June 20, 2007
Today, my last full day in Malta, was a mixture of peaceful and stressful. At breakfast I met a new guest at the hotel, who is a private tutor (to make money so she can travel) and a travel writer (which doesn't pay her much). She is currently embarked on a trip which will take her across Central Asia--including five (I believe she said) of the stans (Turkmenistan, etc.)--and she will end up, finally, in Vietnam. The land masses she is covering on this trip, along with those she has already covered, will add up to a circumnavigation of the globe, land-wise. She looks to be perhaps a little older than I am. She says travel is addictive.
I also met a young couple from Sydney, who are spending several weeks traveling in Europe--they have come to Malta from Italy--before heading to the UK to settle in for a while and look for work. Because they are citizens of a British Commonwealth country, they were able to get 5-year work visas fairly easily (though that doesn't guarantee getting work, of course.)
Then, while emailing and posting the Travel Log at Caffé Café, I got the unnerving message from my credit card company that I needed to call because they suspected fraudulent charges to my card. Sigh. I tidied up what I was working on, bought yet another international calling card (because I wasn't smart enough to know how to use the payphone without coins to make a collect call to the company, which I was supposed to do), made the call, and got told the offices were closed! Huh? Wouldn't you think the fraud department would be open 24 hours a day? (Noon here, remember, is somewhere from 3 to 6 a.m. in the US, depending on location.) So I went and had my lunch and finally ended up at the American Embassy, trying to find somewhere I could make that collect call, because I figured if I got through on the calling card, it would run out of minutes in the middle of the call and nothing would be resolved. (And as a matter of fact, when I tried to call the company again this evening, on another issue, that's exactly what happened. Chip-controlled payphones don't know about collect calls.)
So kudos to the American Embassy for letting me in, through security, up the elevator and into an office to make the phone call. It took about 20 minutes all together, long enough to eat up a calling card at the rates they charge here. Got the problem taken care of (they had blocked a hotel charge I had tried to make, thinking it fraudulent) and the information noted (again!) that I am out of the country and will be making charges out of the country. The kind gentleman who let me use his office to call noted that he had also retired, but that he kept getting called back to do short-term assignments in various places, normally during the hot months. His home is in Colorado, not too far from my niece and nephew-in-law Daphanie and Gregg--he said they had 300 inches of snow this past winter. I mentioned having lost weight from being on my feet all day long, and he said he has lost 30 pounds since getting to Malta!
After I left the embassy, I wandered over to the bus terminal to see if I wanted to make the run to Cospicua to see the church. I loitered for about 15 minutes, and the bus in question never showed, so I didn't wait any longer. Decided I'd go back to the Asti, rest a bit, then do a bit more emailing just before the cafe closed.
Hanging out in the coffee shop and emailing; sitting in the shade at the Upper Barakka Gardens and reading; even checking the Agenda Bookshop to see if they have Eduard Mörike's Mozart's Trip to Prague (is that the right title?)--these are relaxing and peaceful activities. Worrying about credit card issues from several thousand miles away is not.
It keeps raining in Northeast Texas, which those of you in Northeast Texas already know. I'm not there, you also know, so you can't blame that rain on me.
I'll spare you an ankle shot today. It feels better yet, but looks pretty well just as hideous, though I can now actually feel the ankle bone on the outside of the ankle, so that's a bit of improvement too.
Tomorrow morning, I need to leave the Asti around 7 a.m. or shortly thereafter to walk to the bus terminus and take the bus to the airport. I checked a cute little central London map the Air Malta folks gave me, and it looks like the hotel I'm heading toward is not far at all from Paddington Station. As long as it's not raining, it should be an easy walk--even with the backpack on my back. Certainly it should be easier than scaling the road at Ghajnsielem last Wednesday. Sussex Gardens, the street the hotel is on, looks to be a bigger street: at least it's shown so on the map, though it's not very long. Wish me good weather.
Mrs. Galea, sweetheart that she is, is planning to call me at 6, to make sure I wake up, and is going to have tea and bread ready for me at 6:45, even though the real breakfast hour is 8 to 9.
I'll be posting this entry and answering email once I get settled in London and find a wifi locale. And maybe on Saturday I'll make a day trip to Oxford. . . .