Tiny Island, Big Impact

On the surface, Malta is a tiny island in the Mediterranean that is visited by European holiday-makers in droves thanks to its decent prices, azure blue waters, warm weather and friendly locals. But Malta is so much more interesting than just beaches: it’s swayed the fate of the world twice, boasts the planet’s oldest free-standing structures, and was once called home by one of history’s most powerful organizations, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John.

Unusual Sport for an Unusual Country

When you think of New Zealand, you might first picture rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cows, or postcard-perfect beaches filled with barefoot families holding chilly bins and soggy fish and chip packets. Maybe you might think of a dense, damp forest, stirred only by the sound of unusual birdcalls, like the tui or kiwi, or the All Blacks, the national rugby team, famous the world over for their sporting prowess and gut-wrenching take on the Maori haka. With all of the amazing things Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) is known for, it is perhaps no surprise that the sport of canoe polo has taken root there.

English with a Twist

Straight off the bat we are born into a world where the sayings “no worries” and “she’ll be right” indicate an easy-going attitude that can be seen almost everywhere, from mothers giving birth then buying the weekly groceries just hours after, to children being sent to school barefoot and playing rugby in stubbies (short shorts) during winter. Here you are not bundled up and protected from the environment, but rather, you adapt to the land.

Barefoot in Life

he first thing I want to do when I see the beach is to slide out of my shoes. There is nothing better than the feel of sand beneath the toes, or the icy hit of the ocean. While the sea might seem the perfect environment for barefoot enjoyment, it doesn’t end there. For New Zealanders, it’s acceptable to be sans foot protection everywhere. We hop across scorching tarmac that leaves black stains on our soles, we inwardly cringe as we carefully make our way over gravel, and we make a mad dash over grass—what should be safe territory—only to find it a breeding ground for prickles and bees. We harden up pretty quickly.

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