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Gibraltar

GIBRALTAR

schedule?? itinerary?? apes?

sunny 59 °F

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Ship's passengers often refer to this cruise as the "Mystery Cruise." Over and over our itinerary is changed because we have Covid aboard or the country has Covid within, because the seas are too rough or because a country (like Israel) closes a port and delays the ship for a day to do Covid testing. This week, we sailed into Malta's harbor and discovered that the sea was too high to get a pilot aboard to take us into the port - so no Malta, and since Morocco is still closed (Covid again), we were diverted to Gibraltar. We are without doubt the most adaptable, patient, uncomplaining, and prompt passengers ever to sail.

So we explored Gibraltar and are fascinated. It is TINY! This British Overseas Territory measures 2.6 square miles. We travelled across the whole country in an hour! Here is what we saw in an overview of this very lovely but crowded land. Not a square foot is wasted. 10% of Gibraltar is reclaimed land pushing out from its shore; thus the tenth century city walls are quite few blocks inland. The airport's main runway sticks out into the sea and is crossed by the main highway. In the second photo, that's us crossing the runway; when a plane starts to land or take off, they flash the red lights and lower the gates. In the third photo, that waterfall is artificial. There is such a water shortage here that every dwelling has two supplies - salted (that would be for flushing, etc.) and desalinated. The salty residue from the desalination process is converted into the attractive waterfall that returns to the sea. Photos four and five are of WWII tunnels. The Rock is crisscrossed/layered by a 34 MILE network of tunnels. Remember the whole territory is 2.6 square miles big! The Arabs/Moors, the French and Dutch, the Spanish, and then the Brits and Canadians and Americans have all continued the digging for their various separate purposes, all military. In WWII, the Americans and Canadians (the best diggers because they had diamond tipped drills) hollowed out a place for 16,000 troops to live. It is an eerie experience to walk the tunnels and imagine the isolation and fear and pain they surrounded.

Back on the top of the rock, we played with some Barbary apes who are really tailless monkeys. There are 280 in Gibraltar, all named, all having received shots, all pesky. Because the animals grab purses and backpacks and enter houses to ransack pantries for cookies, they have been banished to a nature reserve on the top. Food (restaurant leftovers) is trucked up to them, and if they scamper down, a vet returns them to the park. But beware! Repeat offenders are deported to Scotland!!

This is an astounding place. in its small area, there are many churches, a Buddhist temple, 2 mosques, and 5 synagogues. Everyone speaks English, Spanish and a local language called Llanito. The tongue is based on Spanish and British English and elements from Maltese, Portuguese, Genoese and Italian. This Gibraltarian assimilation and cooperation and respect contrasts strongly with the military battles here over the right to own this strategic spot.

Posted by HopeEakins 15:29 Archived in Gibraltar Comments (1)

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