ANOTHER SIDE OF MALTA: DAY ONE

1 ALLEY 5122NOSM

AT TWO MINUTES BEFORE SIX IN THE MORNING, the steeple bells on the Lunzjata Parish Church chime ten times. I make a mental note: “What the…?” I am holed up in a 500-year-old house with stone walls two feet thick, tiny windows to contain the weather outside, an arched vaulted ceiling 25 feet high, and staircases chiseled by hand from massive slabs of stone. The double front doors, a thick wooden affair meant to keep out more than merely weather, seals itself with a massive steel rod which holds the door shut, that no SWAT team could ever penetrate (without using C-4). And just inside those doors is another set of glass doors: these, meant to allow light when the wooden doors are left ajar, and also to contain the weather—heat in winter, a cool breeze in summer. All the windows, as well as other doors that lead to outside areas, like the walled courtyard or the rooftop terraces, have wooden shutters on the inside. It can get pretty dark in here.

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