The characteristic rock of Gibraltar slowly came into view on the fourth morning after leaving Cartagena. It had been a really nice trip, with many dolphins and even whales around the boat. Nobody was seasick, and we had plenty of time to play the guitarlele and read. But at night the Spanish coast guard would call out pan-pans, asking all boats to look out for rubber boats that had been set adrift from Morocco with 79, 95 or even 130 people on board. We felt really sorry for the desperate people onboard, but never saw any of them on the water.
As we approached Gibraltar, the traffic of cargo ships got more intense and we made sure to stay out of the way until it was light enough for us to head for the marina of La Linea on the Spanish side of the border. As always, we were the smallest cruising boat in the marina, and we ended up all alone on the pontoon for small boats – but with a magnificent view of the rock.
We spent a day getting the boat and ourselves sorted, and then it was time to head to the top of the rock to see the apes. We crossed the border to Gibraltar – and suddenly we were in the UK, complete with British signposts and pubs. We found our way to the footpath that would take us up, and soon it was time for lunch next to an old cannon and with beautiful views of the Strait of Gibraltar all the way to Morocco. We walked past the entrance to the many kilometers of tunnels that carve through the rock, and which were used as a hospital and home for the soldiers during world war two. And soon we saw the stairs that lead to the home of the apes. They are fed in the same place every day, so it’s easy to know where to find them. As we walked up the stairs we soon saw the first pair of apes. We had to walk in between them and were a bit apprehensive as we weren’t sure if they would be aggressive. But we soon learned that that was not the case, and saw how they would crawl on the roofs of the taxis and even sit on the arms of tourists. Runa and Mattis spent a long time watching the animals, and when they were finally done, we walked the last distance to the top of the rock where a huge cannon used to be ready to fire at anybody trying to go through the strait. Now it has been converted into a small museum, and we learned how much work went into firing a cannon like this.
After the hike we naturally had to go and get fish and chips for dinner, not a huge hit with our strange kids, but the adults liked it.
And then the weather turned really bad, with strong winds and rain for the next week. So we stayed put in the boat, doing school, baking cake, watching movies. Mattis and Esben braved the weather and went to Gibraltar to buy an ipod for Mattis, and we even went back to the top of the rock so that Mattis could make his own pictures of the apes. And we also prepared for Halloween. Runa and Mattis carved a pumpkin head, we made a very scary chocolate-fondant cake and were invited to a boat-kid-Halloween-party at the marina. But finally the winds were in the right direction for us, so we ended up leaving just before the party started, hoping that we would be able to enter the harbor of Rabat before it was closed again due to too much wind. But that wasn’t to be…