By Claire Spencer
The journey was completed in just two days of solid driving in an American RV with coffee and rest breaks, stopping in a hotel in Miranda de Ebro in Northern Spain overnight with fabulous views of the river from the balcony.
The journey wouldn’t have been an adventure had there not been incidents; one of the rear four wheels went flat causing the van to vibrate. In an effort to put air in the tyre the valve blew out, and with no neumaticos open, we completed the journey the very same day, with the words to “Three Wheels On My Wagon” going through my sleep deprived mind until the reassuring view of The Rock hove into view as we approached San Roque in the dead of night.
Everything in Gibraltar was pretty much as I’d left it back in August; I could still have a drink in the bars, though La Linea called me seductively from over the runway with promises of café y churros and beers with friends in the bars of the Boulevard that I’d not seen since I’d last flown away back to Blighty.
I’d found a delightful billet through Airbnb in a room in a historic house on Prince Edward’s Road, where, upon entering a hidden world behind a seemingly ordinary doorway, I was rewarded with breathtaking views across the town and straits. Relaxing on the roof terrace of an evening, with the lights of Morocco twinkling across a glassy sea like a thousand stars, I was also afforded a once in a lifetime view of the widely publicised close conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.
I was curious as to the fortunes of The Two Steves aka ‘The Night Watchmen.’ These were two musicians I’d written about in my last visit who’d entertained us all in those sultry summer evenings at The Cabana beach bar in Camp Bay. I subsequently met up with one half of the duo soon after my arrival, Staffordshire Steve, real name Steve James, who told me that Scottish Steve had left Gibraltar shortly after I’d written my review of their gigs for The Gibraltar Magazine in July. Steve informed me that he was still playing his music where and when he could in view of the current restrictions, and gave me his card which proudly announced that he was available for live performances and functions.
Of course, there was no live music in Gibraltar; this had been stopped completely some weeks previously, though some well-known faces on the Rock were streaming live performances, with The Musicians Association of Gibraltar among others promoting these on social media sites.
With no music to write about, and with the weather still being pleasantly warm, I indulged myself in the delights of the Upper Rock and ‘El Jungle’, also managing a stroll on the Playa de Levante in La Linea, with its exhilarating views of the planes seemingly leaping for the clouds as they took off from Gibraltar airport
Shortly afterwards, in light of the rapidly rising Covid cases on the Rock, The Chief Minister introduced more stringent restrictions, and at this point I realised that my visit was going to be short lived this time round.
On Christmas Day I wandered over to Camp Bay to watch the sun set across the bay, and gazed reminiscently at the skeletal remains of the Cabana Bar as if in hibernation until the first summer rays inevitably wake it from its slumbers.
Sadly, further restrictions were announced straight after Christmas including a 10pm curfew, and soon afterwards it was with much soul searching and a very heavy heart that I found myself sitting with a friend on a wall outside the airport in the warm winter sunshine before checking into my flight to Heathrow.
I was to have a grandstand view of the Rock from my seat as we jetted off into the clear blue yonder as the sun was setting, but the heavens offered solace to my parting with the sight of a rare celestial phenomenon known as the green flash as the sun lowered its tired head below the horizon.
Claire has donated her fee for this article to Charles Trico’s appeal to help disadvantaged children in Morocco.