Malta: Oct.2015

Lace-making by hand. Only older women make lace by hand - the young women don't have time, 'though they're now taught this ancient, complicated and time-consuming skill in school.

There are 359 Catholic churches in Malta and Gozo for a population of 410,000 (2013), and most are extraordinarily ornate. We lit candles for our Mom's at this one.

John's buddy.

John's buddy: what really happened.

The parish church of Santa Maria in Mosta, better known as the Mosta Dome. In 1942 while 300 people waited to hear Mass, a German bomb a bit bigger than a 5-gallon pail crashed though the roof, bounced off the wall but failed to explode and rolled across the floor. You can see where the bomb came through the dome - it's about a third of the way down the dome, directly below the dome centre from the angle this video was taken. There's a replica of the bomb in the sacristy off to the side of the altar to inspire the devout and mystify the curious.

Windy day 1

Windy day 2

Prickly pears grow all over Malta. They were imported from the USA in the early 1800's for use as a windbreak and for their fruit, which is used to make a local liqueur.

Practicing for the races - this boy has raced his horse 'Midnight Supreme' (big name for a little horse!) six times in the last six months, and won three times.

There's a third tiny island in Malta called Comino. Up until a few years ago it had a total population of 4. From the tower shown here we could see a place in that little bay in the centre-right where people were swimming, so went down to find it.

Here's the little swimming bay - one of the most beautiful (and emptiest) swimming areas we found in all of Malta.

Candle for Kieran.

We left Malta near the end of October - Roxanne went back to Canada to visit with her Mom and our kids and John went on to Tuscany for a Zen retreat. We'll meet up again for December in Ottawa, and are planning to leave for Sri Lanka in January. There probably won't be anything new on this site 'til December, so see you then!

John went off to a month-long Zen retreat at an old restored convent called il Convento in Tuscany. The chef Vincenzo produces pasta that is other-worldly...

There are miles and miles of trails through the mountains and chestnut forests around il Convento. They pass by ancient ruins and tiny terraced stone-walled fields on the sides of the hills, long-abandoned and overgrown. Long daily walks help a lot to balance and absorb the intensity of all that meditation...