This little walking tour to discover some of the history of Qala,"my" village on the small island of Gozo, is interrupted only by my perspective on what I saw and felt.
As I think about it now, there is a sadness that comes over me, realising that the island has undergone dramatic changes even since 2011, when I was there. Perhaps it is better not to dwell on that, but really,I have to express my consternation at history being neglected and overturned at a rapid rate, all in the dubious name of "progress."
“Usually terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”
Stepping on history
I've always loved rocks. Even as a small child, I was absolutely taken with them, and that has never changed. Any time I see a small child pick up a rock and examine it, I recognise a kindred spirit.
Imagine my joyous and complete brain overload then, on seeing an entire island that is really just one huge limestone rock!
Not only that, but Gozo has had a remarkable history, that goes back at least 6000 years. In 1551 the Ottomans captured and enslaved the entire 5000 inhabitants and took them to Libya.
History is an in-your-face experience, everywhere you go, and everywhere you tread on Gozo
One of the old Gozo buses--sadly, no more
Benefits of being a walking visitor
Sometimes I wanted to hurry, then I would see a snail on a rubble wall, and would be fascinated. Sometimes I would just linger, looking at the beautiful limestone buildings, studying the huge blocks intently, amazed to find actual fossils right there, in the walls. You get the idea - walking can be a really slow way to get around, if it includes leisurely looking.
One can only see clearly, when one is going slowly,Quick motion creates a life-blur.
Goals for the day
I tried to explain to them that I was looking for the remains of the temple. They were also completely non-plussed, although one of them had a dim recollection of "something" in the area. By this time the crowd had grown, sensing a problem with this strange tourist. One bystander suddenly figured out that he knew where an ancient pillar stood! "just up the road" he said, or words to that effect.
My new police friends all put on their official caps to have a photo taken with me. I asked if there was much crime on Gozo, and one smiled and said,"This is about as bad as it gets!"
Eureka! I found it!
I ran my hand thoughtfully over the rough surface. I was a little dazed, thinking how much the people of Gozo could improve in their caring for these treasures of ages past.
The Hondoq sign
Heading for the cart ruts
I continued walking, turning through the town, aiming always for the square that surrounds the beautiful church. Now I wanted to find the mysterious cart ruts that I had been told were amazingly close to the village.
I made my way down the road from the square, shrinking away every time a quarry truck roared past, or a small car endeavoured to run me down. It really isn't much fun being a village pedestrian.
Then the familiar sign to Hondoq Bay appeared. I walked up the long hill, and down the other side, which leads to the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady Chapel.
I was shocked to see that the road, which is normally very quiet, was choked with vehicles of all descriptions. At first I had no idea what was happening, then realized a ceremony was taking place.
Chapel of Our Lady Blessing day
Blessing of the vehicles
There are numerous vehicle accidents on the islands of Malta and Gozo.
Church service in Malti language
I turned left on a track soon after the chapel.
The cart ruts--the plants!
In front of me lay an incredibly panoramic landscape of endless limestone, artistically decorated with an array of picturesque Mediterranean plant life.
Then, as my eyes adjusted to the beauty and chaotic variety of flora, I saw what I had come to find. There they were, well-defined cart tracks, carved into the limestone during long forgotten ages.
The Cart Ruts at Ras-il-Qala (Qala Point)
Looking out to Comino island
A heritage of ancient beauty
There are two great treasures on the island of Gozo: the first being the friendly, helpful people from all walks of life; the second is the glorious excess of ancient structures and artefacts that casually intrude on your consciousness at every turn.
Surely this rich uniqueness bestowed on the island should be the focus of attracting visitors to places like Qala? From my perspective, this seems very logical.
But, like all countries, the way that development happens becomes a government decision.