The journey by sea normally lasts no more than half an hour. Thirty minutes by ferry and the warm Mediterranean Sea separate Malta from its sister island Gozo. Standing on Malta’s tail in Cirkewwa, the large white Gozo ferry may be seen gliding between islands ferrying passengers. No road connects the islands, no bridge stretches across the blue sea, no hidden underwater tunnel links idyllic Gozo with Malta. Can this be a reason why Gozo is a desired destination by many?
When in holiday mode, boarding the ferry as early as possible to feel the fresh morning breeze is a good way to start the day. On a serene morning, the gleaming sea with its rhythmic movement beneath the ferry often has a calming effect on passengers. The cool revitalising sea breeze present on deck acts as a fresh wake up call brushing away any residue of sleep.
As the wide mouth of the ferry boat is forced shut, the journey begins. Passengers quickly scatter around the ferry in search of a comfortable corner. Some race off to the shady cafeteria for their morning dose of caffeine. Others prefer to be greeted by the morning air waiting on deck. The deck, a much favoured spot by most passengers opens up a window onto nature. Gazing down at the water as it is sliced by the ferry’s bow it is easy to get carried away wondering what mysteries are hidden in the depths.
Invisible to the naked eye, a very different kind of life exists beneath the sea. Memories of the underwater world may easily flood the mind of the adventurous person who has tasted the thrill of diving. Yet, for others, the experience is simply made up of a set of images seen on interesting documentaries and breathtaking photographs.
As the distance between the ferry and Malta increases, an island with hardly any buildings or human inhabitants comes in sight. One glance at the clear aquamarine water confirms the ferry’s proximity to the island of Comino and its secluded Blue Lagoon. Imagine being cut off from the rest of the world, living on an island that has a lagoon with crystal clear water. What would being alone feel like? To be oblivious of all the trouble going on in the world… would you feel free from worries and live day by day?
Perhaps it is tempting to want to be away on that island. Perhaps a passenger on the ferry would readily trade all possessions to be cut off from it all. So many thoughts haunt the ferry boat as the passengers drift away in that lagoon, but as Gozo harbour becomes more visible, it is time to come back to reality. Reality for some means returning back home to Gozo after carrying out work in Malta. For others it triggers the start of a new work day to be spent in Gozo. The student, who for study purposes lives in Malta during the week, sees the ferry as a connection between the second place called home and his roots. For a number of passengers, the ferry is a symbol of temporary freedom from routine, an escape from regular daily chores and responsibilities – the start of a much anticipated break.
As Mgarr harbour in Gozo welcomes the arrival of the ferry, the journey draws to an end. Passengers leave the boat carrying the baggage that accompanies them in a lifelong journey. One person different from the other, all unique through specific features, characteristics and experiences, yet, all gathered together to reach the same destination. As all passengers descend, others take their place. New passengers, new experiences, new thoughts… The ferry starts another journey.