The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Friday, 19 July 2013

A Tale Of Summer And A Restless Sea

We have had a steady crescendo of heat these past two weeks. There is not much respite – except by the sea. We headed to one of our favourite beaches last weekend and enjoyed a refreshing swim. While the Mischief Maker and my husband went to talk to the people from the local Sharklab, I relaxed in my little pop-up tent. Or I tried to. The beach wasn’t crowded but it was hard to drown out all the voices. I looked around me, picking out different nationalities: the Italians, toned and tanned and the loudest on the beach; the Germans, sturdy and tall and smelling strongly of sun-tan lotion; the Brits, mostly middle-aged or elderly, reading the newspaper while trying desperately to get a tan; the Scandinavians, as pale as alabaster and with bodies like seasoned athletes; and, at the periphery, alone and aloof, a small family of Africans, their skin as dark as coffee beans.
First Swim of the Year (15)
The boat people they called them, 12 or so years ago, when they first landed on our shores. Now the adjectives are not quite so kind. From sub-Saharan Africa they are leaving their countries and their families, crossing the ferociously hot desert until they reach the countries of the Maghreb. From there they get on whatever rickety boat or ship will take them, hoping they will cross the water to freedom. Their aim is to reach mainland Europe but sometimes these islands, and a few others, get in the way. And sometimes the sea has other plans.
First Swim of the Year (19)
It’s willful, this sea that surrounds us, and it conjures winds and waves out of the placid air like a magician draws rabbits out of a hat. Sometimes it just claims their lives for itself.There is no media coverage, no headline news; nobody cries, nobody sheds a single tear. There are laws against racism, of course, here and in the rest of Europe. But this continent is a strange place. Despite the European Union, despite the efforts of all the intervening years since WW2, national pride in all the different countries is alive and strong and national idiosyncrasies even stronger. We take offence when others stereo-type us, yet we delight in pigeon-holing ourselves so tightly that we prove the stereo-type correct.
First Swim of the Year (21)
We frequently forget it, but we are living in troubled times. A great  migration has started and my country-men, and anyone else who thinks we will emerge from this unchanged and unscathed, are living in a fantasy world. This turbulent sea has never been at rest. It has seen empires rise and fall; cities crumble to dust. It has claimed thousands upon thousands of lives without compassion or compunction. This placid sea, that gently curled itself around my toes last Saturday, has no heart or conscience. Throughout its history, I do not think that there has ever been peace on its shores. Even today, in those easternmost cities as old as the Bible, the fighting rages on.
First Swim of the Year (22)
It is proud, this sea, and it has basked in the importance of its own lime-light for millennia. Perhaps it has started weaving together the final chapter of its chequered history. And perhaps we are all pawns in its game. Whatever the outcome, it would be wise to learn from the past before looking to the future.
Gnejna Bay (28)
Because the boat-people have come and they will continue to come. And perhaps we will be required to go. Because we are just transient beings. But the sea, the sea goes on forever.
Gnejna Bay (35)-001
Location: Gnejna Bay, Mgarr

13 comments:

  1. Loree, I feel as though I am watching your spirit and intellect bloom before my very eyes.

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  2. I feel the same as Suze! I don't know for how long I have been reading your beautiful writing but I have seen it--the expression of your spirit--grow by leaps and bounds.

    There is much in this that touches on delicate subjects that could be easily misconstrued but your thoughtful and elegant phrasing is as crystal clear as...the sea? On a good day.

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  3. Excellent wirte up Loree. This is really a very delicate situation and even Pope Francesco has taken it to heart. Proof of this , his visit to Lampedusa ... the very first island that these, boat people, as you called them, encounter on their long journey towards what they hope is a better world. There's a saying in Maltese which says, "il Bahar zaqqu ratba , imma rasu ibsa", translated: The sea has a soft belly but is also headstrong. I hope you get the connection, it is a saying my mum always used especially when she heard of Sea disasters :)

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    1. I love the Maltese saying. Thanks for sharing it.

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  4. Beautiful and thoughtful post, thank you

    Rivers flow until they reach their base level. I feel the same is true for human populations.

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  5. Islands such as yours have attracted people for millennia.......when I am in Greece I enjoy seeing the different nationalities that come to islands and trying to guess whether folks are from Germany or Great Britain, or Italy — I have a friend to says that footwear gives it away.

    Trying to imagine all the ships that have arrived on Malta's shores, some of them conquering, some of them discovering...

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  6. Excellent and beautiful descriptions and thoughts Loree, really enjoyed your write up :)
    Thank you!

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  7. I think rasicsm is a form of ignorance, the fear of something people don't know. I had to laugh about the Italians being the loudest, (in my street too !) Mr. G. has an amplifier as voice as nearly all Italian have ! But I didn't recognize the Germans, they usually have big bellies and are not that tall, and most of the male Brits are tattoo covered dating from the 70th, lol ! There is such a variety to watch on a beach !
    Very nice post !

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  8. Dearest Loree - your post touches my heart...change is inevitable but for certain some things remain the same and history constantly proves that it repeats itself - it has since the beginning of time. I believe we are racing towards an end though and we are seeing much of prophesy being fulfilled all over the world. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful words...you write so well by friend. Have a great day.

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  9. You really should teach history. You paint such vivid images with your words...

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  10. I don't know why, but I'm really touched with your statement, "Because we are just transient beings." Truly we are, we never know how long we have or when we leave this Earth.

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  11. A very touching post, Loree. Wishing you a beautiful weekend! xoxo,B

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  12. Such a beautiful post Loree, it seems that the sea and the people on the boats are something the whole world need to think about. We face a Federal election soon and the plight of these boat people, or asylum seekers as we call them, just might change the government. I love your thoughts and sentiments about the sea x

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