V. S. Naipaul
Scrawled on the back of an interview release form on route to Sao Paulo and a long return flight to Europe after four weeks travelling and filming throughout Brazil
‘The last morning, travelling through Sao Paulo State along rutted roads. At this moment homeward bound you recollect Brazil, its variation, its surprises. The van jerks and dips, brown puddles splash. In the distance you glimpse labourers and smiling children, dark floating colours against green fields where white coated cattle languidly cluster. Horses mottled and brown stand sedately by the roadside, small farms and estancias damp walled blues and reds hidden among dripping fronds of banana palms. Ahead where the swollen river bends the forest rises to a crooked bank of curving mountains, clouds of scurrying rain descend through the trees. Impressions flash through your mind. The great vastness of Mato Grosso its endless fields, studded forest and horizons; the shimmering sun-baked palm trees of Maranhão and Tocantins; enormous humidity of Amazonas and Para; the cool rains and mists of Sao Paulo. All images, all indelible. Jauntily hated gauchos canter cockily on horses down narrow streets of a country town. Beneath blue skies a laden lorry on a blood-red road. Women huddled in a crowd, split husks of coconut shells you hear them laughing and singing. Through fields of wavering heat workers walk languidly, children splash sandaled feet through pools of fallen rain, at night hearing the jungle breath. Straight concentric lines of Brasilia, crumbling ornate Manaus, Belem old colonial twist and mango trees, smell of sea and Amazon mingling, the flap and buzz of beetles against a gas light, village dogs sprawled in midday shade, rubbish dump steams in morning heat, vultures gather and jostle, crowded airport lounges the sound of students in full song, the bustle of city streets, a boat swings at its mooring, the blare of a radio, the easy swing of a hammock, rainwater dripping from corrugated rim, the rumble of thunder in the hills, jumbled colourful stack of favelas, red clay-tiled roofs, sweat running in rivulets, bare-footed boy on motorcycle, rusting TV satellite dishes in the jungle.’
Valletta, The Fortress City, Citta’ Umilissima, “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen” is Malta’s capital city: a living, working city, the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Valletta is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sceberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Started in 1566, Valletta was completed, with its impressive bastions, forts and cathedral, in the astonishingly short time of 15 years, even more remarkable is considering the fact that mechanical tools did not exist at the time and the whole city was built entirely by hand.
The city is busy by day, yet retains a timeless atmosphere by night, that gives the feeling that you are walking back in time. The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe’s finest art works, churches and palaces.