Friday, March 18, 2011

Going Ape On Gibraltar

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Not long ago, I watched an excellent travel program all about the Camino Santiago Pilgrimage in Spain. The show brought back memories of my trip to Spain and Portugal and one of the funniest moments of my travel adventures.

We'd been in Spain and Portugal for ten days. We had prepared ourselves for the cold wet weather, it was February after all. But we had not expected the lack of heat and hot water in several of the pensiones where we'd stayed. The morning we rolled up to the border crossing to enter Gibraltar, I was cold, hungry and homesick.

When the guard in the crossing booth asked for our passports in his precise English accent, I almost jumped out of the car and kissed him. Then we drove a few hundred yards down the road and on my right I saw a Safeway grocery store and knew I was in Heaven!

After we hung out in the quaint downtown for awhile, we got on the tram to take us to the lofty heights of The Rock. The views were truly spectacular and we were awed by the formations inside the limestone caves. Since it was a beautiful clear day, we opted to walk part of the way back down and found ourselves at the only other tram stop on the mountainside. This spot was also the favorite hang-out for a large group of the famous Gibraltar apes, which are rather large tailless monkeys. And the males have quite impressive teeth.

While waiting for the tram to arrive we watched some of the moms with their babies and a few larger youngsters playing along the stone wall designed to keep us humans on the path. I took a couple more pictures of the harbor, and the apes. In spite of signs in several languages warning NOT to feed or tease the apes, some people waiting with us started offering them cookies. Meanwhile, DH took the camera and directed me to stand over near the wall so he could get some shots of me with the apes in the background. Only they didn't STAY in the background.

As I stood smiling and oblivious, a half-grown "teen" ape made a big leap toward my shoulder. I saw him just as he made contact. I screamed, jumped and pushed him away. I think he may have yelped too as he bounced onto the pavement, then leaped back over the wall. The DH was doubled over laughing, and yes, he got one picture but it was blurry because both the ape and I were moving QUICKLY! VERY QUICKLY! DH still claims that the fastest he's ever seen me move.

Fortunately, the tram arrived a couple of minutes later. Once we were safely back within the confines of Safeway and I'd consumed a Cadbury chocolate bar, I was able to laugh about my misadventure with a young, and maybe amorous (or at least hungry) ape.

I realize not everyone can have an elephant follow them home from school like our Helen, but have you ever had an up-close and personal encounter with wild life? A rabid squirrel or prairie dog perhaps? Please share the details with Aunty and the rest of the Lair.

55 comments:

Slush said...

Aunty Cindy, awesome post! I laughed out loud about your husband's comment with you moving extremely fast.

I haven't had anything follow me home but there was a very interesting zoo trip.

The DH and I decided to take our 2 year-old and 1 year-old (several years ago) to the Zoo in Ashville, NC. While at the Orangutan area my 1 yr-old son wanted to get out of his stroller and approach a thick plexiglass window. Directly on the other side was an orangutan just staring down my son. My son approached the glass and stuck his tongue out on it (which gained a nasty squeal from me), then the orangutan did the same thing on the opposite side. I told my son, now 7, that it was his first kiss with a wild animal.

Slush said...

Kay... guess the chook wants to stay with me another day so I can wash the green paint off of him.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFLOL about your son's first kiss, Slush!

I remember the first time I took my son to the local zoo. He was about 2 years old and couldn't have cared less about the animals. He was too busy chasing the pigeons!

And yes, I think the GR is tired of his greenish hue and wants to be "golden" again. Good luck helping him scrub out that dye. ;-)

AC

Anna Campbell said...

Slush, people are starting to talk about you and Rooster lurve!

Cindy, I love it when you share your travel stories. I've driven past Gibraltar but we didn't stop and visit. I now wish we had. We were in Spain in the middle of winter and some of those places with no hot water were terrifyingly cold. I remember washing my hair in Avila and thinking I'd come out with icicles instead of blonde locks!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Fo!

I had the same experience in Ronda! BRRRR! (oh, except my locks were mostly black then) You'd have enjoyed Gibraltar. You'll have to go back one of these days. Just watch out for the apes! ;-)

AC

Donna MacMeans said...

LOL on the orangutan kiss, Slush. Obviously the GR is attracted to your "wild side."

AC - I think the sudden addition of an ape to my shoulder would make me scream as well. Maybe he recognized that you were cold from your February stay and wanted to warm you up (grin). I've never been to Portugal or Spain - but I'll make sure to do that trip sometime in the middle of summer!

It's not exactly an exotic animal, but a couple of years ago I was taking my ancient dog for a walk. The poor thing's eyesight was probably as bad as mine. We were walking at night - the streetlights were on. As we approached a busy corner, I noticed the streetlight had caught an unusual little shrub that I hadn't recalled seeing at that particular corner before. My dog went over to investigate. As I was walking past, I realized the shrub was really the raised tail of a skunk. I hauled heavily on that leash before my inquisitive pooch got more than she bargained for. I don't know we escaped getting sprayed - we were that close. Maybe the skunk has as poor of eyesight as we did.

Helen said...

Slush he really loves it at your place enjoy bathing him LOL

Aunty Cindy
What a great post I too love hearing stories of your travels one day I am going to do some major travelling although maybe not where the elephants are because I am sure another one would pick me out and follow me around LOL.

Even though at 6 years old I was so scared with that elephant bounding down the street behind me he never touched me I don't know what I would have done if he had got any closer than he was but to have an ape jump at you I think I would have fainted instead of run away LOL.

Taking kids to the zoo is always a great place for stories we have had many trips to the zoo with our kids when they were young and so much fun.

This is going to be a great blog with lots of great stories today

Have Fun
Helen

Slush said...

Anna- I promise my intentions with the chook are completely chaste and innocent.

I have no designs on the rooster, other than to assist him in getting rid of the green dye that has coated his lucious feather spread. LOL!

Also, the idea of no hot water is like not being able to breath (at least for me).

Anna Campbell said...

AC, I have very mixed feelings about Ronda. We went there after having all our luggage stolen in Seville. I was a bit shellshocked. I remember it as very pretty. I also remember I hid under the covers at the pensione and read until I could get my head together again.

Anna Campbell said...

And, Slush, you should talk to the Rooster about talking about of school. I'm just sayin'... ;-)

Sheree said...

Years ago, I was one of those people feeding an ape, but in my defense, I walked down so I didn't see the sign until later. Plus, I gave one part of my apple, not cookies.

The place I stayed at in Spain had hot and cold water, just not at the same time. Showering took a while because I had to wait for the water to cool down enough not to scald me (it went from freezing cold to scalding hot).

As for my "wildlife" encounter, I once fed a roll to an enormously pregnant squirrel. I had to stay very still and the poor thing waddled slowly to take the bread from my fingers.

jennifertanner said...

Hi AC!

I would've jumped out of my skin if a teenage ape landed on my shoulder. Helen...you were followed by an elephant???

When I was in first grade, I was on a field trip at William Land Park Zoo. The entire class stood in front of a large monkey cage offering up peanuts. He got mad because he couldn't eat them as fast as they were being thrown at him. He picked up his water bowl and threw it at us. Then he pe*d in his bowl and threw it at us. I'll never forget Little Miss Perfect-class tattletale with the blonde boing-boing curls getting the worst of it.
I'm also very fond of the wild burros at Red Rock, outside Vegas.

Congrats, on the GR, Slush.
Pink

Christie Kelley said...

What a great story, AC!

I was out walking one evening and noticed a rabbit just sitting in this small patch of grass. I was amazed that she didn't run off so I stopped to watch her for a moment. Then I realized she had two babies with her. I crouched down for a better look and the two bunnies hopped toward me. I put out my hand and one of them hopped on it.

I was shocked that the mother did nothing but watch us. I finally scooted the little babies back toward mom so she wouldn't worry. They were so cute I wanted to take them home (but would never have done that).

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

What a funny story. I can just see that. AC, faster than the speed of light!

I guess my only freaky close encounters were a couple of close calls with snakes when I was young. We lived out in the boonies, so it wasn't unusual to see snakes (which top my list of creepies). I almost stepped on a copperhead once, and another time I reached into a cabinet only to have a snake fall on my head. Thankfully it was only a chicken snake, but I still get chills thinking about it.

On the positive side, I've loved all my trips to Yellowstone, where you can see huge herds of bison and elk and all kinds of other critters. I was there one year during rut, and the bull elk were fighting for the females like crazy. The crack of their antlers hitting each other was amazingly loud.

Louisa Cornell said...

Slush, AGAIN ?? I think he is hiding out from the rest of us. Frodo did give him quite a scare when he stopped by my place.


Aunty! I'm sorry, but I had to laugh at your great ape adventure! I must admit I would have screamed and moved rather quickly myself!

When I was about 9 my friends and I spotted a mother duck on the side of the road. She'd been killed by car. Huddled around her were 6 little ducklings. We found a box and I took them home. I did what any bookworm of 9 would do, I found all the books I could on ducks and somehow managed to raise those babies. It caused quite a stir when I went walking down to the village post office followed by my feathered "offspring." Once they were grown I took them out to the local squires estate where I'd seen other ducks like these on one of the estate ponds. I assume their descendants are still returning their every year.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Awww, Louisa, I love the duckling story. So sad about the mama duck though. :(

Deb said...

Aunt Cindy, I'm sure that ape meant no "monkey business" on that trip, hehehe.

Prairie dogs, you say? Wels, when I was 7, our Danish cousins came for a visit and my dad's station wagon and my uncle's station wagon transported a total of 14 people to Wyoming and Colorado. (We kept in touch with walkie talkies). One motel in Wyoming was individual cabin-like units and the prairie dogs were all over the place. They'd come right up onto the porch to take crackers out of your hands. I'm surprised some didn't sneak into the cabins.

While on a visit to CA, my cousin Dorothy and I were having lunch on a pier one day when a gull flew onto the tabletop next to us. Do you know how big those birds really are up close?? BIG! Dorothy just calmly said, "Shoo, now," and off he flew.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL about the amorous ape in Gibraltar - I suspect they're just used to so many visitors.

Ooh - I loved Ronda! I was there filming a TV commercial many years ago.

We had plenty of wildlife encounters while in NJ, inlcuding our long-haired cat R2 being skunked uggh!. We also had regular visits from deer and raccoons and groundhogs.

My faves though are the chipmunks. They are so cute, but boy are they dumb. Our little girl cat Jersey Girl used to catch them all the time and bring them home. Unlike mice or voles, they do not try to escape, but do this silly little dance. Used to crack me up! I always managed to rescue them and set free, but really - a little self-help wouldn't go amiss!

One day I saw a chipmunk come face to face with Jersey Girl. The chipmunk didn't turn tail and run, but literally raised its paws in the air and squealed, like in a cartoon. OMG never seen anything so funny.

Deb said...

Edit button needed.
Well...

BJ said...

Mine was when the herd of basin decide that our camp was theirs while we were camping in Yellowstone!!!!
It was so funny...My hubby and I were just sitting there and all of a sudden they just come walking right up. We had NO place to go, our tent wasn't going to do us any good and the car was on the otherside of them. So we just sat like they weren't there. The Park ranger guy pulled up and yelled to us..."Don't move"...Like duh!...They took their dear sweet time looked around and walked to the otherside of our camp closer to the stream and decided they were going to "camp". The Yellowstone campground people were really nice, we got to stay the rest of the week for free and if we wanted we could even move our camp (which we didn't).It was cool cause now I have the "Big Bad Bison stole my campsite" story every time we talk about Yellowstone.

jo robertson said...

What an interesting and scary post, Cindy! I can just picture that ape trying to get his game on with you. Silly ape!

Congrats on getting the rooster today, Slush. Don't let him attack you; I understand he can get quite randy LOL.

jo robertson said...

My encounters with "wild life" have all been with the four-legged kind LOL.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Donna on the close encounters of the SKUNK kind! I've heard that tomato juice cuts the smell, so when we lived in the country, I always kept a huge can of it in the pantry in case my dogs got sprayed. They never did so I'm afraid I don't know if tomato juice really works or not... and I am NOT going in search of a skunk to find out!

AC
P.S. Maybe someone else has used tomato juice?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Helen,
I LOVE your elephant story! Everytime I picture a little Helen running from that HUGE animal, I get a smile on my face. ;-)

As for elephants, I rode one in Thailand, but only for a VERY SHORT distance. It was not very smooth (very much like the camel I rode in Tangiers) and the ground looked a VERY long way down! YIKES!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Fo,
That icy bath (there was NO shower) left me with pretty mixed feelings about Ronda too. But how AWFUL to have luggage stolen! :-( I'm sure you agree with Seville's nickname: the most evil city in Christendom!

We had our car broken into in Milan but all they took was Aunt Liz's ruck sack which had two magazines, a folding cup, and some prunes in it. She complained about losing her cup for the rest of the trip because she hated drinking wine and beer from paper cups!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Sheree,
You were hardly the only one feeding those apes. Maybe that's why I got jumped, because I WASN'T. :-P And at least you did give them a nice healthy apple.

LOL on the preggers squirrel! We have dozens of squirrels around here. They have a cushy life because everyone constantly feeds them. My pug-wa-wa HATES all of them with a passion and they taunt her all the time, staying just out of her reach (which isn't that difficult) when she is out for a walk.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OMGosh, Jen!

I can't stop laffing at Miss Blonde Curls getting a drenching in monkey urine. I guess you were all lucky it wasn't feces!

Speaking of burros, in the town of Oatman, Arizona the wild burros have the run of main street. They walk on the wooden sidewalks and poke their heads in all the stores begging for carrots. All the business sell "burro food" which is bags of raw carrots. I've been there a couple of times and the baby burros are sooo cute! But some of the larger ones will kick you if they think you are a threat.

AC

Anna Sugden said...

I can tell you tomato juice doesn't work on cats - we had to use a solution of hydrogen peroxide, washing up liquid and baking soda. Even then, we couldn't put it on his face or his backside.

I don't know if this is specific to cats, but it did work!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Glad you enjoyed by story, Christie!

I'm shocked too that wild bunnies didn't run away when they saw you. They must have known you were no threat.:-)

Long ago, my sister had a pet rabbit. Her name was Miss Rabbit -- original, I know! Now my sister has pet goats.

AC

Beth Andrews said...

AC, I not only would've jumped out of my shoes had that happened to me, but I probably would've ran all the way back to Safeway!

We live surrounded by woods so I've had several encounters with wild animals. The worst was two years ago when I walked back up to the house after picking up the morning paper from the box by the road and saw a huge black bear in our blueberry bushes. I started walking backwards to go around to the front of the house (instead of the back which was by the bushes) when our neighbor came outside and started yelling at the bear.

Unfortunately as the bear eased away, he came right at me, head lowered, big body swaying side to side. After the neighbor yelled again, the bear lumbered off into the woods.

My husband said the bear's head was lowered because they don't have good eyesight. Somehow, that failed to make me feel better *g*

Jeanne M said...

As soon as I read this post I recognized Gilbralter right away. My husband spent a lot of time when he was in the Navy over the Straits of Gilbralter in a P3 and we have some wonderful photographs of the Rock.

When I was younger my father used to love to go fishing in upstate New York and would take my sister and I along to help him slowly rowing his rowboat while he was fishing for trout. We would have to stay in a log cabin and the "bathroom" was an outhouse! I can remember having to visit it late at night and walking past deer at the salt lick. Even a deer can seem like a "wild animal" when you only 9!

Maureen said...

I haven't had any, but my sister woke up during a camping trip to a skunk trying to eat her foam pad. She just tucked her head down and stayed quiet until it went away.

She also got into a tug of war with a deer over a bag of tortilla chips, too!

I guess the closest I came was feeding the stingrays in the Caribbean and having one try to take a nibble out of my thigh. I thought it was sorta cool, but I'm strange that way! ;-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

SNAKES?!?! OMGosh, Trish! I am in the same camp as Indiana Jones when it comes to snakes. ACK!!!

But the elk are pretty awesome. Here at Pt. Reyes there is an elk preserve and I've been out there at rutting time too. I never realized how BIG elk are until I went out and saw them. They are easily the size of horses and you can hear that crack from the males striking antlers from a long ways away. Very impressive!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWW! Louisa, I have no problem at all picturing you as the substitute Mama Duck. ;-) How very mature of your childish self to take the ducks to another home with members of their own kind. About a month ago, our local fire dept. had to rescue some ducklings from a storm drain. The real Mama Duck was standing by supervising the entire operation until her babies were safely back at her side.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Deb,
What a GREAT childhood memory! Fourteen people, two station wagons, and a colony of friendly prairie dogs! Looking back, do you wonder how your parents survived it? NO WAY would I do those kind of road trips with a car full of kiddos. ;-)

As for the gulls, you're right, they are NOT small birds. They are easily as large as the GR and most of the ones here in California can be quite aggressive. If you give them so much as a crumb -- WATCH OUT! I shudder to think of a flock of gulls getting hold of TimTams.

AC

jo robertson said...

Slush, what a darling story about your son. Monkey see, monkey do LOL.

jo robertson said...

OMG, Donna, a skunk??!! What a disaster that could've been. Honestly, we have tons of skunks around here and most nights I have to close my window for the smell.

jo robertson said...

Helen, I still laugh about that elephant following you home. And you were so little!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

VA,
I've never heard that chipmunks had suicidal tendencies. Clearly those in NJ have some serious mental health issues! :-P

When the ex and I were first married, we had a cat who LOVED to catch gophers. We lived right next to an open field so the cat never lacked for prey. One night we were awakened by the cat. He was UNDER our bed, playing with an unfortunate gopher! My ex finally had to go put on an oven mitt, grab the gopher and rush outside (yes, in his undies!) with the cat yowling in out-rage right on his heels!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh and VA,
THANX for the first hand experience with tomato juice and skunk spray. I am ROFLOL at the thought of you trying to wash your poor kitty's face and backside with the peroxide mixture!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFL over your "Big Bad Bison stole my campsite" story , BJ!

Last time we were in Yellowstone, a herd of bison crossed the road and stopped a long line of cars. I couldn't BELIEVE the dumb people who jumped out of their cars and ran up to take pictures. HELLO?!?! These are LARGE WILD ANIMALS. Do you really want to scare or anger them?!?! Fortunately, nobody was hurt but they easily could have been.
AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Jo-Mama!
Yes, all of us in the Lair have witnessed the GR's randy ways. :-P I really think it's time to turn him over to P226 or Cassondra for some intense physical training. He's usually quite subdued after that, for a week or two anyway!

Did you mean wild life of the two-legged kind? You wild woman you! ;-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OMGosh, Beth!!!

Your encounter with a bear does NOT sound fun at all! Thank goodness the bear was full of blueberries and decided to go back into the woods instead of try a bit of Wonder Beth for dessert!

AC
who would take an ape over a bear any day

Gannon Carr said...

Aunty, I've been to Gibraltar, so I know all about the apes. Fortunately, I didn't have an encounter quite as "up close and personal" as yours. ;-)

Slush, what a cute story!

When we lived in Italy, we went to this park on the east coast called Zoosafari. You drive your car through all the animals--lions, tigers, bears..oh, my! LOL In that section, you leave your windows up---I rolled mine down a bit to get a better picture---but the rest of the drive, you can roll your windows down and feed the giraffes, zebras and camels. We had a giraffe stick his head in one window to grab a carrot from my daughter...on the opposite side of the car. We still laugh about it.

jennifertanner said...

We know someone who's cat got sprayed by a skunk. The vet had to shave the cat's hair off. Only his head and tail remained unshaven. The skunk "oil" is sticky so it doesn't wash off very well. The cat had to stay indoors for a month.

Anna S...one thing I miss about NJ is the groundhogs. I love look them!

Becke Davis said...

Loved your story!! I've never been to Spain or Gibraltar, but maybe I'll get there one day. My father-in-law was stationed on a mine-sweeper in Gibraltar during WWII, and he's never been very talkative about his time there.

My only close calls with wildlife are nightly on my deck, when the friendly raccoons and possums come to call on my cat. The deer would be there, too, but they don't like the steps up onto the deck. They do leave their old, used antlers all over the yard, though!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

JeanneM,
How cool that your husband was stationed at Gibraltar. It is a really fascinating place and you can easily see Africa. Doesn't even have to be a very clear day! ;-)

Deer can be dangerous, during mating season in particular and they are a lot bigger than a 9 year old child!

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Maureen,
Your poor sister! That is WAAAY too close an encounter with a skunk.

And I'd have been thrilled about those stingrays too, until Steve Irwin was killed by one. :-( I "petted" some at the Monterey Bay Aquarium once and they felt like wet silk.

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey again Jo-Mama,

I know what you mean about too many skunks! I don't live far from the Sacto. river and during the spring I see all kinds of skunks and possums run over on the roadways. Occasionally I'll even see a racoon. So sad...

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Jen,
I didn't know that about skunk spray being oily. And that POOR kitty! Can't imagine how funny it looked with legs and body shaved!

Apparently there are no skunks down under? Our own Fo had her first experience with skunk odor whilst visiting Le Duchess in the DC area. I'll let her describe her reaction... :-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Becke,
Your raccoons and possums are friendly?!?! They certainly aren't around here! My BFF took her kids camping on the NorCal coast when the kids were young teens. During the night, raccoons got into their ice chest and had a screeching, hissing FIGHT over the raw bacon. She and the kids were so scared they wound up sleeping in the car. Ever since I have teased her son about "killer raccoons!" ;-)

And how funny about the shed deer antlers. Have you seen the huge arches in Jackson Hole made of deer and elk antlers?

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Gannon,
They have a similar drive-through wild life park in Roseburg, Oregon, and I loved it when we went there. They didn't have giraffes, however. But the ones I've seen in the zoo have these unbelievably long tongues! Was your daughter scared when the giraffe (tongue and all) got up close and personal with her?!?! I think I might have been!

AC

Gannon Carr said...

Was your daughter scared when the giraffe (tongue and all) got up close and personal with her?!?

Not at all, AC, but our friends' daughter was in the car, too, and she kept screaming while the giraffe was reaching for the carrot. And I kept saying, "Just give it the carrot and it will leave!" I couldn't stop laughing. Those giraffe tongues are crazy long.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Glad your daughter took it in stride, Gannon. Sounds like her friend was a drama queen. ;-)

AC

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Aunty, hope you have recovered
fully from your ape adventure! Can't
recall any such exciting encounters!
My adventures have been of the insect
variety. As a child, my foot fell
through a weak bridge into a black
widow nest & was stuck there until I
could be dug out. As a college fresh-
man on a visit home with a roommate,
I encountered a scorpion under my
pillow. That was the most painful
bite I ever suffered! And we couldn't
go to bed until we located it and its
partner! For the recent years, I have
only 3 words, Texas fire ants!

Pat Cochran