Three generations of our family visited Malta!
by Incilay Golden
My husband and I in Gozo
I am Turkish, my family is from Istanbul. First time we came to Malta was in 1953.
When Malta was the headquarters of Southern Nato Command, my father was sent to Malta on duty. We all flew to Malta from Istanbul. I flew to Malta with my mother and my sister who was 2 years old at the time.
I was almost 7 years old, my mother registered me to school. My mother chose Sacred Heart School since it had dormitories. She figured that once I was immersed into an English speaking school, day and night, I would pick the language up immediately. I did not speak a single word of English! I was too young to start school in Turkey, thus I started primary school in Malta.
My mother was right. I learned to speak, read and write in English before I learned to read, write in Turkish!
We stayed for 3 years in Malta. By the time we left, all of us were fluent in English. We learned some Maltese too.
When we returned to Turkey, I was homesick for Malta for a long, long time. I remembered my friends, my school, my neighborhood with longing.
The clear ocean, the smell of thyme fields, the poppy gardens on the hill walking to Valletta.
I remembered picnics in the orange grove with my family. I remembered the artichokes that the nuns prepared for us at school.
I remembered my father's friends who flew model airplanes. I remembered the soccer games we attended. I remembered the beautiful tile floors of our home. I remembered the church bells, right behind our home.
I remembered the processions. I remembered the lovely Easter eggs in the display windows in Valletta. We sat at the coffee house outside, had ice-coffee by Queen Victoria's statue.
I remembered chasing the pigeons. I remembered getting our first potato-chips, with a small packet of salt included inside.
I remembered and spoke about it for years and years to come.
It took me three decades to go back to Malta.
During this time I moved to Germany, married an American teacher, had three daughters and started working at the American school. I spoke often about taking a trip to Malta.
Finally after 37 years, my husband and I and a group of friends from school, booked a trip to Malta.
I visited every place I remembered: starting from my Sacred Heart school and our home in Guardamangia Hill. We even found neighbors that remembered us from 1953!
We visited my father's former work place in Valletta. We went to the cake shop by Queen Victoria's statue. We visited the botanical gardens and took a boat trip to Gozo.
It was all as I remembered it. Beautiful blue sky, clear blue ocean, sun.
For a long time I thought that I had over-imagined all the wonderful things about Malta. It was all as wonderful as I remembered it.
My husband enjoyed himself and my friends did too.
Once they returned to Germany, they recommended it to their friends, and many more of our friends came on their own to visit Malta.
I was so happy to go back, that I decided to surprise my sister with a trip to Malta. She was very happy to return to Malta once again, after 55 years! We took in all the sights as well as visiting our old home and neighborhood. We had a wonderful time!
A few years later, my husband and I visited Malta again with a group of friends from school. They enjoyed it as much as we did.
Our trips to Malta were so enjoyable that we decided to visit Malta once again a few years ago, this time with our adult daughter.
We took her to all of our favorite places. She loved it so much, when she returned to Germany, she started to talk about getting a job and moving to Malta!
My mother, my sister and I, my daughter, three generations of my family love Malta and love visiting Malta.
When I am in Malta, it is like coming home. I do not feel like a tourist here. Malta is like visiting family.
I feel at home.
This story was one of 5 finalist stories in our first I LOVE MALTA CONTEST.