Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Straight on the Strait of Gib from G.B.

Bears don't have pockets so I never seem to have change. I have a pair of bipedal attendants but they're notoriously unreliable. This normally isn't a big deal but when I first visited Gibraltar - or Gib - I wanted to make a few phone calls from their groovy phone booths. Unfortunately I had to settle for a photo op. I don't mind adding that, when I was there, there was quite the line-up to have one's picture taken in a traditional English phone booth. Some people are such attention seekers.

I like Gib because it's geographically and historically interesting and because my bipedal attendants can drink excellent English beer and that keeps them quiet. Western Europe and Morocco are divided by the Strait of Gibraltar and this strait is linked by the so-called Pillars of Hercules, with Gib on the north and probably Jebel Musa on the south. No one can really decide about the Moroccan bit. There are two other Moroccan towns vying for the crown but, to be honest, it's only Gib I really care about here.

Besides being a former international fashion model and freelance Goodwill Ambassador, I spend a lot of time signing autographs and reading the Classics. One of the 12 Labours of Hercules was to return the cattle of Ge
ryon from Spain to the king of Tiryns. En route he had to climb the mountain which was actually once the giant Atlas but he decided to smash a path through it rather than go up and down it. Using his brute strength, he split the mountain. Not only could he pass directly through it but Hercules also effectively joined the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. VoilĂ : the Strait of Gibraltar.

The people of Gib have commemorated this rather destructive feat of engineering by erecting t
he "Passage of Time" memorial at the Jew's Gate on the Upper Rock - which underscores Gibraltar's association with the Pillars of Hercules. You can see me between the two pillars and although I'm strong (I am a bear after all) I'm not strong enough to support the world!

Not far from the Jew's Gate are the Apes dens. I don't know if bears and apes have gotten along well historically - although I'd like to think so - but I didn't have much of a chance to talk to these ones. One of my bipedal attendants (the female one) is a little freaked out by monkeys, so we didn't spend too much time here.

These Barbary rock apes - or Macaques - are awfully used to people. Visitors to the Rock like to have their photos taken with the apes and sometimes even feed them. But it's important to remember that they are still wild
animals. As a Goodwill Ambassador I am a role model to millions of people and I have to respect the law. Needless to say, I didn't feed the apes. Even if I had wanted to - and I didn't because it is against the law - my bipedal attendant (the female one) would never have allowed it.

I've been to Gib half a dozen times now and although I always risk being mobbed by autograph hounds, I love visiting. It reminds me of my former international fashion model days when I would fly to London for my shoots - but this is better! Not only can I drive a right-hand drive car (although I usually employ a driver), have a pint of Fuller's London Pride and buy a bag of crisps at Marks & Spencer, I can enjoy the balmy climate of the Mediterranean! England with palm trees! This is a bear's - and an apes' - paradise!


Anonymous said...

Dear Grey Bear
How does it feel being a "former" International Fashion Model?

Grey Bear said...

Sometimes I miss the glamour and excitement. The travel of course was wonderful but some of my colleagues were a bit vacuous.