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September 10th, 2002

La Roque, Spain

Another pre-dawn rise was in order. It seemed like ages since I had woken to sunlight. Packing up the sleeping bag and mat in the darkness was a bit of an ordeal. Neil had cleared out of the tent in less than half of the time I took. On the drive south, I asked him what his country count was; his 63 dwarfed my 21. His goal was to join the century club before he turned forty.

The group had voted to stop for a few hours in Granada, provided we could get tickets to the Alhambra. I had warned everyone that that was unlikely, and sure enough the ticket line when we arrived was immense. Our backup plan was to continue south to Gibraltar and spend the evening there. The closest campsite was in La Roque, a few miles outside of "The Rock". We set up the tents, then called for a fleet of taxis.

As luck would have it, September 10th happens to be National Day on Gibraltar. The small British enclave had been fighting their possible transfer to Spanish sovereignty, a fate that the majority British locals took none too lightly. Everyone was dressed in red and white, street cafes were packed, and the Union Jack hung from most windows. In the main square a large wooden stage was adorned with a red and white banner that displayed the rather Orwellian phase, "Self-Determination Is Democracy".

Our group eventually spilintered into several smaller ones, as some wanted to explore the small town, some had last minute shopping to do, and some wanted to seek out the nearest pub. I joined the latter group, and after a few pitchers of beer and ample silliness, we headed to the docks to watch the sunset. As it was our last night in Europe -- for at least six months for some of us -- the suggestion that we have a nice meal by the waterside was met enthusiastically. The food was good, and the bill was made more palatable by the waiter bringing us several free bottles of wine and a free round of desserts. Some of us speculated that it was in honor of National Day, others (quietly) speculated that Teri, the most eager for a splurge, had pulled the waiter aside beforehand. Either way, no one complained. The meal was capped by a late night fireworks display, for which we had the best seats in the house.

The Rock
National Day in Gibraltar
Us at the pub
Teri checks the bill
Milu and Camille

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Copyright © 2002-2010 Brian Riggs All rights reserved.
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