Malta is not a big country – it’s only 316km2, and it holds the 10th position on the list of the smallest countries in the world. But it is dense – though its nowhere near Macau or Monaco in that respect, there are 1510 people per square kilometre (Macau, the top of the list of most dense population territories, just for reference, is 20164).
We left Amsterdam on the 15th of December, and today is the 28th. Only 16 days ago, my friends and colleagues in Netherlands threw me a going away party where we toured the Amsterdam Light Festival by boat and ate amazing Alegrian food near Westergasfabriek. That is two weeks now that we’ve been homeless and two weeks before we arrive in our first semi-permanent residence in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
My train was approaching Leiden Central Station as the engulfing blackness of the South Holland countryside gave way to the lights of the town. The trees and straight-banked irrigation canals punctuated the farmlands, green by day, black and shapeless by the night’s eye behind me – broken up by the occasional middle-of-nowhere village. The red brick of the buildings, with accents of solid colours occupying the spaces between those bricks in variations of rectangles, stretched on both sides of the tracks as the empty streets and squares rested after a day’s use. Quiet, alone, basking in the night’s stillness, like me.
“We call it a ‘monkey wedding’ in South Africa,” said Dave, as all the people in our office looked out of our big window at the golden sunshine in a blue sky reflecting off the falling nails of raindrops outside. This is Amsterdam in September, where the weather dries and wets you at the same time, and makes about as much sense as monkeys getting married.