Slipping down left from the Main Road into Alameda Botanical Gardens was (for me) like walking into the garden of Eden; the minute I entered it was almost like arriving on a different (though very familiar) planet. If there’s such a concept as a ‘place’ being happy to receive an old friend then the way I felt needs no explanation; it was almost as though I was having a telepathic two-way conversation with the trees, the bushes, the cacti and the shrubs. We were all welcoming each other. Especially the Wonky Tree that looked as though it was bending down getting ready to whisper something to me.
(The Wonky Tree)
Just a few yards in and the sound of traffic was replaced by a very beautiful silence, a silence I hadn’t heard since 21 November 1976 (see post 2:59) when the only sounds to break the silence then were the sounds of our children playing on the park (for the last time before we flew back to UK). Walking down into the hub of the gardens was both astonishing and thrilling. It was astonishing because it felt as though I’d never been away and it was thrilling because wherever I went within this gorgeous labyrinth I knew exactly where I was. Although there had been new developments (that I was yet to discover) fundamentally (to me) the only change I detected was that it was ever more tranquil and beautiful.
I could tell you that Wikipedia says the gardens were commissioned in 1816 by the then Governor of Gibraltar General George Don so that his soldiers had somewhere recreational to go when off duty and that local people could enjoy the outdoors and be protected from the extreme sun. But you can easily read that for yourself (along with the history of the Rock, it’s politics and other statistics of general interest). However if I had anything at all to say about George Don’s vision and the creation of the Alameda (speaking as an apolitical, yet pro-British non-Gibraltarian) it would be – thank you.
Sometimes I think words are not always necessary, and (as the old saying goes) a picture can speak a thousand words. When I look at some of the many photographs I took as I walked through the Alameda I don’t think anything I say today could add to what they say. This enchanted corner of this enchanting Rock enchants all who encounter it all on its own without any help from anywhere. What I did know was that during my seven day stay (in addition to whatever else I did) I would visit the Alameda every day.
Although I didn’t have a lot of time – having spent the whole morning on the Med Steps – I was happy enough to take a seat and at least spend a little time with ‘my old friend Alameda’ and for us both drift away into our world, if only for a while.