I swirled the whipped cream into my hot chocolate, making patterns as the spoon twisted in the cup, hitting the sides, plinking with each moment of contact.
“I have no idea,” I sighed, and dropped the spoon to the side of the cup with a clatter. Tuya was sitting across from me, the light of her computer reflecting in her glasses. She squinted at the screen. “I don’t really care. I just want to go.”
We were sitting in Café Pretoriana in Ascoli. Besides the school, it was our only internet access point. The password to the WiFi was Led Zepplin. The hot chocolate was as thick as pudding. They played Italian rap music. The couple that ran it became my best friends. It was a comfort place.
“What about here?” Tuya spun her laptop towards me and pointed to the digital map. A small speck in the center of the Mediterranean appeared under her finger.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’s called Malta. Must be warm, right?”
“Better be. I’m pale and need tanlines.”
“Is it a country?”
Before we had looked at that map, Malta was a dog. I had never heard of the country, or its people. But my travels were an educated adventure that opened my eyes to another small, but beautiful portion of the world.
As we walked down the street to Granny’s Inn Hostel, I could not believe the weather. Bluebird skies and eighty degrees in April. Purple, blue and pink flowers were blooming through the wrought iron fences, and a breeze wafted the scent of the ocean air up through the maze of pale colored houses with bright colored trim. As we were buzzed in, I exclaimed at how gorgeous this place was. She gave me a puzzled look.
“Welcome to Malta.” She said as she shrugged. This weather was the norm.
In the next few days, we toured the city, craving the history, the beaches with names like Golden Bay and Paradise Bay. We roamed the craft areas and went dancing in the clubs. Malta was a haven I had never even known existed. And it started with a pinpoint on a map, a little spontaneity, and a chance.
When asked, many people will say they want to travel to big cities, the famous. Rome, Paris, New York, London, Dublin. But when you search beyond those limits, worlds can be opened up. Before purchasing that next flight, spin a globe, stop it with your finger, and reveal worlds you never even knew existed.