Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gibraltar

... sunrise over Gibralter waters ...
The last time I was in Gibraltar, Wyona, Greg and I walked the shopping street, aware of how odd it felt to be in this British space so carefully carved out of the tip of land at the end of Spain.

We were on our way back from the Mediterranean.

This trip it was our first stop, so everything seemed much the same as London from where we had started our trip.

One difference was that I walked the streets last time, this time we took a guided tour.

I have never been to the tunnels up in the rock and one of the tours the boat offered was a visit to those caves.

3The tour began badly – when we got off the boat, there was no bus to greet us.

 Neither was there a guide.

So we got to enjoy the flavour of a woman assigned to another tour – she hopped between the two buses, after one was finally provided for us.

The tour bonus is that the local tour guide gave us the local flavour of a woman who lived a lifetime in a community of only 30,000 people.

“We all know each other’s business here,” she said over and over.

Gibraltar is only 3 miles wide and not that long – so there are a lot of people in that tiny space.

 ... no fear hanging over the edge ...

Her example of how news travels is that when someone dies there in the morning, they have to be buried by evening.

So someone just goes along the street, telling residents of the time and place of the funeral and when the bearer of the bad news finally reaches the end of Gibraltar, everyone already knows that there has been a death and where the funeral was.

 This can be good and bad, our tour director told us.

For example, a hospital attendant stabbed her partner 10 times. Then cleaned him up and dressed him in his clothes before she called the ambulance.

Not knowing how he had died, the paramedics proceeded to give him CPR.

Yes, another mess to clean up there.

.. taking shots of the sunrise ...
The tour of Gibraltar continued with snippets of why they are like all other communities – they need police, a hospital, even a local rehab centre and community business practise.

“ The tour company pays me £5 extra for working a statutory holiday”, she said. “They don’t want us to be overpaid. As you can see, I do this because I love to talk. When it is no longer fun for me, I will quit.”

Gibraltar from the top of the rock
The literature about Gibraltar talks about the cheeky monkeys who will steal your food.

Our guide asked to take all of our plastic bags, saying that the monkeys think there is food in all of them.

 Keep your purses closed and don’t bring out food, she said over and over.

At the top of the look-out there is a snack shop. Apparently the woman in another tour didn’t translate the idea of taking no food up there, to eating no food up there.

She had barely come down the steps of the snack shop when one of the monkeys spotted the package of crisps in her hand, snatch it out of her hands and had it open on the ground, spreading the chips out and munching on them.

... looking down on the harbour ...
It was the woman’s piercing and repeated scream that brought the incident to my attention.

I watched her clutch her husband’s arm and then run from side to side and then to the back of him, trying to stay out of the monkey’s way as he investigated as to whether she had any more treats.

The monkey didn’t leave her alone and followed her to the funicular, still leaping for her bag.

She continued to shriek in panic, trying to position herself away from the monkey – but of course he could swing from walls and climb poles in ways she never dreamed.

the view below?  spectacular!
On the way down we asked the gondola operator if this happens often.

“One of them got on top of the cable car,” he said, “and we had to close the whole operation down until we could get him off.”

Little devils!

Arta

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