Yesterday marked one of the best days so far on the one year journey. You could probably say it began on Tuesday – two days ago when I met Tom Johnstone, from Australia, on the bus heading from Granada to Algeciras. Seats are reserved.
I believe there are no accidents, especially when Tom was assigned as my seat-mate.
We chatted the whole four hours to Algeciras and the next day he accompanied me to the Rock of Gibraltar. It was there where we met three other people and we became instant friends.
But first let me say, it is pouring down rain – thunder and wind – today and I’m trapped inside a convention spa-like facility. There must be room for two hundred or more people here. It has been the worst mistake of my journey, so far. When we got to Algecias on Tuesday, Tom was dropped off in the city where he made a good judgement call, and stayed in town. My place, however, was so far away I cannot get to town (grocery store, bus stop, port) easily. Yes, there are buses, but as I reported yesterday the bus stop is on a busy freeway that I must walk across. Since it is storming right now, and it’s difficult to see outside, I’ll stay inside this place today. I leave tomorrow – thank goodness. By the way, I am the only person staying in this resort. I have been given no special privileges. I slept a few minutes past breakfast, because of a sleepless night and was told there would be no breakfast for me. That means I had to purchase a packed lunch. There are also no kitchen privileges, and only a microwave, which is off-limits, as well. I do have a French press coffee maker and some ground coffee. I was handed a cup and hot water and made my coffee on the steps near the locked-up cafeteria.
Okay, that’s enough of the challenge, let’s go on to the great day, yesterday.
I met Tom at the bus stop, after the bus ride from the freeway, and together we traveled by bus to the border between Spain and Gibraltar.
After searching and asking a question from a taxi driver, who pointed out the walk-way to the entrance of the border, we arrived, got our passports stamped into Gibraltar – the Colony of Great Britain, and continued on.
We heard a man speaking to a couple, who are also from Australia, about touring the rock in a van with him as a guide, going to the top where taxi’s cannot go, and also where it would take several hours to walk.
“That’s what I want to do,” I said to Tom.
“You could save some money if all four of you go together,” the guide said.
We turned and looked at the couple and we all agreed without further delay. It turned out to be one of the best decisions in my journey.
“Will we see monkeys at the top of the rock?” I asked the driver.
He replied with humor: “If you don’t see any monkeys, I’ll give you your money back. Yes, you will see monkeys.”
Okay, I found my way to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, but how did the 200-plus monkeys get there?
According to everything I have read and accounts from the guide, the tail-less Macaca Sylvanus monkeys arrival to Gibraltar still has experts guessing, and so far, no one knows for certain.
Hangin’ with a monkey
One theory is that they came at a time when Europa and Africa were joined, another that they were brought over to the rock by the Moors, during their centuries-long occupation of the Iberian peninsula. There are those who believe they were introduced to the British as pets, and then allowed to go wild on the upper slopes of the rock.
Sir Winston Churchill, upon learning the numbers were diminishing, intervened ay ordering their numbers to be replenished. Thus, continues the saying, “Gibraltar will cease to be British on the day there are no apes left on the Rock.”
Today a bit of rivalry between Spain and Gibraltar was evidenced a later when we left by car at the end of the day. More about that later.
There are centuries of history of the rock, the caves, the monkeys, and the city, and wars, that to spend one day wouldn’t be enough time. Tom said he’s going back there after his trip into Morocco.
The guide took us to several viewing places where our new friends Kim, Keith and Tom and I took photos of the city and the bay, and one of the tunnels, before we got to the monkeys.
Then, all of a sudden there they were; monkeys walking among the people, sitting on fences and rocks, watching us make fools of ourselves, and even playing and rolling around on top of vehicles. We were instructed not to touch them, as they will bite. Also, be careful about rummaging around in bags, because they may think you’re about to feed them. That was also a no-no. But, dear monkeys: “Is it fair that you can jump on us, and bite us but we cannot touch you? C’mon.”
Kim screamed and jumped when a monkey used her head as a bridge from on top of a van to a rock.
It was difficult sometimes to be somewhere close to a monkey, but not cause it to get nervous and lean over to hit you or bite you. They were everywhere, and I have many photos of monkeys on vehicles, on fences, watching us, with their babies, and then on the way out, I saw a cat.
I walked close to get a photo of the cat, and another guide scared me on purpose with a loud, “meow”. Then after my surprise he told me there was once a cat who gave birth to kittens and one of the monkey’s nursed it and took care of it.
To be continued…
P.S. It has taken two hours to post two photos. I’m tired of monkeying around with this. I’ve got some really good ones, and maybe later…disappointed.