Fun with the Monkeys

No guesses where?

No guesses where?

Have you ever been clouted around the head by a monkey?  No?  I hadn’t either, until last week on Gibraltar.  It wasn’t a deliberate act on the monkey’s part. At least, I don’t think so!  I had read the advice on not interacting with them and just letting them get on with their lives.  We’re the intruders, after all.  I was happy to just take a couple of shots and move on.

The problem arose when I leaned over the wall, holding tight to my camera, to take a shot of a mother and youngster just below me.  Mum was busy with her fruit and the youngster desperate to get in on the act.  As he squirmed about, I tried to get a good shot.  Suddenly- smack!  Two medium sized monkeys had galloped along the wall and straight over my head.  Serves me right for leaving it in such a vulnerable place!  The good news is that I didn’t drop the camera down the face of the Rock.  Now that would have been a disaster!  Here’s the shot I was striving for.

Not so great, is it?

Not so great, is it?

So, that’s me and monkeys!  Shall I tell you about the rest of the trip?  It was a pre-dawn start and a four and a half hour bus ride from the Eastern Algarve.  Some foolish folks at Lagos, in the western end, had boarded at 4.20am!  I’m fine once I’m on board and rolling.  A new panorama unfolding outside my window is always a buzz for me.  I watched the sun coming up through the umbrella pines in perfect contentment.

Over the Spanish border and just past Lepe, sudden thick fog descended and I had a moment of panic.  I had left the Algarve sunshine for this? Somewhere south of Seville it began to clear and my nose was then pressed hard against the window.  I hadn’t been prepared for the lovely lakeside scenery around Los Barrios, when finally, there it was, up ahead- the unmistakable shape of The Rock.

It was midday and melting hot.  Pedro, our affable tour guide, had arranged for minibuses to whisk us up to the heights.  Truth be known, there wasn’t much whisking going on!  Traffic in Gibraltar was gridlocked due to some power failure or whim of its own.  It’s that kind of place!  A very smiley Moroccan eventually manoeuvered us onto his minibus and we set off.  Some of the Brits on the bus were very offended by the German audio commentary.  I just dissolved into giggles!  A comedy of errors it definitely was.  It was a relief to be free of the traffic and allowed off the bus at Europa Point.

Trinity Lighthouse.  Isn't it a good-looker?

Trinity Lighthouse. Isn’t it a good-looker?

 

But the best bit was Morocco, beyond the shimmering sea

But the best part was the sight of Morocco, lying in a shimmering haze

Normally I research a destination to death before I set foot in it, but I hadn’t been sure that Gibraltar would be an option, so I arrived equipped only with a few preconceptions.  Back on the minibus, I was in for a very pleasant surprise.  Have you heard of St. Michael’s Cave?  A natural grotto, it was apparently used during World War II as a hospital.  Currently it stages a beautiful light show.  There is an auditorium too for private events.

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I’m not fond of caves but it had me entranced for a little while.  The views from the top of The Rock were pretty impressive too.  I would have loved to whizz down on the cable car but the minibus returned us to shore level.  With not a lot of time to spare, I headed for the Tourist Information Office in Casements Square to pick up a map.

Looking out from The Rock

Looking out from The Rock

A tree with style but not many leaves!

A tree with style but not many leaves!

I might have liked a wander through the town, but the main sights had been pointed out on our way down and my next priority had to be boats. There are two marinas, one of which (Queensway) seemed to include a rather nice bathing area.  No time for that, so I headed to Ocean Village, which was also in the direction of the border where I had been dropped off. Yes, it was a little glitzy and fake, but I am a complete sucker for any kind of marina.  The bars and restaurants were full of happy, smiling faces- endless cocktail hour, apparently.  And boats!

Just a small one- please!

Just a small one- please!

Boat heaven!

Boat heaven!

There was just time to linger for a wrap and a glass of wine, while the misters on the corners of the umbrellas sprayed us, and the food, at regular intervals!  Pedro had warned us to allow plenty of time to return from the town and pass through the border controls.  There was a no.5 bus but it seemed far more adventurous to walk back across the airport runway.  I had hoped to see a plane landing and I was in luck.  Barely had I crossed the runway than sirens sounded and the barriers came down.  Such an air of anticipation!  I shuffled my feet and gazed expectantly with the rest of the crowd.  Ten or fifteen minutes passed.  I awaited the heavy drone of engines and a rush of wings.

Eventually there was a tiny humming sound.  My vision is not the very best and I had to peer quite hard to see the incoming flight.  I barely just caught it on camera.

Can you spot it?

Can you spot it?

I’m sure that I missed lots, but I got a flavour of the place, which is all that a visit like this can give.  Was it what I expected?  Mostly, yes.  A little crazy, but with a certain charm.

111 comments

  1. I’m surprised you haven’t seen Gibraltar before now, Jo! I know you can’t resist a marina. It seems those boating types are always on a perpetual happy hour. I’d be happy too if I owned a fancy boat! I can barely see that plane coming in for a landing. It took me a while; it was sort of like searching for Waldo. Wow, Morocco is really close to the Rock, isn’t it? Fun trip, Jo! 🙂

      1. Now you’re talking. If you won’t come visit me in China, then we’ll definitely have to meet in Morocco. You know that’s been on my wish list for a long time!!

      2. No, I’m at home, Jo. My holiday ended on October 6. Now I’m at home playing catch up!! I’m writing a blog post about my trip to the Guangxi Medicinal Plant Garden today. Enjoy your Sunday. xxx

  2. Those are such cute monkeys indeed Jo and it looks like you had lots of fun there. I can see you enjoyed the boats. I know how you love them. It’s just beautiful there. Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 ♥ Hugs ♥

      1. Same here hon. Decided to look in on the blogs today and no, haven’t felt like doing much lately. LOL! I am doing fine thanks hon. Cleaning house, lazing by the pool, watching the birds and monkeys and taking photo’s … and then I don’t know what to do with them. hahahaha.

    1. This time last week, Bams, I would have been heading for the beach one last time. It’s been the most grey, miserable week of weather since I got back. I’m hoping for an improvement 🙂

  3. I’ve never been to Gibraltar so it was great to see your pics but if I ever do go I’ll be sure not to get too close to those pesky monkeys 😉 As always, love the lighthouse and the cave looks intriguing. Interesting that it was used once as hospital. A lovely day out 🙂

    1. I think it must have been the most gloomy hospital in the world, Sherri. I’m no lover of caves. But they didn’t have many secure places and I don’t suppose the patients cared where they were.
      It’s a place I could have a love/hate relationship with, if you know what I mean. The expat factor is a bit of a turn off for me, though you should never judge them all for the folly of a few.

  4. I risked being clobbered by a monkey on our visit to the hills in June. I believe they can be quite aggressive, but how can one ignore those photo ops? 🙂 Good thing you didn’t drop the camera Jo!

    Gib looks lovely. We just paid our respects from a distance en-route to Morocco from Spain many years ago. Would have loved to spend a day there.

  5. Hi again Jo – I had time to quickly scan the comments and I liked what Paula shared and just want dot chime in that I do not think it was too many photos – not at all. and I love how you added little tag lines to the collage photos – but I think it was just the right amount of pictures for a meaty post – and you also highlight the nontraditional places that people can travel to – and so dear restless one – keep doing what you do because you are allowing us to see parts of the world we may never see otherwise – with your personable humor gently woven in.

  6. enjoyed your fun post – and as always I like your writing because it flows so quickly and easily – yet it is rich with descriptions but never overdone – just natural – for example, “I watched the sun coming up through the umbrella pines in perfect contentment.” agh

    all photos fit in so well – but a few that stood out extra were the lines in that tree, the breathtaking sight of Morocco, and the very first shot because you can see the monkeys hair standing up – and you can feel the softness and truly it was a potent photo to start the post with – also – the cave looks beautiful –

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments and support, Yvette. I had enormous fun with this post. I like the ones where I can inject a little personality instead of just photos. Many thanks for being so appreciative. Hugs! 🙂

  7. “Have you ever been clouted around the head by a monkey?” Only the ones who live in my house.

    Great photos, Jo. Loved the cave.

    I was working as an au pair for an English family when they took their annual holiday to Marbella and I was allowed to tag along. One day they let me borrow the hire car and I did a day trip to Gibraltar. Scariest drive of my life – they drive on the wrong side of the road there, you know.

    1. Driving in Gib looked pretty much a nightmare to me too, but mostly because you didn’t seem to go anywhere. 🙂 Much quicker on foot! Thanks a lot for reading. Keep up the smiles 🙂

  8. I’m glad you’re okay and did not drop your camera. A thrilling close encounter with the monkeys. Beautiful and exciting images. I felt like I journeyed with you. Thanks. Have a great week my friend.

  9. Your monkey story had me in stitches, gotta watch them, they can be very cheeky! At least you got some pictures of them; they are quite big.
    Love the rest of your photos, they are amazing.

  10. I’ve read how mean those monkeys are, they have a run of the place. Morocco is a stone’s throw away. I took a day tour once and hopefully next time I could stay longer and farther.

  11. Your monkey tale (tail?) had me in stitches. And the caves? I’m not so sure I’d be very comfortable with that, but I’d give it a go. Great shots, Jo. You sure are the happy traveler! Lucky you. 🙂

  12. What an unexpected and rich post. You certainly move around. I want to comment on everything. It’s a great description of the clouting: just as well you had your head screwed on right. I wanted to see “the lovely lakeside scenery”: do you ever shoot from the bus? The cave slideshow was a beauty. My favourites were the subdued bluey-purpley ones: garishness didn’t do any favours to the glory of the formations (in my view). Boats? Me too, but I’m a wooden-boat snob, thanks to the contagion of the Man. Materials don’t matter when it comes to reflections, though. Misters? A lovely image in my head, until I realised what you meant – not Misters, but misters.

    1. I try for variety in my posts, if I can do it, Meg, and this was definitely a bit of fun. I did take a few shots of the lakes but none that I could publish, unless I messed around in processing, and you know lazy me! We went from flat Spanish plains into the mountain area long before we hit Gibraltar and it was unexpectedly beautiful to me. I’m so glad you commented on that because I Googled it meaning to send you the link and discovered that it is in fact Los Barrios. I must have misread the sign as we raced past. I was mortified and have now changed it- so thanks!
      http://www.andalucia.com/province/cadiz/losbarrios/home.htm

      I agree about the caves. The palest aquamarines were lovely but some of them were blurred in my shots. I’m a terrible photographer! I smiled as I wrote ‘misters’ so misleadingly, too. Hugs!

  13. Loved your story of the monkeys, you got some great shots of them – a little dangerous, thank goodness you didn’t lose the camera! It’s always a treat to see your ports of call – wow, these scenes are stunning.

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