I spent the afternoon traversing the roads circling Gibraltar in search of the legendary apes. Just as I abandoned hope and the gates to the roads were closing for the day, I heard a loud "screeech!" Yards away, a dozen monkeys popped out of the bushes to pay me a surprise visit.
Let me back up for a minute…I am terrified of monkeys. I have seen far too many Fatal Attraction episodes of monkeys turning fierce and ripping limbs off of their human owners. I would say this is a valid reason to steer clear of the creatures. Either way, when I first spotted my new furry friends I was elated and so excited about the prospect of getting an epic monkey Fb profile picture, my fear vanished. I threw my purse and jacket on the ground and ran toward the animals!
Ely started snapping pictures of me. I approached the first monkey. Initially terrified, I kept my distance. When he didn't immediately maul me I gained courage and crept closer and closer. Suddenly, the creature leapt from the bush, grabbed my purse and began rummaging through it. He threw the water bottle and bag of mixed nuts aside—obviously this ape had a better target in mind…my passport. Panic overcame me. I had two options: (1) rip the purse from the monkey's grasp and run, or (2) follow the ape to his den, make friends with the monkey family and peacefully negotiate my beloved belongings back. Somehow, I didn't imagine the monkey's den to be homosapien accessible and had an inkling that my new furry friend far outmatched my agility. Frightening images of being stranded in Gibraltar for weeks until I could get a new passport filled my mind. None of these sounded like a good option.
During my bout of terror, I remembered an email I recently received. You know those large-colored-font-forwarded messages with a hodgepodge of email addresses pasted at the top? It was one of those. I normally delete them immediately, but something about the "Tips for Solo Female Travelers" headline captivated me. If I didn't read it, coincidence would find me in the worst case scenario stranded thousands of miles from home. The one interesting thing I learned was if someone asks for your purse, you should throw it as far as you can and run in the opposite direction.
Reality suddenly became crystal clear. I WAS GETTING MUGGED BY A MONKEY!
Instinctively, I grabbed the nearest rock and tossed it to the side of the ape, hoping to provide an alluring alternative to my goods. Success! The monkey chased the rock allowing me to snatch my bag. Thank God, no prolonged stay in Gibraltar for me.
I did get a few epic Fb pictures, and made it out of Gibraltar rabies-free, but my monkey-phobia won't be going away any time soon.