Sunday, May 9:  Rocamador

After breakfast we split up, so I could take care of some chores via the Internet, and David came along to get his Internet fix. First, I made sure they were expecting us in Paris where we were to return the car. Got to the Internet spot to find it was not open. Tried my cash card to load up for paying the hotel bill. Refused at two machines. Pat and Robert were loose in the town somewhere, at Mass we eventually learned, so we headed back to the room to type and write postcards.

Got rolling about 1 PM and drove east about 50 kilometers to the town of Rocamador. Its on three levels, which is difficult to imagine until you get there. At the top lip of a canyon there is a chateau, running right up to the edge. A funicular of sorts will take you up and down for a charge, but we walked the trail down to the Basilica. At the switchbacks of the trail, there are the stations of the cross, each in an enclosure about big enough for one person, and we encountered them in reverse order. The Basilica itself is high above the town proper, and backed up against the rock of the nearly vertical canyon wall. (Photo 111) It appears that the lip of the canyon actually extends out over the church. The back wall of the Basilica is simply the rock wall. Surrounding the church are patios and chapels, interconnected by stairways, tunnels and arches.

After Pat and the boys visited the Museum of Sacred Art, we descended the Grand Staircase down through the upper reaches of the town to its long main street of shops and restaurants. We bought sandwiches at the first shop we found and ate them on a park bench. As the weather was much improved today, the crowds began to increase as the afternoon wore on.

Next stop was the nearby Foret de Singet, or Forest of Monkeys. A twenty hectare enclosure contains 130 Barbary Macaque, a primate of some sort. The babies were about the size of a large cat, while the adults might be as big as a medium size dog. After about a 100 meter stroll, we came to the first area where they were congregated. Popcorn was given to us at the entrance, and if approached they would politely take a single piece of popcorn from your hand. David is a huge fan of monkeys, and both boys had hoped to go to the Rock of Gibraltar to see the semi-wild ones there, so this was a real treat for them. I fed one monkey and it wiggled its eyebrows at me, so I wiggled mine back and he recoiled slightly into an alarmed, defensive posture. Guess I sent the wrong signal. We wandered for about an hour visiting several areas where the monkeys had congregated. Most ignored our presence, some waited patiently for a handout, and only one was at all aggressive, tugging on David’s elbow for another piece of popcorn. At the end, we witnessed several minutes of screeching and aggressive behavior, all within a few meters in front of us. (Photo 113)

The drive home was more scenic and pleasant, since we took a better route than we did coming. We’ve now put just over 5000 kilometers on the car, roughly equivalent to driving across the United States. Caught the Internet shop before dinner, and cleared up our bill-paying service login problem, sent a few confirmations on future arrangements, and even got my cash card to work again -- a very productive outing. Dinner was back at Pinocchio’s Pizza, David’s choice as part of his continuing birthday observance. Managed to put Pat to work, as the boxer who lay on the floor next to us all through dinner got a free exam of the tumor growing on his paw. We were done eating by 8:30 PM, a recent record for promptness, and spent the rest of the evening with laundry, shipping, postcards and journals.

PIC
Photo 108  Dordogne River
PIC
Photo 109  Castlenaud View

PIC
Photo 110  Castlenaud
PIC
Photo 111  Rocamador Basilica
PIC
Photo 112  David Feeding Monkey

PIC
Photo 113  David and Friend