Just spent three weeks in Malta and Gozo, what can I say, apart from being very happy and comfortable with reaffirming my Maltese roots. I’ll be honest from the start, I did the tinniest bit of climbing and the maximum amount of free diving. The Maltese side of the family are reassuringly still doing their thing, a bit of farming, some work, too much eating, and family stuff. It was easy to drop right back into this life, talking serious one second, nonsense the next, catching fish and being mellow with the help of a few beers. My Maltese climbing friends were full of smiles and laughter, generous and warm like the climate. The editor of Pareti climbing mag was their doing a piece on the climbing, and it was reassuring to see at least one climbing editor-scribbler who can climb rather than just talk and copy/paste. Andrea climbs 8a regularly and has done 8c he was happy with his stay and we hope to see more Italians coming to our small islands. On the day I met Andrea, Simon Alden (Malta climbing club) and I re-discovered a great cliff, and we started doing routes, they will be very good. I also re-discovered the hard work involved in cleaning and bolting and have to thank Gozo Climbing association for the bolts- thanks Xavier. My tally of new stuff was only one new route, but it is the best corner crack on the islands, a gem that sparkles in my memory. I did a bit of bouldering, two new things, super good on the Boulder beyond Mars, again I was reminded how good and photogenic these are, these problems were hard or I am useless.
|a Grouper, dead, in my stomach, I'm a non grouper friednly predator|
Mainly though I just went swimming, wake up at dawn, cup of coffee, munch some bread, walk down to some rocks and cruise the water. I took a couple of Barracudas which was a first for me. Barras are very scary for a lotta people but in truth they are just fascinating. I swam in two balls of thousands of Barras this trip, and just can’t explain what it feels like. To be inside a swirling mass of these agile predators is just very interesting. The other way you see Barras are in long lines, this is maybe more menacing, they seem more alert and eager for something. The lines are half a dozen or more high and hundreds of meters long, and you can just swim straight into them. The biggest Barras are more solitary little groups of 3 to six, and become more than a little menacing, they are often hunting when you see them like this, and can sprint in unbelievably fast to kill. If you are lucky and I was, you might see ones of a meter or more, the biggest one I saw flicked towards me as we were both cruising a gully in opposite directions, I yelped silently! Anyway saw lots of fish, an Eagle ray, Dentex, Tuna, mostly I just swam with them, but I eat a few fish as I am a predator when in the water. My head is full of the colours of the sea, hard to communicate this too you, if you don’t know what I mean, or the muted way that colours merge, the lack of sound but the presence of something that takes its place, it’s so good! Anyway sometimes up to six hours in the water, and I don’t feel good yet, a long way to go before I become proficient. And I want to get good. My last days swimming was at the Blue Grotto on Malta, an Abseil in, a difficult choppy entry and then glorious caves, boulders and sandscapes, with cliffs above me in the air and cliffs below me in the water. Boats full of tourists came flitting in an out, but they took care with me, thank you. As they passed I’d raise an Octopus for their interest. To get out was a grade 5 climb which I started with a big pack of gear on, and trainers for footwear, tough like this! A lovely day spent in the company of 3 Malts, 1 Swiss, 1 Pole, and me, 1 GozoScot. Last night in the comfort of my mountain home in France I dreamt of Fish, quelle surprise.