March 11, 2010
What all my travels have taught me is time is relative. It is a culturally embedded construct. So when a Maltese bookshop owner told me “The Maltese are always in a hurry. They rush about, earn lots of money and spend it. The Gozoans (inhabitants on the neighboring island) are much slower. But they’re amibitious, too. They save what they earn,” I realized ‘slow’ is relative, too.
Just paces from the capital of Valleta’s slow food restaurant, the Malta Experience, a movie theater nestled in a grotto, boasts of compressing the island’s 7000 year history “in just 45 minutes!” I had to laugh. Indeed, time passes differently here than in Germany. As Andreas and I rushed toward the busstop to try to catch the bus, the hotel shuttle that allegedly arrives at 9:30 am to take hotel guests to the capital, pulled up to the curb.
“Why are you running?” the bus driver’s twinkling eyes revealed his amusement. “Our bus leaves at 9:30!” That it was 9:38 am showed how German my thinking had become. 9:30 is 9:30 in my mind. 9:38 is as close to 9:30 as the Maltese need to come!