Trip to Gibraltar

Trip to Gibraltar


Trip to Gibraltar

We are a small group composed as follows: Romano, Mimma his wife, I his sister, coming from Velletri to participate in the trip, and three and a half dogs. The vehicle stands for the puppy Paloma, who, being small, must be cared for and cannot be left at home with the rest of the Chihuahua's "wild horde".

Paloma therefore travels with her mother Tequila and the two vips of the situation: Pepito and Bonita, in whose honor this trip from Siena to Gibraltar was organized, transforming us three humans of "a certain age" into reckless and fearless camperos.




Pepito known as Pepi

Three indefatigable, determined and adventurous travelers, stunned by pride in their successes or withered by disappointment over the failures of their Chihuahuas, unhappy with their detachments, moved by abandonments, bewitched by the lights, colors, scents, warmth of the lands they pass through or languid from memories, the many memories of distant moments, which sudden atmospheres make poignant flourish in the heart.

Tuesday 27 August 2002 at 9.15 am the adventure begins with departure from Siena for Gibraltar

: quiet journey, stop in Savona, shower (downpour) near S. Tropez.

The dogs' sanitary walks see Paloma on a leash for the first time, recalcitrant and runaway by the new "bond", but always tender and innocent, Pepi, the pack leader, balanced and wise as always, Tequila and Bonita resigned, but anxious.

Again shower in Aix-en-Provence, lost in that of Marseille, forced tourist tour, but worthy and then straight to Martigue.

After traveling 787, we arrive at around 8 pm in Port de Bouc (Golf de Fos), where we spend the night after having drowned fatigue and stress as good Italians in a steaming bowl of spaghetti with sauce.

Wednesday 29

we pass through Arles and cross the Rhône and the petit Rhône.

In the middle of the afternoon, the catchphrase ends: refueling with gas and emptying the cesspool in an equipped service area to Mimma's delight ... Eureka! Clean, fragrant and "gassed" to the conquest of Spain.

First overnight stay in Spain at the Francas campsite, headquartered very close to the beach, where the liberating carousels of the Perros squadron will take place at night and in the morning.

On the seashore Tequila melts into cries of joy, the cachorra is a bit forbidden at its first contact with the sand, Bonita is a little upset (read angry black) with Tequila and as soon as it reaches her he tells her the fact his, that is, he bites her. Pepito, as a serious, balanced and reliable person as he is, supervises various situations and imposes himself with his calm, but determined, authority.

I fluttered in a white silk robe and nightgown on the beach and in the midst of tents, caravans, clothes hanging and plastic bags waving in the wind, feeling a bit (a lot) stupid. But the "pipipopi" of the dogs were urgent, even if, in the end, they did not give me all that great satisfaction, that the pieces of paper towels and the bags for dog excrement, with which Mimma had filled my hands, could have induce to expect. In fact, I returned all the material intact.

Mimma, for a change, tidied up and cleaned the camper, directing the operations, Romano made small inspections in search of water and bidones de basura (rubbish bins). Both of us (he and I) obeyed orders: without complaining, with some attempt at insubordination, he was immediately sedated.

All three, with eyes full of the blue of the sea and the hot light of the sol español, we resume el viaje.

Sent stages of approach to Gibraltar, on the third day, leaving Cataloña, we enter en la

Murcia - Région de Medio Ambiente

, famous for the cria de los toros negros.

It will be for the black bulls (which we have not seen), it will be for the blond cows (which we have seen numerous), it will be for the smell of manure that hovers gently in the air, but to me this Région de la España me parece una Région de Cambronne!

Immersed in Andalusia we quickly reach the English border of Gibraltar. When asked by the Police si tenemos cachorros, all of us, proud (and stupid) contestamos que si, nosotros tenemos una cachorriña muy bonita, blanca y negra: ahì està!

Ah, ahì està…. bueno vosotros no podéis pasar la frontera: la ley is law, sorry! Great desesperaciòn!

Mimma remains hostage on the border with the camper, the cachorra and the three dogs, Romano and I go on a mission to seek help. Look for that looking for you, we set up a high-risk operation with one of the exhibition staff: like coca smuggling.

We pretend, sly and innocent, to return to Spain with the package of coca (read cachorra), saying that we have found who to leave the "package" for the weekend.

The border guards, who by now had reported us as subversives, and perhaps pushers, help us with smiling benevolence to make the U-turn and get back to where we came from.

Instead, we, devious and hypocrites, but with proven theatrical experience, take up positions in the nearby Mac Donald's parking lot ("¿Para comer o beber?" Contests el guardian. "¡No, solo para esperar un señor!" "¡Entonces no es posible aparcarse! "" ¡... entonces nosotros comemos y bebemos! "). Ugh !!!! In reality we are stationed waiting for a certain señor / mister X.

El señor / mister X is arriving by car from a nearby town, with other people heading to the Mostra de los perros. As he arrives, we deliver the package of coke (read cachorra / puppy), he passes it stealthily to a friend, the friend casually puts it under a blanket and they scurry towards Gibraltar, with the cocaine package shaking like a leaf.

Finally comemos y bebemos to please the guardian. We must let half an hour pass so as not to make it too dirty, but our corazòn palpitates together with the package of cocaine left in foreign hands. When we receive the release call that the package has reached its destination and is fine, we rush into the camper, we return to the border, innocent and cleansed, with big policia smiles (always the same).

And we finally reach the exhibition area: the parcel of coca, pecheño and palpitating, is always waiting for us wrapped in its cover, inside a box. ¡Que sustol. All the smuggling action was concocted hablando en Español y Inglés. How strong! Exhausted from the adventure, we allow ourselves the right rest of the tired heroes, hugging our dogs.

The next day, a morning of glory for Bonita: here we are, this morning we are all depopulated with the mejora chihuahua hembra de la Italia. Empezamos with Pepito. Great happiness: Pepito es el mejor macho y sera el mejor de su raza. Happiness for the first victory goes to our heads. A Mimma takes on a kind of delirious effervescence: he improvises judge de todos los cachorros cerca de nosotros. She measures heads, checks backs, evaluates postures, makes judgments that I, in her opinion, should translate with the utmost precision, en Español. I'm on the verge of hysterics, dismay grips my throat; then when I manage to stammer some word, which miraculously emerges from the total darkness in which my mind had sunk, the Spaniards have already understood everything, thanks to Mimma's eloquent gestures. Romano is as if overwhelmed by the situation: we take care of everything except the race ... in the meantime it goes on on its own!

When the secretary of the ring almost tugs Mimma to present himself up to the judicio del mejor de raza, we all wake up as if from a spell. «... ..Mi hembra, my bitch, my bitch Bonita ...!». "Lo siento mucho, señora - sorry, madame, nosotros hemos ya llamado su number, pero ninguno contestado".

"La señora estaba un poqhito distracts." The judge: «Sorry, madame, your bitch was excellent. What a pityl ". ¡Que lastima!

General annihilation that preludes a thunderous burst of tears (which we manage with fortitude to control): Pepito also wins el mejor de raza, but the disappointment for Bonita is burning, almost inconsolable.

¡Hoy vencimos! Today we win! The day after Sunday 1st September we are ready for the new fight: Bonita in great shape and Pepito too, we are serious, composed… and concentrated!

But the judge has changed, this time it is a lady, who prefers to the graces of Bonita, those of a female from a local breeding and to the vigor of Pepito, that of a male always from the same breeding.

They fought with honor, but without hope, and they were given a glorious second place.

We chew bitter, very bitter and we dispose of the disappointment by fraternizing with the macaques of the Rocca, who, fortunately, do not participate in any Dog Show, but firmly maintain the primacy, the Primates, of the possession of the Rocca.

Los monos / the apes are incredible: they allow humans to mix with them, but it is as if they do not see them, they live the life for which they were designed, regardless of the evolved primates who pay to see them, forget or unaware that they are watching, as in a reverse projection, the beginning of one's own evolutionary history.

At close range, I exchanged a melancholy brotherly glance with one of them.

The next day, Monday 2 September, we leave at 9: six days of pure tourism await us without competitions, anxieties, bitterness… .or distractions.

We leave Gibraltar to join Rhonda

through a secondary road, which takes us towards glorious mountains, with massive vertically cut rock ridges, which plunge sheer down towards a stream. In ancient times they were one with the high peaks of the mountains of neighboring Morocco, so much so that Rhonda retains part of the same vegetation as Morocco.

It is a pretty town with its good Plaza de Toros, the monuments to two bullfighters (both surname Ordoñez, evidently children of art) and its white houses, like all of Andalusia, which it offers to its "pilgrims" "the vision of their own white villages lying on the slope of a hill, lying in the hollow of a valley, exposed halfway up or even, as in Guadix - troglodyte city, partly dug into the tuff, from which only the immaculate facade of the houses emerges , which stands out charming and dazzling against the ocher of the mountain.

After Rhonda, Seville

, mythical city of Andalusia, imagined and dreamed of through music, dances, readings and stories. City of sun and blood, of sensuality and death, of which the sublime clothes, the frowns, the clatter of heels and castanets, lightened by the gentle waving of the abanicos, are the representation.

Boat ride on the placid, majestic Guadalquivir.

Can you fall in love with a river? Who knows ?! As a child I certainly loved the Arno, in Pisa. Then this love must have remained inside me, almost forgotten. It resurfaced when I met the magical and fairytale Nile (truly blue) and it exploded again when I met the Guadalquivir of the stars in Cordoba.

Harmony hovers over the city, light and discreet, it manifests itself in its large green and flowery avenues, in its wide, clean and tidy streets, in the water, spontaneous or canalized, which is the basis of so much beauty.

The Guadalquivir of the stars, generous protector, hosts, on its islets of reeds and vegetation, heron farms of herons and white egrets. It seems a miracle to see so many birds nesting at the Roman Bridge, the oldest in the city, practically at the foot of the mosque-cathedral, a building that I believe is unique in the world, of a beauty that leaves you amazed.

From Seville we had made a stop in Cordoba

, parking along the Guadalquivir and, at night, we wanted to see the stars reflected in its heart, but experience and reason led us to seek safety in an equipped and protected campsite.

Goodbye Cordoba love, goodbye Guadalquivir of the stars. Seeing you has made a distant dream come true, my childhood dream fueled by an old song that said: "Stars of Spain with a thousand golden reflections, enchanting lights with a tempting charm. ..". "Here" I promised myself "when I grow up I will go to Spain ...".

Who knows what unconscious fascination that music aroused in me and how long, before being able to verify if that enchantment corresponded to the truth!

On the tenth day we resume the chimney passing through Baena

, a delightful village lying like in a cradle, among the hills that line the road that leads from Cordoba to Granada.

And finally

the Alhambra and Granada

: both of a beauty that leads to tears. The Alhambra is the valley of Eden, it is the lost paradise, but immediately recognized, it is the asceticism of the heart, it is the loss of the mind, it is the satisfaction of aesthetics. The light, the colors, the water (always the water as protagonist with its fresh and sparkling sounds) kidnap you, swell your heart and at the same time teach you to breathe the memory of distant atmospheres, of harmonies unknown to our culture. , of different conceptions.

And at the foot of the Alhambra, Granada: sublime, white, radiant.

Andalucia you are a land of love, even if I do not forget that behind all this white (the word "dawn" occurs very often either as a prefix or as a suffix), in all this light, all this sun, there is the red of blood of the bullring and the black of the death of bullfights.

Adiòs Granada, tierra encantada de sangre y de sol. Traigo con migo a book by tu maximo poet: F. Garcia Lorca.

¡Granada, pomegranate of my coraz6n!

You cross the Sierra Nevada to get to the sea

, the Sierra is imposing, severe, its chains lean against each other and offer themselves to view occupying the entire horizon, up to the sky, in a perspective of wavy and rounded lines. What differentiates it from our mountains are its soft lines, albeit austere, and the warm color of its rocks of a golden brown suffused with purple shadows, which fades into the haze of the horizon.

"Si Dios quiere" has dicho el marroquì de las carteras "nosotros volveremos in Marbella!" Yes Dios quiere! Sadly ineluctable. Dios, fate, chance, karma, fate, the future, everything except our will. Only the strong, only the exalted, bend destiny to their will. ... but not for me.


it is delightful with its old helmet, su calles llenas de flores y su Plaza de los naranjos (y su millionarios).

In Sotogrande

we find the canine exposición set in a very green polo field, with pointed white pavilions, Moorish type.

We sleep inside the exhibition, ready for tomorrow’s victory.

But the competition will strike again: Pepi and Bonita will face second and third places and this time there will be no consoling macaques to give us fraternal glances. .

Never say never. Estamos de nuevo in Granada. Let's review its colors, its sky, its golden mountains, the sensual languor with which it rests in its cuenca, like a beautiful odalisque veiled in white. Of course I'm talking about his old helmet, because the modern part is the same as all modern cities.

But we did not go back to Granada for this, we are here because the cachorriña has been sold and tomorrow morning we will deliver it to a criador español que la quiere mucho ... ..y pays a lot!

Dinner at the restaurant de la Reina Isabelle Camping es muy bonita, como la otra vez, asì como la sangrìa… ..! Pero como me aparece muy más amarga! Que penalty, the last noche de Paloma with nosotros!

Adiòs Paloma, mi amor, dulce pequeña rosada. Donde estas ahora y como estas? ¡Buena suerte, mi amor, buena suerte! Fate be gracious to you, good luck, my darling, I'll never forget you! Dejamos en España a little de nuestro corazòn!

Los tajos de Sorbas: suggestive. EI desierto de Tabernas: sour, raw, lunar, archaic.

In a nightgown by the sea on the sand, under a sky heavy with stars. .. remember Alfredo a starry night, far away, by the sea, on the beach! With within us a youth that shyly opened to the future and above us a moonless sky, but full of stars.

We had our whole life waiting and we were waiting for it with impatience, trusting that it would be starry like that sky, bright like those stars, mysterious like that black and deep vault that overlooked us.

It was August 6, 1959.

Almost half a century has passed and with it life, but tonight I look at those stars with the same eyes as then, as if everything were still to happen, as if the sea should now begin to tell our story and the light breeze would unravel it. gentle and scattered, suffused in a timeless dimension.

"It will be ... it was ... it was ...". It matters little.

The story of our life comes together in a ball of wind, which rolls in the depths of a sky full of stars, but unknown, leaving no trace of us, except that of having belonged, however, to the whole universe.

At 7.30 pm, swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean (a Garrucha) with the sun still hot on the horizon. Then regenerating shower .... With the fear of not being able to shower for who knows how long, we will end up going home skinned, because in reality we always find the camps equipped and we shower every day, when it is a big party we also wash the hair.

It must be said that it often happens that someone comes back excited by a nice hot shower and another, pissed off, by a nice cold shower. It usually happens to Mimma, who, despite saying that she likes showers cold, was once beside herself with anger, because she did not understand the contraption that allowed her to have hot water and had come to the conviction that all campsites were angry with her.

Today, on the other hand, it was Romano's turn, who, driven by our enthusiasm, did not even think for a moment of following us into the sea, but he could not avoid a nice invigorating shower. When he returned, he was a bit on the brink "... it will be, but mine was frozen! ....". We, satisfied by our positive experiences, did not give it much weight: it is evident that the men's showers did not work well.

The daily catchphrases are three: filling oneself with water and emptying oneself of water, that is, filling oneself with drinking water and emptying oneself of clear water and black water. There is no peace until the three missions are accomplished.

The most overwhelming, and also the most dangerous, is always the third, because there are no equipped service areas. We post, therefore, as conspirators in the most filthy places, we pretend indifference and when we are sure that no one spies on us…. away with the hose of the cesspool, exchanging mutual information and reassurances on the state of things: ... "how is it?" "is it clear?". .."that's enough?". ..."yet?". Then we water everything with clear waters, after which full above (drinking water previously made in idyllic places) and empty below, we leave the filthy place running away, leaving it even more filthy, but fertilized.

At that point we begin to enjoy the ride. .. until the next day.

Between us and the dogs we can boast of having fertilized a good part of Andalucia: perhaps it is thanks to the camperos that southern Spain is so luxuriant in vegetation and flowers.

Before falling asleep:! Buenas noches, Paloma cachorrita, no llorar y olvide nos!

Waking up this morning the sun rising from the sea, against the backdrop of a clean, clear, clear and golden sky.

Coastal road to Águilas

and a panorama of rocks and sea of ​​a bluish, evanescent beauty, in a light that was becoming more and more imperious.

We go back to Murcia and the smell is always that of Cambronne, beautiful, full-bodied and defined. 12.40 pm encontrado agua potable: llenos de sobre, vacios de bajo, finally en paz.

Alcoy, also a village of Cambronne. Abandon all hope, oh you who enter, who do not leave there any more! Labyrinthine like Daedalus, we met it in all its glory, three times we did the same tour without being able to get out of it.

We already imagined the television broadcast in Italy "Who has seen it? ...". Three old men with a dog each (one male and two females) lost in an unspecified place in the east of Spain, between seas and mountains. They traveled by camper. Anyone who has a trace 1o communicate to Siena or Velletri .... We would like them back home for Christmas! ".

Thanks to Alcoy we played Valencia. And on to Tarragona. In Sant Carles de la Rápita we sleep in a campsite by the sea.

We fraternize with the owner, whose father from Viareggio married a Spaniard, moving here, while his uncles, divers in Viareggio, all perished in a serious accident.

From the window of my bunk I still admire the same starry sky, looming, of yesterday.

We resume the journey and it is the sixteenth day.

We pass on the Ebre

, which glides placidly towards its estuary, sparkling with the sun, and we reach Barcelona. No emotion: beautiful, large populous city, but not engaging, where we finally ate an excellent paella at the restaurant "7 portas", founded in 1836.

It is the first time that we have queued meters long to enter a restaurant and after we entered, the queue was twice as long. The service runs non-stop from las horas 13 to la hora 1 of the mandrugada, so you can eat at any time and this explains why people line up quietly, without fear of losing their shift.

Internally on the benches there are plates with the name of some famous person who used to sit in that position: Mimma was in the place of Salvador Dalì, I was in the place of another famous, but unknown to me, Romano simply sitting on a chair.

Last night in Spain a


, in a very nice, tidy and equipped campsite…. but so far from the splendor of Andalusia!

Now I understand why Garcia Lorca, the greatest Andalusian poet, wrote poems so overflowing with light, colors, extreme sensations, in a sunny language that expresses them in the most effective and representative way.

Andalucia, tierra de sangre y de sol, yo te traigo en mi corazón, with tus casas blancas, tu ciel azul, tus sierras y tu mar.

¡Adiós España, mañana la France y después la Italy y mi casa! ! Adiós Paloma, cachorrita linda!

I put down the dictionary of Spanish, which the first pilgrims who landed in America from the Mayflower held tightly in my hand as the Bible did throughout the trip.

Of all the decisions I had to make on this trip, one is made: I will return to attend the Spanish course, I do not want to lose the little familiarity with the language that I have earned, I do not want to waste my little wealth of knowledge, which he sometimes grants me unas pequeñas satisfacciónes. Mainly I don't want to lose the memory of the Andalusian luz.

At 11.10 on the seventeenth day we cross the border with France. ¡Hasta la proxima España! Lunch on the edge of a beautiful beach, with a powdery sand and promontory at the end, reminiscent of the Feniglia and Ansedonia of many years ago, all near Sète.

It is now the eighteenth and last day: Friday 13 September 2002.

Finished the notebook, finished the journey!

The weather is cloudless and the dogs since last night are a bit dull: are they feeling the end of the adventure and the return on their lap to the "wild horde" that awaits them at home? Are they the VIPs, the champions, the elite of the gang?

10.32 am we cross the border with Italy.

We are at home: back to loves, to family, to one's own history.

Traveling is like being in an air bubble that floats between past and future, without even being present. It is a "change of sentido" that leads nowhere. It is an escape from time through the conquest of space, a space that takes you away from your everyday life, from your rituality, from your presumed daily certainties. You become only eyes to see, ears to understand, mind to understand, reflect, learn, rework, acquire and remember.

Recuerda! Yes, remember, a moment of lightness, an escape from your path, an absence from your present, which nevertheless continued to flow in the place and in the people with whom you live your story.

Recuerda! The air bubble has stopped floating, has opened and has given you back to your life, with an extra wealth that you will want to share with those you love.


Alba Raggiaschi

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