â Â Thirty years ago I had a lot to do and a lot to prove. I’ve worked hard, and accomplished many things, yet find myself back where I began my expatriate adventures – the Mediterranean.Â Â It’s a good place to be to commence my next set of adventures and challenges, and look back on where I’ve been inbetween.