“She said we should go to Gozo.” my husband is quoting the travel agent.
“Where’s Gozo?” I ask.
“Malta,” he replies.
I look at the strange coloured tickets.
“I only fly Aer Lingus,” I say.
“Well if you want to go to Gozo, Air Malta is the only airline that flies there,” he answers.
“I don’t want to fly anywhere,” I retort.
I am only out of therapy in an effort to cure my fear of flying phobia.
Air Malta is nice. I sit back and relax. The girl beside me is chatty.
“Where are you going to?” she asks.
“Eh, Malta,” I say.
She smiles. “Yes, but what part?”
“Oh! – Gozo,” I answer.
“So how are you getting there?” She persists.
I’m confused now.
“Boat or helicopter?” she continues. “Gozo is an island.”
I didn’t know that. My fear of flying is surpassed only by my fear of boats and water. My husband is pretending to be asleep. I give him a sharp nudge.
“Helicopter,” he answers.
The helicopter ride takes twenty minutes from the airport. We are joined by a BBC film crew making a documentary. They hover around the window trying to get the best vantage spot for their opening shot. I can’t see out. The camera men begin to get excited. They turn on their cameras. Suddenly I am consumed with panic.
“Turn off those cameras,” I shout, “they will interfere with the technology.”
The place erupts.
“There’s no digital technology,” the pilot shouts at me. “It’s a forty-year old Russian troop carrier. It’s analogue.”
My husband is mortified.
I sit quietly. I can’t see out the windows, but suddenly I notice a little bullet hole in the fuselage. I have a bird’s eye view of Gozo.
By the time we land I have fallen in love with Gozo. It is on this island that Odysseus was washed ashore following his shipwreck. Calypso cast her spell and kept him captive in her cave for seven years. I’m only staying seven days myself.
Calypso’s cave is spellbinding with a magnificent view stretching across Ramla Bay and the red sand dunes.
The small island is a treasure for those interested in archaeology. There are several pre-historic sites of major and minor importance. The Xaghra Windmill was built in 1724 and is well worth a visit. The Zerka Window is a natural archway rising from the sea. It is slowly collapsing and eventually will separate itself from the rest of the island. The national shrine of Gozo is Ta Pino Santuary, a centre of pilgrimage.
Victoria is the only town in Gozo, and was given its name in 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of QueenVictoria. The Gozitans call it Rabat. Marsalform with beautiful beaches, and crystal clear waters, is the Cote d’Azur of Gozo. The sea is inhabited by tiny, colourful and comic looking fish. It is a wonderland for those who love snorkelling and scuba diving.
As I sit on the plane for my return home I know I have conquered my phobia. Gozo has cast its enchanting spell.
“Where to next?” I ask my husband enthusiastically.
“Marriage counselling,” he replies.