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Yesterday, I had a monkey on my head.

November 2, 2006

So, Halloween has come and gone, and November is upon us. Unfortunately, Halloween was a bit of a bust for me this year– I got suddenly and inexplicably ill Tuesday evening, and ended up going to bed early rather than reveling it up in my costume (which was rather nice, I think). There's one photo of me in costume, which I took Monday night when I was still feeling well and preparing for the party. All's well that ends well, however, and Halloween will come again, so I don't feel too put out.

The trip to Gibraltar yesterday was another matter entirely– it was fantastic, start to finish. The Rock is absolutely more breathtaking in real life than it is in the photos…it's very dramatic to see it jutting up towards the sky, seemingly out of nowhere. No wonder the British didn't want to let it go…they recognize a good bit of drama when they see it!

We started at the Southernmost tip of the rock, Europa Point, from which you can see the city of Algeciras (Spain), the Northern Coast of Morocco (Africa), and the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Just for general info, the Strait of Gibraltar is what separates the continents of Europe and Africa, and it's also the only place where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. (Mom, I hope you're proud of me for paying attention to what the tour-guide was telling us…) My favorite moment of this portion of the tour was looking across the Strait to see Morocco rising out of the mists…it was spectacularly beautiful and mysterious…only 15 miles away, but at the same time worlds apart. I'll get there someday.

Our next stop was St. Michael's Cave/The Ape's Den. Yes, monkeys…I'll get to them in a bit. St. Michael's is just one of over 140 caves that have been discovered inside the rock, but this one is of particular interest because there is a THEATRE inside of it. Yes. Cave with theatre in it…they apparently stage ballets, dramas, operas, and concerts inside. I imagine the acoustics must be pretty good, what with it being rock and all. Aside from that, the cave is also loaded with stalactites and stalagmites (from the ceiling and from the ground, respectively), one of which was so old and heavy that it actually fell over on its side, revealing the crystallization within. Remember geodes, anyone?

When I left the cave, the first thing that I noticed was a very small monkey, perched on top of the bar and making A LOT of noise. Then I realized that there were monkeys EVERYWHERE, and I'll be the first to admit I went a little nuts with the monkey photos. I feel justified, though, because they are the only "free" monkeys to be found in Europe…no keepers or cages for these little guys. Our guide told us that there are 300 monkeys that have made their home in Gibraltar. There are also 300 Bobbies (police officers). Coincidence? Anyway, the only downside to the monkeys being free is that they're sneaky little buggers– I watched one monkey go into a girls bag and steal a piece of fruit…while she was taking a picture of another monkey! Also, for a nut, the monkeys will climb on top of your head for awhile. After watching a few of my friends do this, I decided that I was all set with having a monkey on my head, and that I just wanted Heather to take a picture of me with the monkey behind me. The monkey, however, had other ideas. It's a good thing I'm not a screamer!

After the tour my friends and I hit the square in downtown Gibraltar and dug into some fish and chips for lunch…hurray for British food! There was some confusion with the bill, because the official currency is the Pound Sterling and we were all carrying Euro, but it all worked out in the end. Also, in case you are wondering (because I was), the Gibraltarians do NOT drive on the left side of the road. I was told that originally they did, but that this caused many problems (and accidents) when people would try to cross the border, and so in 1929 they gave up and began to drive on the correct (ahem! right…) side of the road!

Overall, a very good day…Gibraltar is a bit crowded (30,000 people in 2.5 sq. km.) but still very charming…they were British originally, afterall. I would definitely like to go back…even if it's just to stare longingly at Morocco!

Photos Here!

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