In March 2015, the first few images of a new island off the coast of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean emerged. The birth of this land came about from the eruption of the underwater volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (yes, I struggled, too). It has been classified as a volcanic island, and came to be in December after the explosion. Scientists have warned visitors that the newly formed surface area is unstable, due to it being primarily formed by fragile and loose magma. It is also still very hot to walk on, there is nowhere to take shelter from the scorching heat, and the lake within the crater emits a strong odour of sulphur.
I don’t know about you, but this all sounds relatively familiar. There are one or two elements about this new rock that remind us of our glorious archipelago. If it’s hot enough, the tarmac on the ground does in fact melt at times. Our bus stops barely provide any shelter from the sun. As for the sulphur content in water… There’s got to be something in the mixture that makes our bread taste so divine. It’s not all bad, of course. We too are surrounded by clear blue seas, and our weather is just as postcard perfect.
Now, let’s imagine for a second that the same natural phenomenon had to occur just a few miles below, say… Filfla. A new island with a surface area of 316Km² sprouts out of the sea and solidifies slap-bang right within our territorial waters. What can I say? Neptune must’ve been bored.
We’ve stuck a flag in it and officially made it ours. Il-gżira l-ġdida tagħna lkoll. So, with this fresh virginal land at our disposal, what would we, as a nation, opt to do with it? Would it just be an extension of our main island, or will it work to improve on what went wrong the first time round on the original canvas?
“Yes, this is a fertile land and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land and we will call it… This Land.” (Wash, Firefly).
How does one go about naming new territory? Who has the final say? Do we hold a referendum on it? I propose we call it Atlantis, as legend had intended. It would, after all, have emerged from the sea. Either that, or Maltina.
It would solve our overpopulation problem. Disperse. Everybody just hop over and make space. Things are getting scarily claustrophobic on this side of the archipelago. Kindly move over to the hypothetical island next door.
No high-rise apartments… Which actually turn out to be abysmally designed tower blocks. You’ve got the Mediterranean sea all around you with visible views of the sun setting on Filfa. Don’t block it with gaudy coloured concrete cages on top of each other with minimalist balcony railings.
Bus and cycle lanes. Here’s our chance to be eco-friendly. It would be an opportunity to inhabit a land other than Gozo that does not suffer from terrifying levels of traffic congestion. Smooth, pothole-free roads. Wide streets. Bus lanes aplenty. Cycle lanes everywhere. Hell, let’s have a tram system – we’ll get to the other end of the island in under 5 minutes. Gosh, it’s like having a mini-Switzerland.
Well, one can dream, I guess.
We’d have pastizzi shops every 500 metres. I think very few of us will want to change this obesity-inducing flaw about us. If this land’s going to be Maltese, it’s going to have pastizzi. And Kinnie. The heavens above, let there be a river of Kinnie flowing through it.
No fireworks. I’m going to get throttled for this. This land will not host feasts. We’ve got plenty of those on the mainland. Comino doesn’t hold a purċissjoni (procession) and a fireworks display, so why should Alantis/Maltina?
However, the big question is…
Shall we have a bridge or an underwater tunnel? Now there’s a tough one. I’ll leave this one in your capable hands. I’m personally not picky. I think one of the loveliest things about Gozo trips is the ferry ride. Then again, a bridge or tunnel is just as practical.
What would you propose for a new Malta? Let us know in the comment section below.