We discussed earlier this week that if the current tolerable weather continued, we should really get back to touristing this weekend. Because all sights in Malta are either outdoors and open to the elements, or un-air conditioned, we largely curtailed our exploring a couple of months ago. (OK, there are the catacombs in Rabat and the Hypogeum ...)
So, this morning we prepare to set out. Oh, wait, just as we are letting the dog out one last time before heading out, we hear loud music and many voices that seem to be coming from the road. We walk up to the gate and are greeted by a huge bicycle procession passing on our street. We are not going anywhere until that passes, and the line of bikers passes out of sight. OK, there is a bend in the road about half a block up, but it does seem to go on forever. In reality, we are delayed about 15 minutes. We still don't know what the purpose of the bikers was, so if anyone in Malta is reading this, feel free to fill us in.
Today's trip was to Ghar Dalam, a cave at the south end of the island where remains of prehistoric animals have been found. The cave itself is an interesting geological experience too. We also appreciated the vegetables, randomly but clearly being tended to, growing in the dirt just outside the entrance to the museum portion of the facility. When you first walk into the cave, you can see the only portion that still has animal bones. The rest have been excavated. The cave is a pretty good exhibit, especially by Malta standards where at many sites all the good stuff has been removed and can be viewed at the Museum of Archeology in Valletta. Although I didn't love the Victorian display of rows and rows of hippo kneecaps and huge jars of red deer teeth, I can appreciate the volume of animal remains that were found there and understand that without any full skeletons, a recreation wasn't easily possible. The "new" part of the museum was great, though. Who knew that elephants and hippos were found in Europe during and after the Ice Age? And they reduced in size through evolution when they got trapped on Malta because this tiny island really can't sustain such large life?
After Ghar Dalam, we went to wander around the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. We had gone there once for dinner but hadn't spent any additional time there. I don't know if it is every Sunday but there was a huge flea market type situation all along the water. There was some fish for sale (although I am pretty sure this wasn't the fish market) and some produce (which was very convenient because most things aren't open on Sundays in Malta) but mostly it was the usual flea market stuff. We did find peanuts at a ridiculously low price (we snack on nuts a lot and at the store it is so expensive, for such small quantities, we have been begging parents to ship us lovely Costco-sized bags to keep our habit up). I got a little hungry grumpy after every single restaurant and cafe along a 1/4 mi. stretch of waterfront was full so we pulled out the nuts and discovered why they were so cheap. They were raw. The roasting instructions I found on the internet required removing the red papery stuff from the nut and I have to say roasting peanuts is the biggest PITA ... probably even worse than cooking Indian food, which is time consuming and a huge PITA. We have decided that the next batch of roasting will not include the removal of that stuff and we'll just deal with it.