as stated in my post yesterday, the taxis in malta were a bit interesting. they gave you a price and if you didn’t accept, they yelled at you. if you managed to get the price down, some other taxi would stop and start yelling at the driver you were talking to. in some cases it ended with both cars driving off leaving you there, in some they started fighting over who could drive you. and when you got in, they drove like maniacs. in the middle of the street, fast and honking here and there, mostly without any obvious reason.
but then. along came antonio. what a shame i met him on sunday evening instead of thursday morning…
had been out to dinner with a few people still left. some decided to continue afterwards, but the finnish boys and i decided to go back to the hotel since our flights were quite early on monday morning. we were standing in the middle of the street saying our goodbyes (some of you know the drill..) and i was starting to feel really cold and tired. i told the boys that i ain’t walking and pointed at my bare legs. at the same time a car stops and “you need taxi!” is shouted out “i and my russian friend drive you, where you go?” we bend to have a look inside the car and see this little funny man smiling at us, beside him a young man trying not to laugh. the boys and i look at each other and decide to take a chance.
we hardly have the time to sit down before we’re treated to candy. “it’s good, it’s english, it’s called pear drops because it’s a look like a pear. my russian a friend like. where you go? plevna? good, take candy! you come from where? finland? you have funny names there. you know lillehammer? my friend is russian. i like driving vip-people, i drive vip from norway and sweden and now russia and finland.”
the man kept on talking without even stopping to take a breath it seemed. i mumbled (in swedish of course) to the boys something about is it just me or are we going in the totally opposite direction of our hotel? they had their mouths full of candy so couldn’t really make out what they were saying. i decided i wouldn’t taste the candy just yet and slipped it into my purse. just in case…
a while later we stop to drop off the russian friend. apparently he was a customer.. the driver starts insisting that one of us should come in the front with him. the boys sell me out and i move to the front seat thinking i’ll kill them if we ever get out of this alive.
“here take a candy. it is a english candy. it is a pear drop, it is a shape of a pear. you see? here, wat is your name? christina? dat is not a finnish name, finnish name are difficult. here. take another candy. it is a orange taste. and here you have a black currant. and here. take dis also. oh boys, you want too? yes okay, take one. you christina want one more? here! so. wat you do? you are high educated, yes, i see dat. you are the boss of boys i think. yes. in scandinavia the woman is a boss. you are boss, right boys? yes. haha, think so. wat you do here? conference? wat conference? you very high educated, i see dat, you look dat. and you are english. yes yes, okeej okeej, you come from finland you say, okeej, but you speak english english. you look english. you dress english. you boss. why you talk english english? television? nono, swedish people talk english after television, they talk bad american english, they talk like chewing gum in their mouth. bad. you talk english. no chewing gum english like swedish people. sorry, haha. i forgot. were you want to go? i talk so much i forget. but you notice i drive well? i don’t drive like maltese idiot. i am italian. i am antonio. i come from sicily. look there ship goes to sicily. here my licence. look. it is a good licence. i drive good. haha. you funny, yes, i keep eye on road, but you look at licence christina. you boss. you english. you want candy?”
and this is only the part of the conversation (monologue more or less) i remember. little antonio went on like he was getting paid by the word. when we pulled up at the hotel (after going down a one-way street the wrong direction – but he did it for me because it was starting to rain and i was english high educated vip boss from finland..) he hurried out and opened the doors for the boys on the way around the car. sensing that he was heading my way i waited. and yes, up flies the door and there he is standing in his blue t-shirt and black shorts, offering me his hand. “madama christina” he says and i play along. taking his hand, i step out of the car and thank him so much for this very enjoyable and funny ride. i pay him and he asks if he may kiss me on my hand. you may, i say and stretch out my hand again.
the boys and i walk into the hotel. in the lobby we stop and finally look at each other. we start laughing so much that no-one would have believed we had only drunk water during dinner. in fact we were wondering if anyone would ever believe us at all. but rest assured. somewhere in the area of sliema-st julians there is a car driven by a little man called antonio. if you ever see him, say hello from me won’t you?
and oh by the way. if anyone wants to taste english pear drops, i have a purse full.