Day 6 - Gibraltar and Back

The music never stops. Its still throbbing at 7am when I decide I've had enough and I'm going to complain in the strongest possible terms. Well not really. I wander along the beach as the sun desperately tries to get up from its sleepless night. There are four young people outside the bar, still moving to the techno rhythms.

At 9am the music stops. None of us got much sleep. Abbie's ear problem is getting worse, so it is decided to get her to a doctor. Sam suggests we head for Gibraltar so we can find an English-speaking doctor. We were going that way anyway. Also, Sam wants to get his flat tyre fixed to we have two spares for the rest of the journey.

There are no road signs to Gib - something we assume is due to the Spanish embarrassment for having a little bit of the Empire on their doorstep - but we know the way. West. Still no roadsigns. Then we round a corner and there it is. Unmistakable. Clouds form in the wind shadow of this imposing rock.

First view of Gibraltar

Now there are signs for Gib, but they aren't needed. There's a thin strip of Spain that connects Gib to the rest of the world, and at the end of that is the frontier. We go straight through and across the runway. Instantly the two and half thousand km between us and England are gone. We are in a world of proper traffic lines, familiar policemen, legible roadsigns and of course, awful parking. After driving round most of the lower part of the island with Sam pointing out miscellaneous bits of military hardware, we pull into a parking place and I kiss the ground as we get out of Elsa.

Sam and Abbie head off to find a doctor and explore, and I sit inside and listen to the World Service on the radio. They return, and I hear how different doctor's hours are in Gibraltar. The clinic opens at 5pm. Perhaps this is after they've finished with all the rich clients. Perhaps its because it is Sunday. That explains why the garage is also shut, so Sam can't get Elsa's flat tyre fixed. Anyway, that means we have an afternoon to spend here. So we decide that we're not going to make Africa today and play tourist for the day.

The tourist signs point us up the hill and we park Elsa up a lane half way up the rock. There are paths all over the rock, dotted with old military ruins.

looking down from Gib

Sam points out all the ships in the harbour. There's also a British nuclear submarine, which is in Gib for repairs but the spanish aren't too happy about it.

The tracks climb the side of the rock, and from the crest you can look over the side and see the dizzying drop over to the Med beyond.

View from the rock

Into the Med

We head for the cafe and gift shop and sit and eat ice creams while watching the battleships through our binoculars. As we drive down the steep tracks back into the town we pass the famous Gibraltar monkeys, fattened by tourist offerings.

We find the Gibraltar Safeway. Its the biggest shop we've seen for six days. We get lots of tins of food to keep us going through the next three weeks, since we dont know what food provisions will be like in Morocco. We also get enough mineral water to fill several jerry cans, and spend ten minutes in the car park emptying plastic bottles into our jerries.

Its now pat five and the clinic should be open. I head off with Abbie while Sam sits in Elsa and ponders our purchases. The clinic seems to be full of children and mothers. After waiting about half an hour Abbie is in and out in two minutes. She has a prescription for some antibiotics, so we head off to find a pharmacist in the back alleys of the town.

Its now dinner time, and so we find a pub. Having a meal cooked for us, with no need to think about washing up is quite a refreshing change. There's too much for me and Abbie to finish, so Sam tucks in and almost licks our plates clean.

So where to camp for tonight? We hope that last night's rave was a Saturday night thing and the devout Spanish wouldn't permit such a thing on a Sunday night. So we head out of Gibraltar and back to the beach. There are fewer people on the beach now, and there's no techno music banging out of the bar. At 11pm a small family arrive in a camper van and unpack their house - including children, dogs and pet birds. They start cooking their dinner and make noises for another couple of hours. We decide to sleep in the tent to keep the sand out of our sleeping bags.

Maybe tomorrow we'll get over to Africa, but there's a few things we need to sort out first.

- Back to Gibraltar