It was another case of small distance geographically, big difference culturaly and, as something of a surprise, meteologically. It is just that the weather had been fantastic right up until the time I crossed the border when, suddenly, on the British side, it clouded over and got a bit blowy. Driving is more aggressive on the Gib side too and the attitude of the people is somehow more reserved.
One surpise which greeted me early on was there are a people there - the Gibraltans - who are basically ethnically Spanish and who speak Spanish but who are fairly robustly happy with their British nationality. They can at, a moment´s notice, stop sounding Andalucian and provide you with the English of a fluent native speaker from the London area. I spend quite a lot of time listening to people´s English and thought the first person I met must have spent quite a long time in the UK. Later though, as the amount of Gibraltans who did this to me piled up I realised that it just seems to be the dialect they have acquired in the territory. The other thing is, they seem to have slightly different features from the mainland Spanish: eyes a little closer together and smaller; intense.
Of course there are plenty of ex-pat Brits there too and no doubt they are considered within the range of the territory´s typical constituent population but in one sense they appear not to be the ethnic Gibraltans. These must be those who since 1704 have mainly chosen to maintain their language, customs and appearance alongside the British political and cultural presence. Something of this presence, though, has been absorbed by the native people who now seem something of a genitically modified people people posessing DNA from both sides.
The rock itself is quite interesting although some of it sort of fenced off by the M.O.D. It is tempting to imagine some sort of neo-Manhattan project being hatched somewhere in the middle of rock - a belated attempt to propel Britain back to its true status as the world power. There are plenty of birds flying around at the top indicating all the best views to the sightseers, pointing wing tips down to Algercias and La Linea on one side and back up the South-Eastern side of the Peninsula on the other. Old gun placements, pill-boxes and back garden style bomb-proof shelters abound. The monkeys don´t seem quite so involved, sadly, preferring their own counsul to interracting the humans.
Once I´d been to the gardens for a rest and a meal (tuna, red quinoa and salad) I headed up to hospital hill to meet the friends of Bill W, then it was back to the border for a last chance bus ride back to Tarifa. As much as I do like to plan these days, it was good fun not knowing whether there would be a bus or not. Lively; jaunty.
Back here in Tariffa things are pretty relaxed. It is good friday and I have been on the beach wondering what to do with my life. The sun struggled to appear earlier as the kite surfers got their sails into the wind. Gradually as the clouds disolved, the warm currents of the sun gave a little thermal boost to my thoughts and sense of well-being.
I get the impression, perhaps not entirely from own best thinking, that to serve - before I return to my home planet). The problem is, I don´t really want to do it, until I am doing that is. It´s a bit like doing homework in that respect. It is interesting to note here that, in terms of observing one´s nature, there is no end to the demands I will place on life to provide me a Faustian never-ending increase in the level of stimulation and reward I recieve. There is a part of me that wants it all for me and doesn´t want to share any of it with you. This is the part of the self that can get you isolated with a mind like hell, raging with a case a with case of perpetual war - if it is not treated. Apparently, it gets treated with service. On good Friday then, the thought struck me that if I think I am going to do any better than the concept and the practice of service I should remember that service is even fundamental to the nature of the One who died on this day. And if it was good enough for him, it´s good enough for me.