Slow and Steady

August 24, 2020

The view from our friends home:

I really thought that delivering a sensory full tale of my move to Malta would read easily and be very descriptive. Those are the highlights that everyone wants and that I want to be able to deliver. Right now, I am personally on sensory overload trying to figure out anything that lives outside the confines of our home. I am so excited to be here, and I also know that patience is a necessary attribute that I had to pack in my suitcase in order to come here.

I am really proud of myself for being brave enough to make this move. And, I am so excited and honored that the move we are getting to make is in a paradise of a location. It is gorgeous here. Busy, fast paced, crowded, but gorgeous. There are views of the sea everywhere basically. I have not been more than just a couple of miles out of our home. There is so much to do and see and there is time! We just moved here. We are not here on a short-term lease. We are here as a permanent move. We are here with the intention of making Malta our home. I keep reminding myself that baby steps are all I need to take right now. I will become more city savvy, and adapt to the European way of life eventually. I am so open to this culture and the people have been so kind and generous. This will be something extraordinary. But it will come slower than I think I expected. This is because of me and my own pace of getting brave and curious.

Before we got here, I spent so much time looking at Instagram photos of Malta and watching YouTube videos of Malta. I made up ideas in my head of how easy it will all be because it’s so beautiful and fruitful. I knew friends and even strangers would want to see what I’m up to over here because of the magnificent level of opportunity for change. But in making an actual move here,  it will require  balance and  patience. I will make friends as my children get into a school and make friends. I will join certain activities when they are in school. But, what I’m not going to do is put a lot of extra pressure on myself to stay constantly busy and be always out and about. It is move slowly as I integrate myself into this new space. It’s also wonderful to take it in slowly and meaningfully, with great intention and with an open heart and mind. I believe this might be the most important key to this move. Take it slow, take it all in, share where I can, and let it integrate fully into me as I go. There has not yet been that moment of being homesick. I know that sounds strange, but I’m not homesick. I really like it here. I miss friends and I certainly miss family, but in this time in history, we have all been locked deeply into our confined spaces and the friends and family have stayed far away. Only a very select few have been seen since March and here we are on late August. I felt almost as far away living on the south side of the city as I do now on the other side of the world. Social media makes everything seem much less permanent with distance. Maybe I’m kidding myself, and maybe I’m not.

Slowly, very slowly I feel like the turtle who is just barely bringing my head out for a look and then wham! A car comes from the opposite direction that I’m looking and almost runs me over. That is so far how it feels here. I knew it would be crazy with people driving the opposite side of the road, but it’s really a full sensory overload for me. Every time I can bring myself to even look up from the cab, I feel like we are about to have a head on collision. It’s all I can see. And when we are walking on the very narrow sidewalk, holding both children’s hands and trying my best to keep them tight to the inside, it is all the more terrifying as the cars drive fast down the side closest to us and that comes so close to the curb as they do.

Making the right-hand turn requires going across traffic. The right turns used to be the easy turns and the left turns were the ones to watch. Except generally speaking, most left turns especially crossing more than one lane of traffic, came with a traffic light to help you get around. Now, in order to turn right, the car usually has to go beyond two lanes of oncoming traffic. A stop sign means very little here and now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve seen a street light yet! I have seen one, but they are so little, they don’t hang up high over the streets. They are stand up lights.  Mostly, I’ve gotten to see big round-a-bouts, and stop signs that must be somehow revolving or with a visionary cloak over it because no one seems to use them or notice them.

I am very nervous to go out alone with my girls just yet because I really have no idea how to navigate. I don’t know how to order a cab. All the years now where people use their phones and call an Uber…I’ve avoided that to this point. Uber does not exist here, but there is a company called Bolt. Scott put my Bolt account into my phone, but I have yet to actually use it. We have our brand-new bus passes, but I don’t know where to catch it or where any of the buses go, or what app I have to use to figure all that out. I am not at all tech savvy and while Scott is at work now, it feels nerve wracking to be the one to get out and about and figure it out. I hear stories here of being on the bus and getting pick pocketed, so my first attempt at a bus ride will not consist of only me and the children.

Today, Barbara was kind enough to come and pick us up and take us to the stores to get some necessary items. From there, she went back home and we are taking a super lazy day. We will go to our landlords house this evening for a BBQ.

I am reserving the right to get out and explore on the weekends for now. I’m not ready to be the leader with my girls in a foreign country. I am so lucky that everyone speaks English. I’m having such a shut down on the driving situation, I can’t begin to imagine people that come into other countries and not only is the driving outrageous but you can’t understand anything anyone says. With each day that I am here, I gain more and more respect for the people I have met along the way that moved from their country into mine. It takes so much more courage and grace than anyone can possibly understand if they have never done anything similar. Where I come from, a lot of people don’t want foreigners to come into their country. They are not at all welcoming the way that people have been toward me so far. I understand more already why people that do come from other countries tend to find other people from the same region to be friends with. They understand where they came from and what it took to get there. I heard one couple in the grocery store the other day that sounded like they had an American accent, but I did not ask them or confirm it. I decided that for now, I will try not to look for the Americans. Also, I know that there are not very many of us here anyway. The ones that are, are likely here with the company we came with. I want to embrace the culture and immerse myself with the locals. I want to learn their way of life instead of trying to carve out my own in this beautiful land. I already feel like a little European Grandmother putting my clothes on the clotheslines outside to dry. I want to learn what they have known for so long and passed down for centuries. This place has so much history in it.

I emailed a woman about taking Mediterranean cooking classes. She said she will begin again in September. She has a few cook books out. She said she starts by taking us to the farmers market and picking out fish. I would very much like to learn from her, and from anyone else who is willing to teach me the ways of this country. I’m hoping to take tai chi classes that are offered right down the road and I’m looking forward to taking my first paddle board excursion soon. I am excited to make the friends that are destined to show up in my path. I know there will be as many as I am open to drawing in. This life is up to me to create it. That is powerful. What do I want my life to look like now that I am living in the sunshine 24/7? The only thing I can do right now is remind myself that Rome was not built in a day and neither will be my new life in Malta. There is time to get to all the things I’m hoping to get do, God willing.

Speaking of sunshine 24/7 it is hotter than I can explain here. I have sweat more since I have been here than ever in my life. My pores are wide open and I have given up on wearing make-up because it just runs right down the face. There is no central air conditioning in these houses. All the houses are old and rich with history, but not rich with air conditioning. There are little individual units in several of the rooms in this house, but we only turn them on when we are going to be in there for a while. Right now, I am sitting at the table with two fans oscillating. The screen doors are open to allow for the trade winds to enter. I really adore this house and think we made the right choice. It’s difficult choosing a home from another country having to rely on the realtor who doesn’t actually want to sway you one way or another, but still offers some good advice and lots of videos. The house we almost chose was right in a busy area, I would have been very overwhelmed being there. Right now, this house has become my solace. It is my safe place and it is a little piece of Heaven. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable and beautiful. The energy in the home makes me feel welcome.

I’ve lived in a house before that was super haunted and old and we did not feel welcome at all in it. It was the scariest place I’ve ever lived. This is exactly the opposite, thankfully. That old haunted house was infested with giant rats too. It was a beautiful little house that we were so excited about getting…until we moved into it. Holy moly craziness, it was so creepy. Of the four girls that lived there, only one actually spent time in that house. I stayed there one night the whole time we lived in it. I remember lying in my bed and I had a box on the floor with papers of some sort in it. I never fully unpacked into that house. A rat was in that box and I’m watching the papers move around as the rat is trying to get out. I opened the closet door once and a rat had choked himself on a shoe string and was dead attached to the tennis shoe. One time a different rat jumped out of the silverware drawer when we opened it and ran up the wall over to the stove and then ran down into the eye of the stove. The rats were not what made the house haunted by the way, but it was tangibles creepiness that people can understand why I’d not want to live there. We only lasted a semester in that house and then some guys moved into it and came out saying it was crazy haunted and they moved out shortly after as well. The house ended up being burned to the ground. Who knows where those ghosts had to go off to from there. It gives me the willys. I won’t even go into the actual haunted stories because I still want you to read my blogs! I think of this only because Malta is so old, and so many wars have been fought here. So many dead bodies have been buried here. So much history and so much loss. So much strength and so much resolve lives deeply into the structures of what created the cities here.

Homes here in Malta can easily be over 400 years old. This home is considered one of the newer homes. I have no idea how old it is but it is not hundreds of years I don’t believe. I think we live in a newer area of builds. The landlord grew up here as a child. She is so lovely. I think of that often as I make my way down the halls and look into the different rooms. I wonder which room was hers, and what sort of memories she made in this house. Hopefully they are fond memories. It feels that way in the manner she has introduced us and shown us around it. She says the house is meant for a large family to enjoy. I love that.

Ok…that concludes the rambling of today. This weekend I plan to take the bus and do a city tour. I want to visit the beach and I want to go see Valetta. Baby steps…

3 Thoughts to “Slow and Steady”

  1. Jan Marcussen

    Very interesting! You are adapting well to a multitude of changes and that can be exhausting.

    1. It requires a much more experienced traveler than I have ever been. So, my starting point is really quite far behind a lot of other people, especially Scott. He travels so much it irritates him how naive I have been. It’s just not any territory I’ve explored before. So, it is more overwhelming than I thought.

  2. Elke Hawkins

    Remember the new experience of going to college, and realizing that joining a sorority was a good way to “connect”, get the hang of things … and then branch out? Now that you are in a new country, consider the value of Expat Groups that can provide contacts, tips, and tricks! Hold onto your wonderment as you learn to connect with your new “home”. ❤

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