Travelling The Alphabet — G is for Gibraltar

Gibraltar — 1994

This trip was a single slightly long weekend with my younger son to give him some quality time and attention because his life at home was an ordeal in so many ways. But that is his story and thus not might to explain in greater detail. It was also his eleventh birthday present from me. We flew out to go on a dolphin safari in the straits of Gibraltar and we were both really looking forward to it enormously.

Our hotel was simple enough and we shared a twin room which meant we really did have time together and I for one loved every minute of it.

Our first trip out onto the water left us both reeling with nausea. I hadn’t realised how a large ferry to the continent differed to a small catamaran in terms of motion sickness potential. We both spent most of that excursion on our backs looking skyward as the best position to prevent deeper levels of nausea. So we didn’t see many dolphins but there weren’t that many that day anyway. We came ashore, rested until we both recovered our equilibrium and found a pharmacy which sold Stugeron. That evening we ate in a sweet little café and chatted about the difference between superstition and religion. Ben was keen on in depth philosophical conversations. I noticed a couple next to our table listening intently to our conversation, whether they were astonished at the wisdom that emanated from my eleven year old sons mouth or they disagreed with our conversation was unclear.

The following day we took our tablets at breakfast and went out onto the water with no ill-effects at all. We were able to look over the boat sides and between the twin hulls to watch the dolphins surfing along with us, playing in the bow waves and swooping up between the twin hulls to breach just out of reach of our outstretched hands. We saw baby dolphins clearing the water in leaps but sandwiched between two older chaperones guiding and nurturing the young ones in their expressions of shared delight. Two species, human and cetacean, just enjoying hanging out with each other, just taking fun from the playful moments. There were a lot more dolphins this second day, mostly common dolphins but also I think we saw bottle-nosed dolphins too, so that we did not feel we had missed out much and both of us just loved it. The possibility of seeing larger cetaceans had been mentioned as occasionally schools of orca pass by here and other whales too, but sadly not on our watch that day. We were happy though, Ben had seen what he wanted to see and his birthday wishes were met.

After lunch we explored up into the interior of this rocky hillside, which is mostly all that Gibraltar is. The most historic feature of this fortress outpost guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean sea are the various tunnels built between the 1780’s and the second world war up to the 1960’s. These are protecting both supplies or resources and acting at places to shoot from and defend or attack from depending on your point of view. You can walk for a long time through their winding passage ways and they’re surprisingly interesting and pleasant, sometimes affording great views across the straits and below over the rock itself. In addition to the tunnelling activities of around two hundred miles in total as a limestone rock it is also full of natural caverns and fissures. We sadly didn’t have much time left to do much more than this here though. We spent time with the barbary macaques and Ben had one sitting on his head for a photo shoot. They were quite accustomed to tourists but very unpredictable and semi-wild; their curiosity of us outweighing any caution they had in jumping and climbing on and around us. It was a lovely ending to a simple but special weekend we shared. The following day we flew home again and it was back to normal life for both of us.

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