Gettin’ a Piece of the Rock

Still goin strong down here! I left Grenada yesterday and made way for a small port town called Algeciras, it’s right on the tip of Spain and provides easy access to the Rock Of Gibraltar, as well as ferries to Tangiers. Otherwise, it’s a dump.

The train ride down here gave me some serious countryside viewage. Spain is really beautiful! Vast mountains and vallies, with sandy colors mixed with green, and bushes and trees scattered about. Quite majestic actually.

BUT! When I got off the train in Algeciras, I soon found it to be the dingy crap hole it was rumored to be. Near the stations, there were a bunch of hostels, so I started looking around for a place to stay. My intentions were to use Algeciras as a base to explore Gibraltar and Morocco. All the rooms I found tended to smell pretty bad, so I went with the cheapest, least smelly room I could find. Something I didn’t think about was the noise factor though…my room had a balcony that opened right on a main road, and I was only one floor up, so I could hear all the noise of the street as though my bed were right on the road.

You may ask yourself, “Why the hell didn’t he just close the window then?” Because it’s bloody hot! I would have sweat myself to death, so it was a choice between heat stroke and noise. I went with the noise, and three showers to keep cool. But let me just tell you, I hate scooters with a passion. They make this extremely loud buzzing noise, at a frequency that is so abrasive, it should be outlawed. But they are all over the place here! So, all night I heard “bzzzzzoooooooom!”  In the morning I bolted from Algeciras and decided to try my fate at staying in Gibraltar itself.

Hopped on the bus. It was about an hour to The Rock. The bus drops you off at a town called La Linea, literally meaning The Line. I think the Spanish are a little pissed off about the Gibraltar situation. You see, the rock of Gibraltar is a British colony, basically. It’s in Spanish territory, but controlled by England. The Spanish really don’t like that, even though it’s been that was for hundreds of years.

From La Linea, you have to pass Spanish customs and wave your passport to get out.  When you enter Gibraltar, you are immediately hit with anglophelia. It’s like walking into a piece of England. I guess this will be the closest I get to the UK on this trip….no wait…I fly back through London…scratch that. The rock itself is a huge daunting cliff-sided mountain that juts right out of the sea. At the foot of it is spread a quaint little town. They use British money, they speak English….hell, they are British in every way here. Kinda strange.

Checked into a cheap hotel..paying 20 pounds a night for a small room. But that’s the cheapest they have here. It’s a big tourist trap.

After I got all settled, I took the cable car ride up to the top of The Rock. That was scary. There was a woman in the car who was deathly afraid of heights, so she was crying all the way. I felt bad for her, but I don’t know why they didn’t just take a cab ride up….I mean, there is a road and stuff.

When we got to the top, there was a guy standing there who said, “Welcome to The Rock” in a deep Scottish accent, and he pointed the way to go. WHAT A VIEW! I can understand why the British want to hold on to this place. You can see much of southern Spain, as well as across the straights to Africa. That was the first time I ever laid eyes on that continent. Seemed strangely inviting. Whoever controls The Rock, effectively controls access to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. Very strategic.

After thoroughly enjoying the view for a while, I met up with some Israelis (they are all over the place) and we went to check out the Ape Den. “The what?!”  Yeah, the Ape Den. Apes have apparently inhabited The Rock for hundreds of years. They roam freely about, and don’t seem to be bothered by the people. They come very close to you and let you feed and pet them. They aren’t overly friendly, but at least they tolerate your presence. There is nothing separating you from the apes, so there are all kinds of disclaimer signs saying, “Touch the monkey at your own risk”.

I watched them swinging around the trees for a while…and I handed one of them a bottle that he was playing with but dropped. He took it from me and chucked it over the side, then jumped from the wall on which he was sitting to a tree about 10 feet away. The trees are mostly where they chill, but if you have food, it’s best to keep it hidden cuz they will approach you and bug you till you give it to them. One lady had an unopened bag of chips, and one of the apes took it from her hands, sat on the wall and opened it (just like a human would do) and began to munch. Hours of delight. More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

After the monkeys, I went to a place called St. Michael’s Cave. This is a vast network of caves full of stalactites and stalagmites. I am sure you can picture this, if you have ever visited one of those underground caverns in upstate NY or wherever you are from. Very cool. Literally. It was hot as hell, and the cave gave a brief reprieve from the heat. It was also an amazing natural creation.

So I am back in town now. Maybe I will have some fish-n-chips. That’s the big deal here….it’s the real thing. Wait a sec…I hate fish.

One week to go.