Monkeys & Mines

Our stop in Gibraltar yielded two important lessons:


First—primates with thumbs are not a good idea. 


And Second—


To go and only see the top of the rock and its famously impish monkeys, is to miss the real story of Gibraltar. 


Beneath the famous British rock there are a labyrinth of war tunnels that boggle the mind. These 34 miles of tunnels had us speechless. 

There are two sets of tunnels. The first were incredibly dug by hand in the 1700’s during the Great Siege. The lower tunnels were dug during WWII.  Inside you’ll find spaces big enough to house a small hospital, massive rooms for lodging, vast storage rooms, and a huge kitchen to feed everyone living inside. As we walked through the tunnels we were astounded by its size and the significance of this strategic military base’s place in history. Old photographs hung near the entrance brought these tunnels to life. 


Later we would learn that our nephew Andrea had a grandfather who was captured by the British during Mussolini’s campaign to wrestle for parts of Africa.  His grandfather, Giovanni Dallavalle spent three years as a prisoner of war on Gibraltar. 


Despite being a prisoner, his grandfather felt blessed to be there. He didn’t talk much about it but when he did, he told of being treated well and more importantly, feeling like it saved him from remaining on the dangerous forefront of Mussolini’s ill-prepared army. An army which had little food and were often starving.  Here in Gibraltar, those captured were made to work but also given food and freedom to roam the peninsula.


Our nephew Andrea and his family feel a great bond with this place that likely saved his grandfather from starvation and death. And we were thankful for their shared stories which brought this place to life. 

This is Megan and Louis, two fabulous new friends we met while walking around Gibraltar. They’ve moved here from Canada and have made a home here. 


Such lovely people, it’s always the best part of travel, meeting great people. A simple hello often turns the world into a friendly and small place.

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