During the final student trip to Spain that Russell and I chaperoned (yes, still in therapy), one of the day excursions was to the British territory of Gibraltar off of southern Spain. As we drove into Gibraltar on our coach bus I had a few words with my students to prep them for the day. A few pieces of background information on our group—I was traveling with a dozen kids who were definitely having their ups and downs along the way, but what was most troubling to me were the chaperones of the other student group traveling with us. Unfortunately when your group is small, the travel agency pairs you up with another school group whom you have never met. The chaperones of this group, Amy and Linda, were part of the reason that this was my final student trip. I made great efforts prior to and during the trip to prep my students on geography, history, culture, and not drawing attention to themselves. I went over restaurant and tour behavior, including listening attentively to our guides at each site.
Their style of chaperoning was quite different. Whenever we would be on a guided tour of a historical site or museum, I would be annoyed to hear people from our group talking and then turn around to find it was Amy and Linda. This rudeness was an irritation but it got worse. About halfway through the trip, Amy (who said she lived with her boyfriend) and our tour guide Roberto started to have what I would call “a thing”. It was so obvious and shameless that one afternoon in the lobby of our hotel, one of my students loudly asked me within earshot of Amy, “Señora, if Russell wasn’t on this trip with us, would you be having an affair with our tour guide?” Nice.
Also, the day prior to our Gibraltar excursion, Amy and Linda took their group on a side trip to Morocco. I can just imagine how that went. I was really enjoying the day without them until I saw them return to the hotel. Every one of the group, Amy and Linda included, had returned from Morocco sporting cornrow braids. They had the chance to spend time in Morocco and they devoted hours of that time to having their hair braided? This is NOT the Caribbean! It is Spain. No one does this. Talk about drawing attention to yourselves! I might as well have made all of my students change into shorts, white tennis, and I love America t-shirts. So now we had to accompany them the rest of the trip with them looking like this.
And so we arrived in Gibraltar…………
We strolled down the streets and made our way to the most famous landmark—The Rock. As we got to the base of The Rock, we had the option to walk up or take a cable car to the top. About half our group walked up and the rest of us were going to take the cable car. Russell is terrified of heights and not only was he going in the cable car, but also up to a huge cliff—way to take one for the team! Can’t say the same for some others. One of the kids on the trip said that she didn’t want to go up because elevation bothered her asthma. (Side note—The Rock is under 1,400 feet above sea level and Wisconsin is 1,600 feet…..hmmm) Anyways, Linda stepped up to volunteer to stay at the bottom as well, complaining about some ailment that in fact was just her not being in shape and overweight. Another gift—I would have an hour of relief from her.
As we got off the cable car and looked around we were greeted with beautiful views of Gibraltar, Spain, Africa, and the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Eventually we were joined by the rest of the group, including some of my male students (one of them the kid who made the affair comment in the lobby) who were so excited to show Russell and me the video they just took of the famous Barbary Apes that live on The Rock. I was thinking they filmed the apes being fed by one of the kids, the apes eating bugs off each other, or even an ape stealing something from one of the kids. Oh, no. There in front of us was a video of….well, monkey spanking! That’s right—lovely footage of one of the Barbary Apes pleasuring himself. Not only would I have to see this video, but I would have to hear about it for the next year or so as I overheard these students tell other kids back home how this was the highlight of their trip. Not the museums and palace of Madrid, not the picturesque city of Toledo, not the Moorish wonders of the Alhambra or the Mezquita, no. This ape.
As I stood on the edge of The Rock, contemplating the two hour ride back to the hotel and also the three days that remained of the trip, let’s just say it was a good thing the railing was there.