NoeHill: Venice to Malta in 2002

Friday 14 June: Marsaxlokk

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Maltese Cross of the Knights of Malta

We took the bus to Marsaxlokk, a small fishing village on Marsaxlokk Bay, Malta's second largest natural harbor. Many colorful fishing boats, called luzzus, are tied up in the harbor and, on the quay, some fishermen repaired their nets or traps. Typical of these boats is the "eye of Osiris" painted on both sides of the prow. Although devout Catholics, Maltese fishermen carve or paint these pagan eyes to ward off the devil and protect their little boats. A quayside open air market offers lace and tee shirts, sweaters and compact discs. A number of restaurants ring the harbor and we ate under an umbrella, admiring the peaceful scene. The village church may have been interesting but renovation scaffolding blocked our view of the ceiling and upper walls.

The only bus line between Valletta and Marsaxlokk runs through several small towns: Marsa, Paola, Tarxien, Zejtun and Bir Id-Deheb. All looked like they might be worth a stop, if just to savor small town atmosphere. We noticed that there would be a festa in Zejtun over the weekend and decided it would be fun to come back tomorrow night to experience it.

None of the buses seem to have doors, so it can be hot or cold or dusty depending on conditions outside the bus. The drivers often decorate their dashboards with family photos or religious icons according to their own taste. Our driver, young and muscular in short shorts, displayed pictures of Jesus and Mary, as well as a large Rambo sign.


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