“Help Me Ronda” and Monkey Poop

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The day after my “experience” with the bullfight, we picked up the rental car from Styxx and headed out of the city of Seville towards the countryside. The drive was filled with lush green hills, rock cliffs, and white washed villages cropping up out of nowhere. The occasional medieval fortress popped up, too.

Jordan dozed and I took the opportunity to write quietly looking up from time to time at the scenery.

Finding our apartment in Ronda was hysterically stressful. We ended up driving too far into the town’s castle walls and could barely get back out with our mini-van between two enormous pillars. A local man, probably my age, guided Christopher telling him “Picco Picco!” which meant to only turn the wheel a very little bit to guide our way through (and this was after collapsing the side mirrors to make the car smaller).

Not long after, Christopher doubled back as he and Kelly said some other walled area had to be where we should go but having learned our lesson from up above, my son parked in an area outside the city walls and we walked in. The apartment we found would be our new home. (How did people ever find anything without GPS devices?)

Although the weather was damp, our too-few days in Ronda were a delight. Jordan went to a playground across the road to play with other young girls some in their school uniforms, and with all of us trying to communicate in our respective languages telling one another our names and ages and making ourselves giggle trying to repeat them.

Behind our old city walls, a man had just opened a new restaurant in “our town” and we all became quite friendly having dinner there two nights in a row. He was generous, spoke English (lived in San Diego for a couple of years studying culinary, and was a great chef. I think he’ll do well there.

Christopher and Kelly dropped Jordan and I off in town on our second day so they could explore some caves in an area not far from Ronda . Just so happened there was a medieval fair in town which Jordan and I visited and she was the first customer on the little bicycle leg powered ferris wheel, such a contrast in size from the one we all rode in Seville, and she had a pony ride which she loved.

Soon after, her whining about the wet and cold meant finding a restaurant pronto for lunch and to dry off. Jordan wanted spaghetti which was pictured on the menu. After an exhaustingly long wait showing her the art of preparing a cup of tea, the large plate arrived, which we shared. She hated the sauce. I agree, it wasn’t the best, but please, just eat it. Although she ate very little, we shared a chocolate treat, and had warmed up for our walk home.

We walked to the overlook of the Ronda gorge, which was amazing. Jordan and a baby girl (just learning to walk) from Germany befriended one another giggling and chasing each other around the railed landing while causing me more heart palpitations as I needlessly worried she would slip and go flying off the edge.

We stopped in a souvenir shop along the way where the young Spanish woman working behind the counter thought my dear little overly energetic bull-in-a-china-shop granddaughter had such a cute voice she insisted in mimicking her ad nauseum. Then she tried selling us everything we already had explained ewe had, such as the Feria dress, fan, shawl. The highlight was when she showed us the castanets saying she taught classes in their use. She demonstrated and had us mesmerized for a few minutes until the added anxiety of Jordan breaking something got me to hurry up buying us each a little snow globe (hers had a flamenco dancer and mine the cliffs of Ronda), and a fridge magnet (which is one of my collectibles on every trip to new places).

Soon after we were descending the hill, where Jordan made mad dashes, giving my heart to skip beats, to either the sides of cliffs or the small cobblestoned roads intersecting at every turn, a weird exotic hunter museum appeared, which, when I peeked in, had the heads of trophy animals stuck sadly on the walls of this centuries old building. How very weird. Why in the world would anyone have this kind of a museum in such a beautiful old Spanish hill town? I’ll have to Google that one of these days.

We found the back entrance to our walled city (I made a lucky guess on that pathway) where there was a church with a memorial to St. Francis (“San Francisco”) in a glass caged nook outside. The church bells from here are what we heard in our apartment.

It always gives me a wonderful sense of relief, after any of the excursions Jordan and I take on our own, to turn the old key in the apartment door keyhole knowing she was safe and unscathed by the adventure.

The next day, reluctantly for all of us, we left Ronda behind.

A couple of hours later, after driving and walking in the deluge of rain, we finally found parking in the old decidedly British section of Gibraltar for lunch at the recommended “The Clipper” restaurant. (Both Rick Steves and Lonely Planet recommended the place.) For some reason, finding this section of the real town of Gibraltar (“Gib”) was such a hassle but the lunch of fish ‘n chips was fabulous as the fish was trout sized. Jordan was happy to be out of the car and the Clipper provided colored pencils and a drawing menu for her boring her within seconds until her dad diverted his full attention to coloring with her. Taming a restless 3 3/4 year old is getting more difficult by the day.

Refreshed, we were off to “The Rock.” The little cable car up the mountain crams in a full load of tourists for every dime they can get. It had stopped raining by now as they smartly don’t operate the car during inclement weather (suddenly heard myself talking as if in my former position of college administrator sending out instructions to faculty, staff and students on how to find out if the school has to close because of ‘inclement’ weather.).

After landing safely on The Rock and walking out onto The Terrace, Monkey No. 1 was spotted.

Jordan, the brave girl that she is, used her mom and dad’s camera to take a photo of the wild little beast. Soon after they wandered off, I was “followed” by this creature to a quiet balcony area with a great view. I swear he was watching my every move for the rustle of a junk food package (which I didn’t have). I took a couple of photos of him and then when he saw I wasn’t going to come up with any bounty, he wandered back to the terrace. It was then that I heard a terrifying scream and went to see what was up. Sure enough, there was a young woman who had carried in a plastic bag (even though there are a multitude of signs saying “NO PLASTIC BAGS!”) and Monkey No. 1 was shredding it to pieces off her arm and taking off to a quiet corner to chomp down on the candy bar she had in the bag. (I’m embarrassed to say she was American.) Her comment, when reminded of the signs, was “But I didn’t think they’d come over HERE!!” Ummm…WTH did she think “here” would be?

During the 2 hours we spent wandering around the rock, I saw another kid (young man, this time, nationality unknown) get accosted, and by that time, it was Monkey No. 720 (they were rapidly multiplying). Now another gaggle of young people were screaming from one very aggressive monkey which raised enough of my concern to call over the seemingly bored looking Red Coats (my term, not theirs) who were there to protect the humans from the owners of this rock (obviously the monkeys). The Red Coat boy grabbed a broom handle and went running when I pantomimed the “attack.” It wasn’t as serious as it could have been but I thought it gave these bored young men a good sample of what their call to action looked like which they obviously needed for their seemingly run-of-the-mill workday. Not so lucky to have excitement end there, just after the attacks, I saw an ambulance arrive for what turned out to be a woman who slipped on the stairs (rain water or monkey poop?) hurting her back, then there was a man who fell on the road up, or down, hurting his leg and another ambulance was waiting down below, as we later saw after the cable car ride down the hill.

During all the time we were up on The Rock the critters were swinging from tree branches, roofs, banisters, cars, half walls, and each other. Babies, adolescents, mid-lifers, and the elderly alike, all having a great time with the dumb tourists who bring them junk food because heaven forbid we go without for an hour or two.

We left town satisfied by the short experience in Gibraltar and headed for the kitesurfing capital of the world: Tarifa.

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