Island hopping

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Island hopping

Islands in an archipelago.  Siblings not clones. So near and yet so far away, separated by narrow but deep channels of seawater.

Neat parallel lines. Sky, land, sea, land, sea.  Like layers, almost too neat to be true.  Land born in the sea, raised above the sea and embraced by the sea.

In the first picture, the island of Gozo in the distance.  The gothic-style church at Ghajnsielem and the barely discernible ramparts of Fort Chambray on the right, the fortified Citadel and town of Victoria on the left.  Twenty minutes sailing north of Malta and yet a world away.

In the foreground the tree-covered Ahrax tal-Mellieha peninsula, on mainland Malta.  Rising 70 metres above sea level.  Almost an island in its own right but for a narrow strip of land which attaches it to the mainland.  Apart from the trees and the cliffs, the ubiquitous presence of military architecture as evidenced by the low defensive wall, a redoubt aimed at harassing attempts to land by enemy shipping.

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In the second photo, another stretch of the Ahrax peninsula on Malta: tough upper coralline limestone sitting on top of a softer and older clay deposit.  Slowly crumbling, boulder by boulder into the blue sea.  The thin layer of trees whose deep roots seek moisture retained by the waterproof clay below.

And in the background, the Ta’ Proxxa Cliffs on the tiny island of Comino, also perfectly parallel.  Not by accident but by design.  The result of past geological faulting creating a series of ridges and valleys, horsts and grabens as the geographers would call them.  Only in this case the valleys are under water while the ridges survive as dry land, the tips of submerged heights which once stood prouder and taller before the waters rose.

Beautiful vistas and interesting geography rolled in one.

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