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The Apes of Gibraltar

The past 36 hours have been anything but boring. Yesterday, I woke up and left the Pension Carlos in La Linea and walked to Gibraltar. There I had a badly cooked American breakfast of Ham, eggs, and hash browns.

Why is it the English make everything taste so damn bad? I withdrew 30 quid from the ATM and breakfast set me back about 6.

Customs going through was minimal, but they did make me put my bags through an x ray and look to see that I had a passport, though without any sort of inspection. Gibraltar was like being in a semi-tropical England. Lots of birds of paradise. The tram up the rock of Gibraltar was 8 pound and I spent another couple to buy coffee and some sweets and a Moroccan Arabic phrasebook. From a glance, it is quite different from Modern Standard Arabic. 20 quid gone like that. (about $28) The rock is spectacular though and at the top I had an intimate experience with some of the Macaques, one of whom unzipped an empty pocket in my suitcase while I wasn’t looking and when I turned, his hand was deep in it. Blessed little thief. He hooted at me and puffed up his cheeks but I shooed him away without getting bitten.

There were about 400 bites last year from the apes of Gibraltar. The view from the top of the rock was amazing. Legend has it that Hercules separated Morocco and Spain and then inscribed on plus ultra meaning Nothing beyond here after Columbus made contact with North America the Spanish put plus ultra on their flag meaning more beyond.

In it’s history Gbraltar has been sieged at least 15 times and according to the audio guide, never taken. The citizens are an odd mixture of Spanish and English with a form of English that sounds more like Spanish to me. The British have had control of Gibraltar since 1713 when the Treaty of Ubect gave it to them from Spain for perpetuity, the Spanish would like it back but the Gibraltaranos like being part of Britain, as evidenced by themany red phone booths, double decker tourist buses, and multitude of fish and chips shops. At the top it is more than 1200 feet above sea level and one can see as one looks in all directions ships of many nations. It is the meeting point of Africa and Europe, the Atlantic and the Mediterrainean. 30,000 inhabitants crowd into a little over 6 square miles. As to the Macaques, there are so many that they have begun to cul them and they regularly cause problems for the people of the town. They are the only non-human primate in the Med and no one knows how they got there. I had always thought Gibraltar an island, but no, it is a peninsula, hence I was able to walk in and then out. True to form, Spanish customs didn’t even look up as I walked past with my bags, but then, what would I smuggle in from England? Maybe some crisps.

(Originally Published 5 Feb 2009)

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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