My time so far in Malta has been AMAZING. It's been 12 years since I was last here, and I've definitely been missing out. I don't know why I haven't come and spent every summer here really. This is the perfect vacation I need before getting in to the non-stop grind of winter.
My parents and I are staying in an apartment complex owned by my dad's cousin in the beach-side city of Bugibba. Almost every morning we meet up with my cousins who live right down the street and walk down to a cafe to get crepes (or as they call them in Malta, "Pancakes").
We've been to so many historical sites, but I think one of the coolest places we've gone on this trip is this little shoe shop in Hamrun. It doesn't look like much, but it was very symbolic for me. Before immigrating to the United States at the age of 23, my grandfather (Or Nunnu as we say in Maltese) worked in this very shop. Over 70 years since my nunnu learned the trade of making shoes, this shop still stands. When my nunnu arrived in San Francisco, he continued making shoes until a friend got him a job making ice skates, which basically followed the same structural concepts. Anyways, he eventually branched off and started his own ice skate boot manufacturing company, SP-Teri. The company rose and came to provide ice skates for some of the top figure skaters in the world.
Growing up, every Winter Olympic year, I remember NBC news crews coming to my nunnu's factory to conduct interviews with him. For decades he provided equipment to countless Olympians, and now I have the chance to compete in the Olympics myself, representing this incredible country where it all started. For me, representing Malta in the Olympics is a way to honor my nunnu, and pay tribute to his memory. I wish he was still alive to be here with me for this journey, but all I can hope is that he's somewhere looking down on this and feeling proud for his country, his family he created, and himself being the amazing role model he was for me.