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Masonic News & Views -- Malta Firsts
April 11, 2010
Greetings Brother,

Our time in Malta is coming to a close. This adventure has been enlightening and educational and filled with many firsts. For example, this was my first experience in trans-continental travel. I have to admit I'm not a big fan. If you have ever flown from one continent to another you know what I mean. If not, maybe I can offer some perspective. First, go out and find two complete strangers. Ideally, one of these strangers will be in dire need of a shower and the other will be coughing, sneezing and running a fever. Next, go next door and borrow three chairs from your neighbor's toddler tea set. Place these chairs side by side as close as possible to each other, and about a foot away from and facing a wall. Now, you sit in the middle chair; have your newly found cuddle buddies sit on either side of you and stay that way for the next ten hours.

This was also my first experience being on the other side of the foreigner-fence. The foreigner-fence is the language and customs barrier that complicates communication between a foreigner and a native. I'm sure you've experienced a time when you were trying to help a foreigner and no matter how simply you explained it they just looked at you with that quizzical stare. It's kind of like a conversation between a human and a relatively smart chimpanzee, except that when you're on the other side of the fence you are the chimp.

I went out for my first drive in a European country the other day. Traffic in Malta is difficult to describe. Not only do they drive on the wrong side of the road and from the wrong side of the car, but simply comprehending the rules of the road creates a particular challenge. Malta is a world in miniature. As such, all the cars are sub-compacts. I saw a Honda Civic and it looked huge in comparison. Rather than traffic lights at highway intersections, the flow of traffic is loosely controlled by round-abouts. Cars in the round-about have the right-of-way and entering a round-about is comparable to running a yellow light: Go Really Really Fast. The primary rule seems to be, "If you think you can make it, go for it but be sure you're going fast enough that should you not make it any collision is sufficient to clear the road for those behind you." It's kind of like driving bumper-cars in a super collider going in both directions and using the slingshot effect to achieve the proper orbit. Yeah, it's fun.

I also visited my first ever European style medical clinic, but unfortunately I'm out of space and time so I'll have to save that story for later. See you soon.

Fraternally yours,

Tim Couch

Now, on with the news........................

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