Hospital parking lot…choose your own adventure.

Had to visit a doctor this morning.  Had an appointment at the private hospital…this is the rogue parking lot.   There is a paid parking lot, but that seems to be empty.  Everyone parks along the road.  People invented a crazy random lot.  Triple parked, blocking houses…when in Rome.

There is no  direction that one cannot drive…people drive on whatever side they choose.  Good thing it is right beside the hospital.  Witnessed two accidents while parking.  If you have a car in Portugal it most definitely has a few kisses on it from various automotive adventures.

London anti-Trump rally

Took the kids to see Big Ben and we stumbled upon an anti-Trump rally.  It was a peaceful gathering with a few hundred people with signs and chanting about inclusion.  Both of my girls were transfixed with the signs….especially this one…


The American lady who made it gave it to them to hold.  Maggie loves anything with his orange face.

We wandered around and enjoyed the sites while taking in the very British…meaning very polite protest.

I hate squirrels…what was I thinking going to see wild apes.


I really wanted to take the girls to see the Rock of Gibraltar. I knew that there were wild apes living on the rock and I thought the girls would think that was cool. What I forgot to remember was that I am scared of even squirrels.  I mean really scared of squirrels and chipmunks too .  I am afraid of most wild animals and in that category I also include cats.  Too unpredictable for me.

Several years ago on a visit to Washington, DC, I took my kids to see the White House. Apparently, tourists feed the squirrels that live on the White House lawn. The squirrels have therefore become accustomed to people and are prone to jumping on them looking for food.  One squirrel must have sensed my fear and jumped on my purse.   Like any good parent, I threw my purse on the ground and ran away screaming, while leaving my children alone to deal with the squirrel.   I also proceeded to yell at the Secret Service officers to get the squirrel off my bag. Apparently this is not their priority.  Who knew?

I am telling you about my White House fiasco to set up what a bad idea it was to go to Gibraltar.  Visiting the town was fine.  A little slice of the U.K. by walking across the border from Spain.  We had fish and chips for lunch.  We went to Marks and Spencer.  We ate Flake bars…all good, so far.

We bought tickets to take the sky tram to the top of the rock.  In the ticket line, there are signs warning of the wild apes on the rock.  They recommend hiding any plastic bags and food away because they attract the apes and they might take your bag away to get to the food.  This didn’t sit well with me, as you might imagine.  There were also pictures of the apes bearing their teeth.  The sign said something about them being wild animals and to not approach them.  Got it.  Message received.  I made sure I had no food in my purse and then to be safe, I gave my purse to my priest to carry.  Why risk it?  God will protect him, right?

My daughters know my fears.  Pippa tried to reassure me in the line up for the sky tram that all would be fine.  When we entered the tram, I  asked the attendant when the last time an ape  bit a person. He said yesterday.   He then told me not to worry, because they don’t bite children. He said they bite adults. Great,  but subconsciously a plan had come together. If the children protected me, I would be safe from the apes.   Mother of the year.

We started out touring the top of the rock.  Looking at the views to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar.  Pictures were taken.  People were smiling.

Then my beloved children asked to walk the monkey trail.    If we walked for about 10 minutes down this trail we could catch the tram at the midway point and take it the rest of the way down.  I agreed because I love them and I had planned on sacrificing them anyway.  The monkeys  (they are actually called Macaques apes, but people tend to call them both) are swinging from trees, walking along the paths and sitting on ledges.  I was frozen.  Too scared to move.  I let the girls and the priest get close enough for me to take pictures.

The pictures are blurry because I was shaking so much.  My knees starting to give way.

No amount of rational thought or smooth talking by my priest could convince me that this was safe.  The apes could smell my fear, just like those damn squirrels, and they seemed to approach me at dizzying speeds.  I hid behind Pippa.  She might be small, but she is pretty mighty.

My priest misread the map and we were stuck wandering longer than I wanted.  The kids saw a sign that said “Apes Den.”  Never.  Ever.  Eventually, I remembered that the guide on the tram said there were stairs that took you right to the midway tram.  I mumbled stairs to my priest and he found them.  Then I saw the sign….

You are kidding me right?  There were literally hundreds of stairs with these apes everywhere. I began crying….softly at first, then sobbing.  I thought I could just jump.  However, there was no where to jump to.  We were on a mountain.  Apes were covering the hills.  I put my priest out front.  Kids behind me.  I was dying.  My knees were shaking so much I could hardly walk.  The apes seemed to be laughing.  Truly.

My kids enjoyed my anxiety.  Mom is a freak.  Great.  Every step I took was taking me closer to death.  I could feel it.  I told my priest to make loud noises to distract the apes.  That didn’t work.  The apes were everywhere.  Their poop was everywhere.   The next 10 minutes were the longest in my life.  I won’t go on in detail, but it was ugly.  We made it to the bottom.  Nothing ate us, nothing attacked us until…

There was one ape that was scary nasty looking (no pictures taken…fear).  He was limping and missing fur.  He looked like he had been in a few scrapes.  He liked me.  He starting following me.  I screamed and threw the priest in his path.  I ran to the tram.  I made it.  Alive.  I will not be back to Gibraltar.  I dodged a bullet once.  Who knows if there was a next time.   🇬🇮

Spain not Mexico….definitely not Epcot.

Quick trip to Marbella…long drive.  GPS claimed it was six and a half hours, but it took us much longer.  Our car is a little bit like a Flintstone car.  Barely makes it up a hill.  We hit a few hills, hence our slow down.  Plus, my priest ignored the GPS  and decided to follow the sign for Spain taking us a few hours out of our way.  It was pretty, but with two kids and two dogs in the car, not entirely appreciated.

We are staying at the Marriott Marbella Beach Club.  Gorgeous hotel right on the Mediterranean.  The beach isn’t spectacular, but the resort is stunning.  Maggie said she prefers her oceans more blue.  Spoiled by the too many Greek beaches with crystal waters.

We are about a 15 minute drive from old town Marbella.  Pretty sweet little town.  I found an awesome Italian pizzeria…my priest loves to eat and despite this thin appearance, he can really put it back.  Full of food, we hit the streets to explore.  Wandering around, there were lots of beautiful things to take a look at. Flowers in pots hanging on whitewashed walls.  Cafés and cute shops lining the narrows streets.  Maggie said it looked like Greece, but not as pretty.  Jaded already at 11 years old.  She wanted it to be more like Mexico from the Epcot exhibit.  People in traditional outfits, dancing in the streets.   I reminded her multiple times that we were in Spain, not Mexico.  Lord, give me strength.

When I was 18, I backpacked Europe with a friend.  We stopped at this cool hostel in Interlacken, Switzerland.  I remember talking to a bunch of college girls from the US and they kept saying that the Disney version of Europe wa better.  It was cleaner, everyone spoke English and you didn’t have to travel as far.  If Maggie mentions Epcot again…I may have to leave her behind.  😉


Things I don’t understand about Portugal

These things are in no particular order and some I won’t even bother to explain.  This list may continue to grow….

1. In the grocery store, milk is found in the aisles. It is not refrigerated.

2. Same thing for eggs.

3. There are rows and rows of jarred hot dogs in every supermarket. Some big, some little all preserved in glass jars with some liquid in it.

4. There is no real word for your welcome…just “de nada.” Which means literally “nothing.”

5. People with big dogs never pick up their dog’s poo. Never. This tends to happen everywhere in the world.

6. I tend to always step in said dog poo. Always. Must learn to stare at sidewalk.

7. They have beautiful wide sidewalks that are spectacularly tiled and they park all over them. They seem to prefer sidewalks to actual parking spaces.

8.  They love salted codfish.  I mean, really love it.  It was the main dish at Christmas.

9.  They place smelly codfish, ballachau, next to nice smelling bakery section.  Nice smelling bakery section is overwhelmed with smelly codfish.  I try not to inhale while purchasing bread.  I get light headed quickly.

10.  It isn’t the dark ages.  They could actually sell fresh cod and not have to sell salted codfish.    They have to soak the fish for days to be able to eat it.  They have to change the water frequently.  Again, fresh codfish is an option people.

11.  They still hate running shorts in the winter.  I still wear them because I still run.

12.  It blows their mind when my priest, when in his collar, holds my hand in public.  I think they think he is a scandalous Roman Catholic priest.  This is fun.

13.  I do not like egg custard tarts.  They eat egg custard tarts like I drink water.  They are at every party, every coffee shop, every house I visit.  I try them occasionally, just in case I am wrong…I am not.

More lists to follow soon….