Late Saturday morning, Main Street in Gibraltar looks like Woodbury Commons on any given day except Saturday- teeming with Orthodox Jews. We followed the trail of black hats to the four Gibraltar synagogues. A stately distinguished man in a well-made three-piece suit struck up a conversation with us outside the first synagogue. He told us that his family has been “on the rock” for 270 years and that last year he was the mayor of Gibraltar. His brother-in-law is the honorable Sir Joshua Hassan, a former Gibraltarian governor. The Jewish community here is largely Sephardic and all Orthodox. The friendly community members told us that they are mostly professionals with degrees from British universities. There is obviously a fair number of storekeepers also, since we saw many stores bearing the names of Cohens and Levys and closed for Sabbath.
The locals call Gibraltar “The Rock”, but it is more than a rock. There is a vast flat area around it that is built up with old houses and modern apartment blocks. The locals speak English officially and Spanish to each other.
We went up the rock in a taxi driven by a gregarious and opinionated driver. He managed to dis everybody, from the Jews and Hindus of Main Street to Bush and Blair. But most of his rage was directed against Spaniards. Apparently, Spain wants Gibraltar and the Great Britain does not really care if Spain takes it, but Gibraltarians themselves are overwhelmingly against it.
The top of the rock was overrun with friendly monkeys. They learned the trick to be nice to the humans who give them treats. They jumped on our car and from there, one of them jumped on my head. She grabbed my hair and my face – she didn’t mean any harm, just needed something to hold on to. Another monkey put her paw on Kenny’s shoulder, but this lover of animals valiantly rejected the friendly gesture.
The rock has an elaborate cave we also visited. The cave is magnificent with stalagmites and stalactites as expected, and a concert hall set up in the biggest chamber. Classical music was pouring out of speakers and was magnified by the cave.
Gibraltar is where the Atlantic Ocean meats the Mediterranean Sea. It turned out my geography knowledge was not as good as I thought. All along I thought we were on the Mediterranean while we have been on the Atlantic, thus – the waves. Now back in the womb of the Mediterranean, we are nice and cozy, small ship notwithstanding, and that is how I like it.