Location: Gibraltar

It was absolutely glorious waking up in Gibraltar this morning. Joel was the galley troll this morning and blessed the crew with double chocolate chip pancakes/ crepes (depends on what you grabbed); it was especially generous of him to throw in a surprise black bean pancake in the mix. Skyler said it was better than the real pancakes.

Swiftly after breakfast, we embarked on our journey to climb the rock of Gibraltar. Let me tell you that it was much bigger than just a rock. We walked through town, gaining lots of elevation, crossing many streets, constantly screaming to Riley, “Riley, I’m tired!!! Are we there yet!? Riley, can you carry me?” “RILEYYY. ” He seemed thrilled to listen to this for our thirty-minute walk to the trailhead, where he punctually split off from the group to do his hike (which was actually a trail run) away from us all. Out of breath and sweaty, not even having started the real hike to the top, some of us boys took our shirts off to cool down. Right after this, a tour guide drove by with the window down and screamed out to us, “It’s winter! Put your shirts on!” It most definitely did not feel like winter today.

Approximately three minutes into our walk to the top, we had our first of many encounters with the monkeys. I think most of us had the impression that these furry fellas were super chill, as this guy was just hanging out laying down and picking at his fleas, paying no mind to the fifteen of us surrounding him, taking pictures, trying to communicate, and trying to give him Pinky. We trekked on up the path to the sky bridge, which was very cool. I don’t know whether they’re all exhausted from harassing tourists or just love taking naps like all of us, but almost every monkey we saw was lying down catching zzz’s. Monkeys asleep on the bridge, old WWII cannons, in trees, absolutely everywhere. I think our impression of the monkeys changed when a baby monkey started hissing/yelling at us and many others ran over to join. We fled the area quickly.

This monkey business was far from over after this. The staircase to the top fits only one person across (or two monkeys). Only like twenty steps from the top, we were stopped by three or four monkeys just hanging out in the way. Many of us got off easy, except for a lucky few. Jimmy’s ankle was grabbed, and Amelia’s speaker was stolen and kindly returned. Mia was attacked and grabbed as she tried to step over them, and could not seem to shake them off till she flipped the monkey off, in which he promptly stopped terrorizing her. Only a few more monkey stories, I promise. Zoe was bitten twice, but don’t worry; the monkeys are pro-vax, so she will not be dying of rabies. Jack was on round three of ice cream after the first two were stolen, and you bet this one was a lost cause too. Skyler’s lunch box was stolen out of his backpack in the 10-second window it was open. This thing ravaged through the plastic bag it was wrapped in and ripped open the box. Once the box was open, the monkey ran away from other interested monkeys, spilling corn and guacamole everywhere, letting out the loudest, most obnoxious screech ever.

Enough with the monkeys. Once at the top of the rock, we saw gorgeous views of the sea, Gibraltar, Spain, and Africa, and we even saw Pinky’s long-lost sister. There were old bunkers and caves, which had a theatre with cool lights inside. We also saw the same tour guide from earlier who yelled at us again, “It’s winter!!!” I promise you all; it is not. The boys and I had a wonderful meal in this glass restaurant with 360 views of the top of the rock. We ordered six cokes and six cheeseburgers; I don’t think they knew we were American tourists. We took the gondola back down into Gibraltar and headed back to the boat. With an hour and a half of free time before lunch, this called for nap time. So if you want to know what happened on Vela between the hours of 2:30-4:00, don’t ask me.

At 4:00, we had oceanography class where we learned about how whales can booty call each other from all the way across the ocean, and some other things about light, depth, salinity, temperature, and some other cool oceany stuff. Lucky to us, this class only took about 30 minutes. We again had an hour or so of free time. Some took this time to catch up on sleep, call their loved ones, or, as Jimmy and I did, have a shore shower. You do not understand how blessed we feel to be able to shower with two hands and hot water and not have to drain the head every thirty seconds.

After the shower session, Jimmy, Skyler, Max, Owen, and I were sitting on the dock enjoying ourselves, observing the mega-yacht that was taken from some sketchy Russian dude. Not sure what he did. Sick yacht, though. It even has a swimming pool on the stern with a huge window as one of the walls. Then Allie and Matt, our #idols, walked by and offered encouraging and uplifting life advice to us five wayward youths that would forever alter the course of our lives. What transpired can never be totally captured in words or even on the physical plane but can be summarized loosely with “Sup Dweebs.” We returned home to Vela and were greeted with some delicious ribs made by Joel, the galley troll himself, and a special Carolina-style barbecue sauce made by Rylie. Absolutely delicious, especially with our new variety of hot sauces brought back by Carolyn after provisioning. One of our new sauces was Carolina reaper. Let me say that many of us broke into a sweat trying this. To top it off, Anna and Lizard both dared to have a spoonful of it; many tears were shed.

For the squeeze, I asked the group, “If you could have any job and be paid in anything but real currency, what would you do, and what would you be paid in?” For those wondering, in the winter, I would be a backcountry ski guide, and in the summer, I would test mountain bikes, and I would like to be paid in massages. Turns out Max and Anna also want to be paid in massages, Ash in barrels of rum, and Joel in mojitos. Probably not the best idea for him… Some said secrets. Others said food, memories, gold, diamonds, potatoes, plants, play tickets, etc. Turns out many of us would like to travel for a living. This was surprising to hear.

It is now after dinner, clean up is done, and provisions from the big haul today are being put away. Some of the dudes and Matt are beating calcified poop out of a hose on the dock at the moment. I am being serenaded by some lovely music, gags, laughter, and, I think, some tears from Max. Couldn’t ask for a better way to end the night. Overall, absolutely stellar day full of monkeys, laughter, good food, good people, and good times.

Sending love to all my friends and family back home, love and miss you all so much!

See you next time