This flight is like any other flight. Due to the frequent travel required by my employer, flying is an experience nearly as normal as riding in a car. The routines are the same. The speeches given by crew differ little between airlines, whether domestic or international. Yes, this flight is like any other, until it is time to land.
When the plane descends below the cloud line and the earth below becomes visible this flight separates itself from all others. The skylines of New York, Chicago, LA and other large US cities are admirable, impressive even. Tall modern buildings dot the landscape across these cities. Daytime arrivals are enjoyable with the suns rays turning the windows of the large buildings into earthly shimmering day-stars. Night arrivals are my favourite. Cities look different at night from above. More peaceful. Less daunting. Almost inviting.
But there are no such skyscrapers to be seen as this flight prepares to land. The train yards and concrete jungle of big cities are replaced with the glistening blue Mediterranean sea and the equally vast pale, tan hue of limestone as old as the earth itself. From afar it is like approaching an era past. The hot breath of history is unavoidable as you gaze over the whole country in one glance. Home sweet home.
It never gets old; seeing the 3 small islands of the Maltese archipelago from above stir up nostalgia and excitement like no other place I land. Malta, the smallest country in the European Union is little more than a big rock in the sea, but it is my home, my place of birth. Sitting south of Sicily by about 80 miles, Malta calls out to any visitor with it’s deep and authoritative voice of time past. It beckons your attention with it’s long preserved, wise and thoughtful architecture.
It is under assault. Malta has become an unwilling victim of greed and carelessness. Hastily manufactured hotels with modern external finishes dot the otherwise naturally splendid coastline in a way that brings to mind an unmatched 8 year old choosing his own clothes for school. But Malta has an inner core of strength that is deceptively strong if quiet. Ne’er-do-wellers would be well advised to consult the chronicles of yore. The soul of Malta always prevails.
As one tunes out this contemporary distraction and returns focus to the glory of The Great Rock, faintly in the background you can hear the festive call of Malta through it’s golden sandy beaches, majestic rocky coastlines and clear blue waters. Malta speaks directly through the window of a plane 10,000 feet above it’s hardened soil. It speaks clearly and I can rarely wait to answer back. Malta għal dejjem. Malta forever.