You’d think that over the accumulated years of living on an island that’s 14km by 27km we all would have, at some point, gotten used to just how small Malta is. Wrong. Every now and then we all catch ourselves being completely dumbfounded by just how pocket-sized we are in both social mentality, and geographical context.
1. When anything more than 10 minutes drive is considered “far away”
Try telling people who live abroad that driving to the Gozo ferry is an unnecessary hassle, and they’ll laugh in your face. They’ll do so politely of course, thinking that perhaps you’ve just made a very bad joke that was lost in translation, but they’ll laugh nonetheless. To them, the idea that a 20km commute is exhausting is simply an alien concept.
2. When you frequent the same five places, because there is nowhere else to go
Do you want a wild night out? Paceville. Do you want to go on a good shopping spree? Sliema. Do you want a University Degree? Zonqor… err Msida. There is literally no alternative to many activities because there is no space for the alternatives to flourish.
3. When you realise you could probably schedule a personal meeting with the President in under a week
This one always hits home when comparing foreign dignitaries at international conferences with our own. This statement is not intended to demean the importance of our heads of state, far from it. It’s more to do with the fact that most of us are friendly with at least one family member of a past president, and as it stands, are probably only 3 phone calls away from meeting the current one.
4. When local cooking shows have your exact same utensils
Tupperware, ladles, borom and all, everything is just like the one you have at home. The major downside to this comes when you try to replicate the meal, and mess up horribly; you cannot possibly blame the failure on not having access to Farah’s high-end kitchen. It also speaks volumes about the variety present when it comes to shopping in Malta (particularly for things that aren’t pastizzi).
5. When directions are just a string of memories.
Do you want to visit some quaint little wine bar in Birgu? Has a tiny bistro in Bidnija tickled your fancy? You may not know its zip code, but the directions you’ll be given will be a series of anecdotes, and landmarks strung together; and if you’ve been driving for more than a year, you’ll know every single one of them.
6. When someone dies and you realise you’re Facebook friends with 100 of their cousins
Although we would love to dispute the stereotype that all Maltese people know each other, we can’t. It’s not entirely true, of course, but we’re never more than one friend away from the relative of just about anyone on the island.