Archive for October 7th, 2014

07 Oct 2014

Things That Go Bump In The Day And Night

2 Comments Malta

The week started on a sombre note. The hustle bustle of Malta was overwhelming; the traffic, the people, when all we wanted was some quiet time. Then we heard about the bungalows on Comino. The last time we were on Comino it was only for an afternoon and we thought it was just a rock, a place to moor the boat and go for a swim. On the other side of the island there is a hotel and a small complex of seafront bungalows. Comino was the perfect antidote.

We caught the 25 minute ferry ride across and waited outside the designated spot – a toilet block at the top of a hill. A short while later an old Mazda Bongo van rocked up. We clambered in. Once the sliding door was slammed shut we were off. Comino is JUST a rock — solid limestone. The old guy behind the wheel gripped it with determination. He knew what was to come. The track was rutted limestone and the Bongo van hurtled and bumped and bounced across it, like it had no suspension. Up front was a family of three, with a girl of about 17 squealing, reaching across for non-existent grab handles, bouncing out of her seat, while her parents clutched each other in sheer terror and also bounced from their seats. We bounced from ours. The roof was hard and it did not yield to Paul’s skull – ouch! But with our squealing we were speechless. No one said a thing and driver simply drove faster. When we arrived the door slid open. The girl bolted out first. Then she turned back to face us and stuck her head in through the doorway. She had a Cheshire Cat grin. She only had one thing to say – Schumacher!! We all laughed and stepped out, relieved to be on terra firma again.

Inside a Bongo van - mid bounce. I know why he has the cross hanging there.

 

Paradise

 

Early morning Comino

 

Comino is JUST a rock.

 

View from the bungalow. Gozo island in the distance.

Comino is amazing. There are no cars except for said loco Bongo van. In the mornings before the boats arrive, Comino is beautiful, peaceful and quiet, only a few over-nighters and a million tiny green lizards darting along the rocks. The water is clear and warm. We spent hours swimming under natural bridges, through caves and simply wading in the lagoon. Bliss!

As quickly as it came, it was over. Back to Malta, the traffic nightmare. Narrow roads, lack of regulations, agitated people, oversized buses, ad hoc roadworks, compounded by tourist drivers in rentals who haven’t got a clue. On some of the roads you have to close your eyes to the oncoming traffic — watching as opposing mirrors kiss is not good for the heart.

And in a nice segue, there are Segways. At the suggestion of a friend we booked a trip on Malta’s new X2 off-road Segway Tour at the Dingli Cliffs. If ever there is a combination for disaster, this is it. And in another segue, not so nice this time, the owner of Segway, a Brit, was testing one of these very same Segways at some cliffs near his home a couple of years ago, when he plummeted off the edge to an unfortunate ending. If you don’t know what an off-road X2 Segway is, think of a death trap and you will come close. In a controlled environment these things are great. But across limestone tracks, with obstacles, on roads shared with all above-mentioned crazies in Malta, Segways are NOT a good idea. It is only a matter of time before something really bad happens.

 

Look Ma, no hands! Segway X2 death trap.

 

It is not their speed that makes them dangerous, because they are not fast. It is the way they operate. Everything is counter intuitive. They are unlike any car, motorbike or bicycle. For example, as happened on our tour, when you see the person in front of you get the speed wobbles and suddenly stack it on the main road, directly in front of oncoming cars, you immediately crouch down in order to minimalise impact. Unfortunately on a Segway, crouching down is the absolute worst thing you can do. It sends the Segway hurtling forwards at maximum pace. What you should be doing is leaning backwards. It was a near miss luckily. When we peeled the woman in front of us off the road, patches of her skin still stuck to the road. She was close to tears. Elodie our lovely tour leader was quick to the rescue with her first aid kit and soothing French accent, assuring us all everything was okay. It happens all the time, she said and proceeded to tell us some horror stories. We fell for her dulcet tones and climbed back on our Segways, some of us more frightened than others. The dirt track that is only six or so metres from the edge of the Dingli Cliffs saw Paul freeze in his tracks and ungracefully dismount (fall) from the Segway and walk across to the cliff’s edge. It’s safer that way!

Dingli cliff road in a rare traffic free moment

 

Dingli cliffs