SOME INITIAL MALTA PICS: http://picasaweb.google.com/nundabud/20091030#
Quite honestly, I don't know how it got to be Friday. There are a few hundred people here from all over Europe and even a few from Algeria and Palestine. Algerian Arabic is REALLY different from what I speak.
This is a truly beautiful place. It is a 5-star hotel/resort. Maltese people are extraordinarily friendly and helpful. The Maltese language is really a Semitic language written in Latin script. So it looks like you can read the words but it's difficult.
Because the islands that make up Malta have been inhabited for so many centuries, it is really heavily built up. Everywhere you look, from the seashore to the hills is covered in buildings. The seacoast is irregular and there are many bays. Last night we had a dinner cruise that went out and around all the fortresses from as much as a thousand years ago. This is where the Knights of Malta (the Templars) had a stronghold and also the Knights of St. John Hospitaller.
The cruise was a bit of a disaster. We were all really hungry after a long day of workshops and anticipated a "real" meal. Instead, an Asian caterer irregularly brought around little snacky things. So we were still in search of a meal when we returned to the hotel at midnight but even room service had shut down for the night.
Yesterday morning, I lay out in the sun for an hour or so in the morning, after having breakfast with two people from Finland, one of whom had studied at Columbia in NYC for a year. He is a sociologist working for the Finnish governement and also a musician. His colleague is an attorney working for human rights.
There are many really fine people here but in fact, I feel like Malta is a stopover on my way home. I am in-between my sabbatical and home, in a sort of twilight zone. I'm here but not here. I don't have the energy to engage with people after the intensity of the last week in Timisoara. I am still in daily contact with friends from Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Poland and Montenegro. They definitely own a piece of me.