A friend pointed out to me that I’m advertising that I’m away which my insurance company might not like as it attracts burglars. So I just wanted to point out to any burglars who are reading this that a) my men are still back at home and work from home now and b) my stuff is crap – honestly not worth nicking. Not even my tools because you’d have to clean four inches of plaster dust off anything to get to the tool and by then you’d have lost the will to live let alone sell it off anywhere. Save yourself the bother and burgle somewhere else instead.
Anyway. My first morning in Gozo I spent mostly sleeping, dreaming that that horse faced actress from Sex and the City had come to stay at Amchara resort while I was here and was complaining that her room hadn’t been painted the specific shade of gold she had requested in advance.
I awoke this morning at the equivalent of 6am English time – a consequence of my body clock timed to when André has needed to get up for work the last few months. Also a cockerel was announcing the start of the day anyway so he clearly works in the film industry too.
I’ve had a peek outside the lovely apartment from the balcony in my bedroom. It’s like Juliet’s balcony – straight onto a wall of bright pink borgonvilia (can’t spell that, can’t be bothered to look it up) and if I turn my head to the right I can see the beautiful pool of the resort which I am going to deflower later. I can hear crickets and birds and there are palm trees outside my window, along with a stack of interesting things my sister is growing in little pots (that’s not as dodgy as it sounds..I think they are courgettes).
Nay is going to take me to something called Um zjah zjini – which sounds like a euphemism for one’s lady parts .. And if it’s not then it should be, so I shall be using it from now on for such matters. I’m sure it’s not spelled like that but Maltese is a mix of Arabic, French, Italian and more so it’s not the easiest mix of letters to make sense of. (Nay says it’s spelled ‘Mġarr Xini’)
Looking around the apartment I have a sense of what is to come. There is an omenous looking product pot called ‘Colon Cleanse’ on the side board. I have no idea if you drink it, eat it or hose your chocolate wizwam with it but it might as well be called ‘Bum Vim’ for all the appeal it has to me.
In the bathroom I borrowed my sister’s toothpaste – no ordinary McCleans type stuff but something to do with green gel clay and essential oils! It tasted fine actually. Now I come to think of it…I might need to double check that was toothpaste and not some sort of hemmorhoid cream or something. It was near the toothbrushes and I just kind of assumed. Crap.
I have got into the spirit of the place by bringing along my crystal deodorant. I have owned this lump of crystal that you wet and rub under your armpits for 3 years now and it has neither a) got any smaller or b) got any more obvious how it works. I bought it on the internet. As far as I’m concerned it’s magic. It’s supposed to be better for you than conventional deodorants. It seems to work. I don’t know if that’s science making it work or a magic fairy spell cast on the crystal but it’s been a very economical way of banishing B.O.
So….Nay drove us to Um Zjah Zjini as promised. The drive down gave me a chance to get a sense of Gozo for the first time. It’s a beautiful island – quite arid and Biblical in its vistas but also lush in some places with plenty of flowers, cacti and interesting trees. The architecture reminded me of different cultures from Europe and I saw elements of French, Italian, Greek and Spanish mixed together. But Nay tells me a lot of what I was seeing were new builds. You wouldn’t know – as they use the same building techniques and materials from hundreds of years ago – big sandstone blocks, beautifully carved – so it’s hard to tell old from new. All very lovely. The feel of the island is much more relaxed and quiet than the mainland of Malta. One of the differences you can’t miss between Gozo and say, the Greek islands, is the Maltese really love a good wall. There are so many walls here. It’s hard to explain why they stand out or what other countries have instead at the edges of things as I’ve never really noticed, but the Maltese do walls really well. We passed an old aqueduct with a missing bit in the centre that I assumed had fallen victim to an old earthquake or something but apparently people just nicked bits of it to build new walls with.
Gozo seems to get into the hearts of anyone who comes here. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie came here and fell in love with Um Zhah Zhini and borrowed the whole bay to film a movie in (‘By the Sea’ if you want to look it up). As Nay drove me down into the little bay, I could understand why.
We parked up and she treated me to the first of my last two ‘proper’ meals I am to have on the island at a little fish restaurant by the sea. I ordered barracuda, which tasted like chunky sea bass and Nay had the most delicious, fresh calamari.
As we waited for our food, I noticed several plastic bags of water hanging in the trees above the restaurant tables – like the ones with goldfish in you win at funfairs…but without the goldfish. Nay explained that the Maltese people believe these ward off wasps. All I could think was how much I wanted a pea shooter or a caterpault so I could burst one over the heads of the punters below. But that, folks, is why I’m not really a grownup yet.
Over several hours we caught up on the months that we’d missed in each others’ lives, sipping fizzy water (ilma bil gasse – I am trying to learn a little Maltese) and listening to the waves. Afterwards we went for a swim in the bay, floating and chatting like we were sitting in two invisible arm chairs with our feet up.
In the evening we were invited out by one of Nay’s friends for an impromptu BBQ of sorts – cooking a type of fish called Zambuki (I want to call it Godzuki every time) over a camping stove on the back of a truck! Fried in light breadcumbs and garlic, it was heavenly.
But we were all full before we could finish so went for a quick stroll for ice cream which makes no logical sense whatsoever other than we all know there is a separate stomach for puddings. I declined my own ice cream because I am positively saintly these days, but was given a bit of theirs and must admit Nay’s chocolate orange icecream with sprinkled nuts was to die for. We sat by the edge of a harbour, surrounded by twinkly lights, legs dangling over the sea. I was just reflecting on the gorgeousness of the day and the food and how tonight really might herald my last solid poo of the week (as tomorrow we begin our juice fast at Amchara) but suddenly I got an all too familiar and omenous tummy ache that signalled I’d eaten something that didn’t agree with me. Practically running for the nearest loo I commanded everyone to stay outside and sing loudly for a bit. Not sure if it was unfamiliar fish, salad washed in water that I’m not used to, or just ‘travel tum’ but I rolled my eyes at myself as I thought how I had started the ‘tea poo’ experience a day earlier than planned and felt slightly cheated out of my last solid poop of the week.
Nay tells me that a colloquial phrase on Gozo for pooping is ‘making cake’. I commented that this could lead to all kinds of scenarios where one is left expecting real cake only to be incredibly disappointed, if not traumatised.
So…today was an unexpected day of pleasure, holidaying and exploration (and eating) which I thoroughly loved every second of. Tomorrow is when the real hard work starts. The first yoga class is at 8am. We don’t get our first juice until 9am. Nay has warned me several times now that she can get really grumpy on fast days. We’ve agreed to be honest with each other if we need some alone time, but I’m still a bit scared. When I get hangry I turn into a mean old chimp that my family affectionately call ‘Thatcher’. I get really cross if my lunch is an hour late. If I’m deprived of food I can get so bloody angry about it I really can’t cope. Nay and I discuss if this is to do with the fact they’ve now proven that DNA stores and passes on the traumas of our ancestors (that’s true that is), and since we are descended from peasant stock, our ancestors may have faced starvation many times and so food deprivation sets up strong anxiety in both of us. We’ve vowed to keep busy this week – do every class at Amchara, tour the island, I will get back to my swimming training now that I’m getting my strength back and my lungs clear from infection. We’ve got to try not to kill each other. Hard to imagine feeling like that now after such a gorgeous day, but I will keep you all posted on our juice intake, poop output and mood levels so those of you who have that kind of brain can chart our progress. Will one of us cave and sneak off for a Crunchie? Will sisterly love be enough to conquer the hangriness of a 5 day juice fast, living off liquidised green ‘stuff’ like people from space in a 1970s TV version of the future? Or will it all end in squitty disaster with us coming to blows over whose turn it is on the toilet? Tune in for the next instalment to find out how a chubster like me copes with being denied food for the first time. You have been warned…tomorrow’s blog may contain a LOT of swearing.