Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Once upon a time according to Greek mythology Ulysses (or Odyessus) was shipwrecked off the isle of Gozo. Sadly all his shipmates were drowned but our hero succeeded to make it to the shore.
When he eventually came to himself and looked around he discovered that he was on a picturesque red sandy beach.. He thought that he was on a desert island but the Goddess Calypso had been watching from her cave high up on the cliffs and as soon as she saw that he was still alive she hurried down the pathway and with a smile on her lovely face she welcomed him with open arms and invited him to her comfortable abode.
Similarly today, Calypso Island welcomes with warm hospitality all visitors who find themselves on our shores. Like Ulysses they find themselves on Gozo Island and are enthralled by its beauty and the simplicity and frankness of the locals (or the majority of them). The Gozitans seem to have the virtue of hospitality inbred in their veins. They find it easy to go out of their way to make the tourists feel at home and offer them the best accommodation. We people of Gozo simply love foreigners. Visitors to our islands enjoy seeing the locals greeting them with a nod or a smile or a 'good morning' though they are total strangers. It is a habit, a nice habit and I do it myself. What's the harm in doing it, sometimes a smile is enough to raise someone's spirit:))
When St. Paul was cast ashore on our island in the year 60 AD he was also full of praise for the hospitality of the early Maltese inhabitants.
Hospitality and kindness are engraved in our hearts apart from the fact that from time immemorial our islands were ruled by foreign powers, the Phoenicians, the Romans, Spaniards, Arabs, the Knights of St. John, the French and more in between. The British were here for almost 200 years up to 1979 and we have inherited many of their customs, laws and regulations. They have also left us their language which has become the second language here in Malta. .
The Goddess nourished Ulysses with the best of the island's produce, milk and wine, honey, grapes, plums, peaches, oranges and other fruit for free.
Nowadays these delicacies are not free but they are still sold much cheaper than in other European countries. Besides they are the tastiest that money can buy. Why are our fruit and vegetables so good? It is probably owing to the quality of the soil, the abundance of sunshine and the quantity of rain water that they get, just enough to keep the trees healthy. Too much would make the fruit bigger and fatter but less tasty.
The nymph Calypso committed a crime by holding Ulysses against his will as a prisoner of love. He implored her to furnish a ship for him in order to return to his homeland and his beloved wife Penelope. But she was selfish and kept him with her for a long 7 years. Yet her sin was overlooked by Zeus the all-powerful God because she was a Goddess herself. .
It happens today as well, the rich have the power of money so nine times out of ten they find a way to do what they like, such as constructing high-rise buildings and ruining the environment. In Gozo nevertheless one can say that crime is non-existent when compared to other countries and the locals and visitors alike live in peace and quiet in the security of their homes. Peace and quiet are a very expensive commodity in the hectic life-style of today. Living in Gozo and savouring the tranquillity and slow pace of the island even for a few days is considered a luxury which is in great demand. In fact living in Gozo permanently is fast becoming the number one wish in the bucket-list of many senior citizens. One of the principal characteristics that add to the allure of Gozo is its remoteness.
Would Gozo be the same after the tunnel project is completed? Many Gozitans and people from Malta are of the opinion that the disadvantages are much greater than the advantages and fear that Gozo would lose its identity and allure.
In the end Calypso fell in with Ulysses' wishes and presented him with a vessel laden with supplies to last him throughout his voyage home. Ulysses thanked her and said his farewells for good, but on the contrary a good number of the people who visit Gozo today are so bewitched by the beauty of the island and by the hospitality of the inhabitants that they make it a point to come again together with their families or friends.
Visitors today are sure to visit Ramla, the same sandy beach that saved the life of Ulysses. Calypso cave overlooks the bay and though today it is much smaller as a result of erosion and the passage of time it is still worth a visit.