We wait in the street outside the hotel for Louis and his wife Lilly to pick us up. We're a bit slow to realise that we're standing on a bus stop. It should have been a giveaway that the buses kept stopping and the drivers looked a bit angry when we waved them on. Our first stop is Louis and Lilly's caravan where they spend most of the summer. It's parked on what looks to us like prime waterfront land, and they tell us they expect that the government will soon stop them using it so that the site can be developed. Lilly talks to their caravan neighbour who she tells us has twice won the lottery. We wonder why she's still living in a caravan, but apparently both times the prizes were rabbits. Of course they were. We haven't seen a live one here yet, and probably shouldn't expect to based on what we've heard in the few hours since we arrived. It‘s just as well they breed quickly.
We visit the cemetery in the village of Balzan, which is where Issy and her family lived before they came to Australia (the village that is, not the cemetery). The
cemetery has an Ebejer family plot which includes a plaque for Issy's dad who was the only one of five siblings who moved to Australia. We move on to the house that Issy's mum grew up in. An elderly lady from across the street comes out and tells us that she remember's her. Next stop is the house where Issy lived until she left, aged four. I feel like I'm stuck in an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?". We move onto a nursing home to visit Issy’s Aunty Lina, who was married to one of Issy's father's brothers, and is the only surviving member of the family from that generation. She's delighted to see us. Her sister's visiting her too, and produces some photos that we'd never seen before of Issy and her sister Louise as small girls. I'm a bit removed from it and I'm getting emotional, so I'd hate to think how Issy must be feeling. The lady sitting next to Aunty Lina says she can remember Issy's parents, and she's not even a relative or a neighbour. I'm starting to think that just about everyone in Malta must know just about everyone else.
We're taken to the club next to the Balzan church, where I get to sample Cisk, the local brew. A second cousin appears - a genuine Ebejer. He tells us that it's quite an unusual surname, and that most of the Ebejers in Malta are rich lawyers and doctors. The church is a hive of activity; preparations are well underway for the annual feast during which its statues will be paraded through the local streets. We're shown the font where Issy was christened. Outside we find the kindergarten that Louise went to, where presumably she commenced her training to become a rich lawyer or doctor. I think something might have gone wrong after that. Issy says that she would have become a rich doctor or lawyer if only she hadn't been too young to go to kindergarten here.
We drive back to the hotel through empty streets. It seems that it's siesta time, so we have a siesta too. I think I could get used to siestas. I'm tempted to suggest they implement them at work when I get home. I wonder what the response might be. Taking a permanent siesta isn't quite what I had in mind.
We wander south along the now very crowded waterfront promenade to watch the sunset. The "beach" is a succession of flat rocks with steps down into the water. We stop at one of the promenade's wall to wall restaurants for a Cisk and some pastizzis. The pastizzis are huge. I think Issy's mum must shrink the ones she gives us at home. The dinner menus all seem to have one thing in common - rabbit. You can get fried rabbit, grilled rabbit, boiled rabbit, steamed rabbit, and roast rabbit, and my personal favourite - rabbit with salad and chips and a half bottle of wine, which comes as a package for 16.90 Euro. I have calamari, which is superb. We wait for a bus to take us back to the hotel, but when it arrives it's full so we walk. This is a good thing. We certainly need something to burn off the obscene amount of food we seem to have managed to gorge ourselves on today.
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