The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Saturday, April 23, 2016


I rode up from Casablanca to Tangier just a couple of days ago, riding along at about 70 miles per hour on a very nice four lane toll road. I arrived just in time to catch the ferry to  Spain, although going through Moroccan customs to leave the country was so slow I didn't know if I would actually make the boat in time. By comparison, Spanish customs was a breeze.  Once in Spain, I drove about 8 miles to a hostal I had booked the night before over the internet. It turned out to be a marvelous place. Ran and owned by a Canadian, it was clean and quiet and a delight to stay in.  The following day I rode 10 miles to Gibraltar where I planned to explore for a couple of days.

Gibraltar is British; all that's left of the once vast British Empire. There was a long line of traffic waiting to get into the city/state, but it moved along quickly with customs giving only a cursory glance at passports.

I like the city of Gibraltar, but the hostal I had booked was terrible, dirty and smelling of fish. I won't list all the things it has wrong about it, but I found myself wishing I could go somewhere else. I couldn't though, because I would have had to pay the entire amount of my room anyway. Such are the chances you take when booking on the Internet. At about $50.00 a night, the filthy place was one of the most expensive I've stayed at on this trip; far more expensive at the clean and exotic $8.00 per night riads I had enjoyed in Morocco.

The tourist area of Gibraltar is quite nice, although crowded with Australians, Canadians, Americans, and European tourists. The natives of Gibraltar speak English, mostly, although their English is a sort of pidgin spoken very rapidly with dropped vowels and mangled consonants. They understand each other, but I couldn't understand them. They did know how to slow down and talk distinctly when talking to tourists.

Once thing I very much wanted to do was climb to the top of the "Rock"

I walked it, and there were a lot of others doing the same thing, but I could have taken a taxi, a tour, or a cable car up as well. Still, I enjoyed the exercise. The path started up through a lovely garden.

There were several sections to the garden, and one of those sections was put together by children.

Looking way off, one can see Africa over the Strait of Gibraltar.

One of those mountains in Africa, no one is sure which one, and the Rock of Gibraltar make up the Pillars of Hercules and mark the end of the world back in those long ago days of Greek and Roman myths. Beyond here was the fabled kingdom of Atlantis, and somewhere near here was the entrance to the underworld of Hades.

My path up the Rock of Gibraltar took me to a cave. The Romans knew about the cave. It is very deep and they probably never descended all the way into it. Was it the entrance to Hades?  Today, it is brightly lighted.

Back during times of war the cave was used by the British as a sort of hospital. Now, the large entrance is used as a concert hall.

There are monkeys called Macaques all over the Rock of Gibraltar. Natives of Africa, they have lost their tails and so they are called Barbary Apes even though they are not apes at all. They are quite the tourist attraction.

Shortly after the War of American Independence, the British found themselves weak militarily, and the Spanish figured that would be a good time to wrest control of Gibraltar away from England. During the almost four year siege, the British took refuge on the Rock, honeycombing it with defensive tunnels.

The British cannons looked down on the Spanish forces and there were battles and sorties going on all the time. Eventually, the French joined the Spanish in trying to take Gibraltar, but they were never able to do so.

I had to laugh at this sign in the tunnels. The Brits have a different sort of way of expressing themselves. I mean, our heads often tell us to do the most goofy things, so minding them might get a person in trouble. Still, "mind your head" makes as much sense as the American order to "watch your head" which is an impossible thing to do as you walk along.

Look at the airport way down below. The road into the city/state of Gibraltar goes right across it. Once, the area where the airport is was a racetrack, but during World War II the racetrack was replaced by the airport which was used during the invasion of Africa. That invasion was commanded by General Eisenhower from Gibraltar and it was used as practice for the invasion of Europe. The British did not at all want to get rid of the racetrack, but there is no stopping progress.

I am glad I came to Gibraltar. Once, I mentioned to a Brit that I wanted to go visit Gibraltar and the response I got was "Why!!??" Maybe they don't think much of the place, but it was certainly worth a visit. Now, though, it is time for me to head back into Spain and up into the mountains. There are some quaint villages in southern Spain recommended to me as very good places to see. I am told the rides to them are spectacular.

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