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Under Gibraltar’s starry skies

A moment lived in India by Stefano Scilipoti, a traveller from Italy

That day we were damn tired. We were able to chase and catch a bus from Malaga after an awful night. We had slept on the beach. Our bones were such damp we could hear our joints cracking at the slightest movement. We slept clutching our little pouches with essential goods, as we had left the backpacks in the railway station’s lockers. However, in the early morning, Patrick got robbed of his one. It was probably ten minutes or one hour afterward that he groggily opened his eyes to find that the little bag was missing. Then, we were lucky. It seems absurd, but the guy who clearly stole the bag was leaning on a jumble of deckchairs smoking a big joint. And it was keeping it just under his legs. We couldn’t have met a more stupid thief. Well, Patrick angrily headed toward this guy, and he didn’t move at all. Once there, he just asked the pouch back. The stoner guy just let it, trying to say that he found the bag there, obviously lying. Incredibly, checking that everything was still inside – mobile phone and wallet above all, nobody would like to spend a couple of weeks in the Italian embassy trying to have an ID card back – Patrick noticed that only the money was missing, and he walked back to us. I was still clumsily looking for my glasses, which I managed to find a minute later. Francesco, the only Spanish speaker among us, asked the guy to have the money back, with no result. At least, we had everything necessary to fetch our backpacks and head to the next destination. Lesson one: never sleep on a Spanish beach with anything valuable.

After that little hitch, we had a hearty breakfast and another short nap on a random park. A short nap, that means it was almost lunch. Fortunately, we found a cheap bakery where we had a big sandwich with an ice cold beverage for few euros. We finally fetched our backpacks and yes, let’s come back to the bus. After few hours, passing by a myriad of pueblos, we reached La LÍnea de la cóncepcion.

Actually I don’t remember why the bus was stopping right there, but that was it. It was 3 am: not even in the most desolated city we were expecting such a silence. Just the wind was loudly blowing toward the sea. We spent a good time lying on the windy beach, then we entered Gibraltar. Of course, we didn’t know where to sleep, but the idea was that: the airport. We slowly strolled there. Francesco started talking with a guard, asking if it was safe sleeping there. The answer was…bad: it would be closed at night, and even worst, he didn’t recommend the beach as a good place where to rest. At that point, the only option seemed to be sleeping standing on our feet. Furthermore, I was the only one without a sleeping bag, and I was not really in a good mood to screw my bones again, now that they were recovering. Incredibly, the guard went off for a few minutes and he came back with a sleeping bag: he just gave it to me. Damn, in that moment it was like I had just been given 1000 euros!

Even in summer time, Gibraltar can be very nasty at night. We had it. A sleeping bag, a good one! We had our typical dinner with canned squids, mackerels and a stony slice of bread. To drink, a 30°C beer. The night was coming and we had to rest, the day next we had planned to go up on the Rock of Gibraltar. Patrick was too scared – understandable – to have another night outside, please, not two in a row. So we found the only youth hostel in that place, and we spent half an hour chatting with the owner, a Spanglish speaker. We left Patrick and our phones charging there. We were now in two, it was one o’clock then, and we still had to find a place where to sleep. Smoking a cigarette, we went up. And up. And up. Among masonic houses and obscure alleyways, we reached the entrance of a church: the question was now whether to sleep on a bench or find a more hidden place.

We moved forward. Few steps later, I craned my neck over a short wall: there was a paved futsal pitch. Apparently, it was the only choice. Better than nothing! We stepped into slightly forcing the lock. We carefully chose the most hidden corner and we finally took the backpacks off our shoulders. I unrolled my new sleeping bag, the mattress, and Francesco unwrapped his, to be used as a light blanket. I had a very last pinch of my Old Holborn tobacco and I rolled the last cigarette for the two of us. Finally, I stretched on the downy sleeping bag and I squeezed myself to make room for my friend. We were tired but awkwardly happy. I looked up. We were under Gibraltar’s starry skies.

This traveller has a blog : Forever travelling

credit photo : Stefano Scilipoti

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