Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Gibraltar.

I've never practiced medicine outside of the British Isles before. All my previous medical jobs have been for the National Health Service. And so, as I find myself working as a Consultant Anaesthetist in Gibraltar for the next few weeks, my environment must seem unfamiliar! Certainly some aspects do, and in particular the warm sunshine makes a welcome change from the freezing weather being endured back on the Isle of Man. Yet in other ways Gibraltar is very familiar. Being here reminds me of my initial days when I moved to the Isle of Man some five years ago. It's all very strange and yet familiarly British at the same time.
Gibraltar is a British territory with it's own government. Just like the Isle of Man it uses £'s as it's currency and English notes are readily accepted. It is not an island but it feels very much like one, especially to me as I'm not allowed to drive across the airport runway into Spain as I am on call the whole time. Just like home, it is very easy to identify who is from the territory and who is not. Historically, smuggling has been rife just like on the Isle of Man, exploiting it's low taxation regimen. Yes, in many ways this is a home from home.
In other ways it is Gibraltar is very different. It measures 2.6 square miles into which are packed over 25,000 people. The rock dominates, leaving very little flat land and most of that has been reclaimed from the sea. Tiny zig zag tracks lead to the summit which is studded with war time relics, telecommunications devices, gun batteries and of course the famous apes roaming free. This was a fortress and past and present military buildings dominate. But with the reduction of Gibraltar's strategic importance new civilian office buildings dwarf the old ramparts and fortifications. Gibraltar now strives to become a low tax financial centre, just like the Isle of Man.
Paddling is not an option for me on this trip due to work commitments. I should imagine it would be a fascinating place to explore by kayak. Just beware of the hundreds of ships passing through these waters as they enter the Port of Gibraltar and the Port of Cadiz in nearby Spain.

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