Being stoned by the same rocks they defaced seems to be the only punishment equal to the crime

The Skinny | No. 50 • Red Arrows on Rocks

Red arrows spray painted on rocks and rubble walls at the Majjistral Nature Park
Red arrows spray painted on rocks and rubble walls at the Majjistral Nature Park

What are we skinning? Red arrows painted on sweet, sweet unspoilt limestone.

Why are we skinning them? Because there’s a particular schadenfreude that comes with catching entitled foreigners in the act of blatantly spoiling our country’s environment, when local culprits are already doing a fine enough job of it.

What’s this about though? I thought ‘Red Arrows’ were an - equally polluting - aerobatics team. No, this is about the French trekking crew Nature Extreme Developpement (!) unashamedly painting the errant signposts to help their crew of marathon runners, all across sites like Majjistral Nature Park, the Red Tower, Ghar Lapsi, Fomm ir-Rih and others. The sting is made all the more absurdist/enraging when the same group appears to profess a love and respect for the natural landscapes they make it a point traipse across…

Well, can’t blame them for claiming the land for themselves with a Malta-appropriate name like that… That’s true - in fact, at first I assumed them to simply be an international offshoot of the Malta Developers’ Association…

Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity… How do you mean?

It could be they were flown over to erect a countryside boutique hotel on the sly, but turned out to be a trekking group instead… Don’t be silly. As if the authorities here ever missed a chance to blatantly advertise even the most questionable of boutique developments.

That’s true. So given how it could have gone down, a few red arrows don’t seem to be all that bad. There’s a lot of them though. Sprayed with permanent, toxic red paint when chalk would have bloody well sufficed.

You look like you’re about to pop a vein from your temple. They may as well have defaced neolithic temples?! Seriously, though, what these guys did is such a blatant cocktail of arrogant and stupid that it boggles the mind.

But locals have gotten away with a lot worse over the years… You mentioned the temples being vandalised, which HAS happened in the past… Yes, but those culprits were lucky enough to be around during a time when Malta’s secret environmental avenger had yet to undergo their origin story and subsequent deployment.

What? Who are you talking about? I’m talking about the phone camera totin’, aggressively Facebook postin’, occasionally dreadlocks sportin’, clean-up queen…

You’re talking about Cami Appelgren, aren’t you? Bingo!

She really did a number on them, didn’t she? Yes, some of them can actually look forward to a court date! I can picture our Extremist Developpers hard at work crafting a voodoo doll in her likeness.

It’s just a shame that local environmental defacers rarely ever face the swift hand of justice in a similarly efficient manner. To be fair, most of them stop short of actually painting red arrows to mark their criminalising trajectory.

Do say: “Seeing an effective confluence of citizen activism and mainstream authority coming together to catch these environmental crimes pretty much in the act is nothing short of inspiring. Now if we could apply the same yardstick to local environmental shortcomings…

Don’t say: “Being stoned by the same rocks they’ve defaced seems to be the only punishment equal to the crime from where I’m standing, to be honest…”

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