Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gibraltar

 ... Storm in Gibraltar ...
I had never seen so many ships floating to the side of a port.
I took an early morning walk on the deck, long before the sun rose.  Since I am coming back on this boat in January, I decided to test out the hot tub – find out where the towels are, where the shower is, and which tubs are the hot tubs as opposed to the Jacuzzis.  Before I left that deck I went to the window to see what was making the teen-agers press their noses to the panes.  What I saw is what they were seeing – dolphins jumping near the boat.  Then the captain came on the boat loud speaker to tell us that what we were seeing starboard side was Africa and portside the large rock was the Rock of Gibraltar.  Those were two firsts for me – Africa 22 miles away and the steep face of the Rock of Gibraltar right before me.  I had dressed warmly to go up on deck, but not warmly enough.  The gales from the Atlantic were pushing through into the Mediterranean and I was leaning into the wind to get to the front of the ship.

The captain makes essentially the same announcement each day – he tells us where we are, what the weather will be like, how they made it through the storm by finding an opening in the wind channels (as opposed to other ships around us who missed that secret passage), and then he reminds people to wash their hands at every opportunity.  “I know you do it at home, but on board, I want you to do it four times as much,” he said.  And today – eat onboard, rather than on shore so that you know your food has been prepared properly.

I don’t know how many people took his warning, but the idea of going to the windjammer, finding a spot overlooking the Rock of Gibralter and enjoying a leisurely lunch before going off the ship seems like a good idea to us.  However, we only made it to the elevator when were hear the 9 piece big band sound of the Brilliance of the Seas Orchestra playing on deck.  Though it was noon and time for our first meal of the day, we changed course and went to the ships mall and promenade where they were practising.  The singers were overhead, singing from a sixth floor bridge; the orchestra was on the 5th floor walkway.  Greg and Wyona danced to the music.  I stood with other people who had also stopped for the show, some of them dance teachers, swaying to the music and luxuriating in the sound of big band in the middle of the day.

“Just like Oxford Street!  But with a big rock behind.”

I had to agree with Wyona.  Gibraltar. The money is pounds sterling.  The accents are British.  The shops are British:  Marks and Spensers, and Mother Care.  And the bakeries?  Where else could a person find this morning pancakes soaked in syrup and waiting for someone to buy them.  When we weren’t off the ship and into the town square – there it was – this little colony that belongs to Britain advertizing its wares:  Roy's English Fish and Chip.  What seems Spanish is the oranges hanging from the trees – well only on the tops of the trees.  No oranges left where anyone could reach them.  Ever since we have been on board, I bring oranges back to the cabin from the restaurant.  I developed my taste for an infinite variety of oranges when I was in Spain with Bonnie and David.  Our trip up the high street was regular for the three of us: Greg stopping in to see the interior of the churches along the way, Wyona and me flitting from window to window, scarf counter, to scarf counter, and checking out with each other exactly where we have seen that scarf before, and at what price.  If we are seeing it at three times the price at which we  bought it in Naples, then we are happy.

Algeciras – that is the name of the Spanish city nearest to Gibraltar.  The landing strip begins on the English side and is short, going from the British Colony to Spanish holdings.  A road that divides the two countries crosses right across the runway, so barricades come down when a plane is coming in. If you are going from Gibraltar to Algeciras, build in a safety factor of 20 minutes in case you get caught on the wrong side of the barrier and have to wait for a plane or two to land.

Perhaps we are the only people who love Napoli. Edin, our evening dining room server, said that one of his colleagues bought a beautiful new computer, checked it out in the shop to see that it was working perfectly, watched it put back in its package and when she got back on board, all she had inside of the cardboard packaging was a rock of the similar size and shape, though she had left her good money behind in the shop. 

Edin said that a Ferrari came close to taking his life, when he had barely stepped off of the ship.  Pedestrians have no rights – and some of them no life after they have tried to cross a street.  Indeed, even the comics take swipes at the Nepalese.  What is the best way to get across to the other side of the street in Naples? 

Answer?  

Be born there.

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