During the "Repubblika" long weekend, four idiots and a criminally inclined 4-year-old, decided to wreck havoc in the remote and idyllic village of Gharb, Gozo. Remote? Just 5 -15 mins drive from Victoria, depends on who`s driving...( a word of advice: SOMEONE has a reputation for managing to squeeze 2 cars sideways through an opening fit for only one. The other driver, who was unknown to us, had the shock of his life on that day, 'cos he didn`t know that that was an encounter with a cross between David Copperfield ( Schiffer`s ex!) and Schumacher) Idyllic? Well, it was until... WE set foot there! This is the kind of pastoral village where the whole of village life centres around the farming industry, where the only audible noises around are birds, the odd field tractor making its way to field at the unearthly hour of 5a.m., and the church bells ringing. Speaking of church bells, in Gharb there still exists the quaint custom of ringing the church bells to indicate the time of day, a high pitched bell for the hours and a deeper pitched one for the minutes in quarters...quite picturesque during broad daylight, hellish if you have to spend a sleepless night being reminded of every passing quarter of an hour, like I did!
Kevin, Amanda, Nicole and Baby Bocc aboard ship.
The Gharb skyline with the parish church as its most prominent feature.
Well, what did these four (5ive!) visitors-from-hell do on their holiday? To start off we went to find our farm house, luckily we had already visited another one just below. See The Gozo Experience for more stories. We found the key to the farmhouse in the keyhole of the front door. In Gharb people sleep at night with the frontdoor unlocked, the key inserted from the outside! They never heard of break-ins! (I want to live there!!!) The farmhouse is superb with high lofty ceilings supported by arches, hard-stone floors, original but well-maintained apertures, brass beds, real antique furniture like Nanna had inherited from her mother (who in turn had inherited them from hers), floral-patterned floor tiles in the upstairs bedrooms and ceiling with huge timber crossbeams! I loved it at first sight. There was just one hitch though. These farmhouses are great in summer 'cos they are airy and cool, but in winter they are dreadfully cold and humid, which means that we had the electric heaters on all day long to keep the rooms warm. At night the bedrooms were heated by a method cleaner to the environment ;)
5ive had to eat, drink and be merry on such a long time... Let`s see what goes on day by day...
Walk from Rabat car-park to Rabat centre... Time taken by common mortals: 5 mins; time taken by 5ive: almost an hour
Stop at Jubilee`s as mandatory as Mass on Sunday if not more! Poor waiter mopped up floor more than just a couple of times from Junior Member of 5ive`s mess.
Junior Member is here seen as terrorising Senior Member Kekinu with Bubbles Powerpuff and her abominable Bacteria.
Junior recharging her batteries for the onslaught!
Who`s under those sheets? Guess, guess, guess! Why, its me of course! Only me would be so tucked in, the others don`t feel the cold as I do...
Wonder of Wonders! Monsieur Kekinu and Mademoiselle Amanda giving us cookery lessons. Lesson 1: How to chop-up a chicken.
In the meantime the rest of us are providing the entertainment.
A novel way for uncorking wine bottles.
Dinner is served!
Nicole playing Doctor to Kekinu`s ear as Amanda watches anxiously on...
So, that`s the end of the first day at id-Dar ta` Pietra, in Gharb.
Day 2! (Nicole`s Birthday! Shussh!!!!)
Nicole wakes up at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. come hell or high water. We aren`t so timely as her, so she always wakes us all up, not all anyway...there were SOME who spent more than their fair share in bed... Nevertheless, once myself, Jurgen and Nicole were up, we had to think up something to while the day away... We prepared breakfast, had our showers, (in a freezing room because the electrical cord of the heater wasn`t long enough to reach to the bathroom), dressed, played peek-a-boo with mum`s cosmetics... hidden Jurgen`s mobile... and the car keys... and, eventually we set off for the day!
The first morning we went to Victoria (again!) to visit the shops...oops! A new parking system was recently introduced in Victoria whereby any visitor wishing to park his/her car has to: 1. obtain a regulation blue cardboard "clock" from God-Knows-Where; 2. place darned "clock" on car dashboard indicating time of parking the car. All fine and well except for one tiny detail, where from to get the clock?
"Hey, Mrs! Didn`t they give you one on board ship??"
"Errrmmm... nope. The sea was too ****** rough and I suppose they were on the starboard side feeding the fishes..."
"I`ll tell you what then Mrs. Hop over to the Police Station and ask them for one, you never know!"
So Jurgen parked his car illegally, and remained inside it lest any warden should dare approach. Nicole stood with him under protest 'coz she really, really, really wanted to come with Mammina, while Mammina had the sprint of her life trying to get to the police station in record time. Not so bad if it weren`t for the fact that: 1. I am chronically unfit; 2. My asthma was playing up; 3. It was further than I thought, which meant a race of almost half a km.!
"Good Morning Officers, could you give me a couple of those parking clocks PLEASE?" ( Big Sweet Smile )
Repeat above question in a SLIGHTLY louder tone.
"Ok, Miss." (with a look that says: 1. I am not deaf; 2. you disturbed my coffee-break/ beauty-sleep/ snooze/ 40 winks. Delete as appropriate; 3. Don`t you dare come again here Missy!)
Sprint back to car, find hubby and daughter fighting like cats and dogs:
"That`s MY teddy-bear."
"NO! MINE!!! MAMMINA tell him that that`s MINE!"
Forcibly separate the two, dish out instructions to demented hubby (he must be to fight a 4 year old over a teddy!) regarding "clock", pull out daughter, make her wear her red coat and off to Rabat. PHEEEEEEEEW!
A couple of hours later Kekinu and Amanda call us to ask about lunch. We had booked a Fenkata for lunch in Nadur... Remember "Swiet!!" ? Same place. Tell them where to meet us and wait for them at, yepp you guessed it, Jubilee`s.
Drive to Nadur takes an unprecedented detour as we had to go by the back roads of the village as the main road had subsided and was a good couple of metres down a high hill...
The Waitress was already waiting for us, and greeted Nicole as usual as we entered if not for one TINY detail: the enormous Tigger that Nic insisted to bring along. Well, it`s her birthday after all! Nic spent some time chasing her, or rather "helping" her out. Fetching and carrying the bread and cruets. Well, for once we could sip a glass of wine in peace and quiet while munching on some appetizers. Nothing grand, just bigilla (a bean paste served with a peppery hot sauce), gbejniet ta` Ghawdex, (Yes! I know that they are made from unpasteurized goats` milk, and I would never let my daughter touch them, but PLEASE! they are absolutely divine!) galletti, fazola bit-tewm u t-tursin, and hobz biz-zejt.
For starters the gents had "the usual please" which is spaghetti with the rabbit sauce. I had a very good broccoli and cauliflour soup, while Amanda had the equally delicious mushroom soup. One taste of the latter will make you vouch never to touch the dehydrated stuff coming out of packets again, ever!
The maincourse soon arrived and we were tucking in "con gusto". Amanda doesn`t eat much, I guess Nicole ate more than she did, I ate my fill as usual, but Kevin took a "light" turn. In fact I had seen him eat far more on other occasions. As for Jurgen, no comment! He ate enough food to feed an army.
During eats we were entertained by Jur`s and Kek`s bickering over who gets the last piece of the darned rodent. I solved their problem by dishing out the last few pieces: the cooked heads! It was a sight to remember, seeing two mentally-challenged buffoons tossing cooked rabbit heads to and fro, neither wanting to eat it ( I don`t eat it either, but Mum and my brother fight over who gets to eat this "delicacy").
As for the potatoes and greens... the least said the better. The waitress "almost" skidded on an errant potato...
Dessert? U-Hum... let`s just say that the mints that serve to "sugar" the bill, were, uhmmm... smuggled away to be consumed at a later time at the farmhouse. The nuts and cheese and biscuits were devoured by Nicole who had eaten more than just her fair share!
That evening we had dinner at the farmhouse, where I cooked. I did a good but very simple bolognaise sauce substituting half of the beef mince with pork mince. It was liked by all, if only it weren`t straight after a fenkata!
After that we had Nicole`s party...
...the usual about waking... got unceremoniously woken up by "ARRRRRRRRRGH! MAMMINA!!!!!" at the friendly hour of 6:45am... ain`t it nice to be on holiday?
Breakfast done, we simply had to go out, even if just to stop Missy from tearing up the place. So it was off to Lunzjata Valley, one of the few places to remain verdant during the long hot summer.
(if you squint a bit, you might just make out Jurgen swinging on the swing at the far back... but shushhh! we don`t wan`t him to notice, do we?)
The view up near the Jordan lighthouse... we went up there on what must have been the windiest day of the year. We just made it to the last ship before the ferry-crossing service was suspended due to ill-weather.