The first time we visited Malta we saw a man with a falcon on his wrist standing by the side of the road. He didn’t look anything like Humphrey Bogart let alone Peter Lorre, but the falcon was truly a Maltese falcon. The Grand Masterof the Order of Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, the ruler of the island between 1530 and 1798, had to “pay” a falcon as an annual tribute to the Emperor Charles V and his mother Queen Joanna of Castile as monarchs of Sicily.
“Do you have a cigarette?” Ninety-three-year-old Mrs. Simandiris said in Italian after we’d climbed a shaded lane to her home for a taste of local life. The ancient woman, sitting in an arm chair surrounded by nick-knacks and an overflowing ashtray, presided over our visit, smiling and laughing while she showed our small group photos of her family, great-great grandchildren and all. In between cadging cigarettes, she asked people to take her photo for a euro.
For those of you who are interested in knowing more about Meteora and its rock formations and monasteries, here’s a link to a website called Mapping Europe. It contains drone photos that capture some of the wonders of the area.
Thanks to Martha Bakerjian for the find!… Read more
What makes a site sacred? The atmosphere, the setting, the priests who declared it so, or the pilgrims who trek from far away to experience a oneness with their god or gods? Maybe all of the above.
Time hasn’t been kind to the Mission of Tumacacori that stands in partial ruin three miles south of the flourishing artist’s town of Tubac in southern Arizona. Dreary weather added to the melancholy atmosphere surrounding the abandoned church when my husband and I visited. Although it is part of a National Historic Monument managed by the Park Service, other than a group of hikers who briefly stopped to use the facilities before they headed out on a birdwatching expedition, the grounds were empty of visitors.