Sunday, October 7, 2007

Going Ape On Gibraltar

We'd been in Spain and Portugal for ten days. We had prepared ourselves for the cold wet weather, it was February after all. But we had not expected the lack of heat and hot water in several of the pensiones where we'd stayed. The morning we rolled up to the border crossing to enter Gibraltar, I was cold, hungry and homesick.

When the guard in the crossing booth asked for our passports in his precise English accent, I almost jumped out of the car and kissed him. Then we drove a few hundred yards down the road and on my right I saw a Safeway grocery store and knew I was in Heaven!

After we hung out in the quaint downtown for awhile, we got on the tram to take us to the lofty heights of The Rock. The views were truly spectacular and we were awed by the formations inside the limestone caves. Since it was a beautiful clear day, we opted to walk part of the way back down and found ourselves at the only other tram stop on the mountainside. This spot was also the favorite hang-out for a large group of the famous Gibraltar apes, which are rather large tailless monkeys. And the males have quite impressive teeth.

While waiting for the tram to arrive we watched some of the moms with their babies and a few larger youngsters playing along the stone wall designed to keep us humans on the path. I took a couple more pictures of the harbor, and the apes. In spite of signs in several languages warning NOT to feed or tease the apes, some people waiting with us started offering them cookies. Meanwhile, DH took the camera and directed me to stand over near the wall so he could get some shots of me with the apes in the background. Only they didn't STAY in the background.

As I stood smiling and oblivious, a half-grown "teen" ape made a big leap toward my shoulder. I saw him just as he made contact. I screamed, jumped and pushed him away. I think he may have yelped too as he bounced onto the pavement, then leaped back over the wall. The DH was doubled over laughing, and yes, he got one picture but it was blurry because both the ape and I were moving QUICKLY! VERY QUICKLY! DH still claims that the fastest he's ever seen me move.

Fortunately, the tram arrived a couple of minutes later. Once we were safely back within the confines of Safeway and I'd consumed a Cadbury chocolate bar, I was able to laugh about my misadventure with a young, and maybe amorous (or at least hungry) ape.

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