At times like this, thoughts of good things, happy things must be revisited. This year it’s even more urgent, as the global village seems to have descended into a state of global hell. Chaos, greed, hatred, mass killings, starvation, intolerance with others seem to be a rapidly evolving norm. In the big picture, Merry Christmas wishes ring hollow to millions of people throughout the world.
The value of our dollar against that of our United States neighbor is dramatically down. This means travel out of Canada, our beautiful country, is just not an option for us this year. That's fine with me. These days home is probably the safest, most peaceful place to be. I feel blessed to have traveled many times to other magnificent countries and small islands during the harsh winter days of North America.
It's at times like this it seems to be important for memory smiles to be dusted off and brought to the forefront. Once again, I return to the village of Qala, on the Mediterranean island of Gozo, to bring some sunny,active yet peaceful thoughts.
Each beautiful day there I would set out really early for a walk to the village square. I was looking for the mobile version of a corner store there; my friend Noel and his busy truck! He parks at the square at 7 am, and is there for a while, selling his wonderful fresh vegetables and various other edibles, including the distinctive soft Gozo cheese. My items would be carefully weighed on an ancient scale in the back of the truck.
But I forgot to tell you...on my walking route there I noticed all kinds of cloth bags hung on the outer doors of homes. This puzzled me for a while; later I realized there was a bread truck too. The bags had money in them, the baker would take it, fill up the bag with wonderful Hobz, the daily bread, and be on his way.
One of the things I love about small, remote islands is there's usually only two ways out of them, either by air or sea. This tends to ensure the locals work at being honest, delivering great service, and building trusted, unique businesses.
It would never have occurred to me to lock the doors of the villa. That really would send a message that I had no trust of people! Sometimes you need larger loads from the grocery store. On these occasions the owner would just set my order aside, and later on in the day he’d deliver them to the villa. He'd lug them up the stairs, open the unlocked door and place them inside. I was never home when he delivered. No charge for this service, ever. It was enough that I had supported his business.
After my shopping I'd head down to the pub at the square. The only person there at this time of day is a cleaning woman. She turns the chaos of the night before into an orderly place, setting everything to rights, mopping the ancient tiled floor, so that Frank Zappa, the resident dawg, has a nice clean place to relax. She makes the absolute best cappuccino as well, and I'm happy to give my 1 euro for this amazing morning cuppa.