Cigarettes, compounds and cars

I don’t smoke, I don’t smuggle, so I don’t know the price of cigarettes in Gib. I just know they are cheap – and that for some reason, the smuggling seems to have dropped off over the last few days.

How do I know this? Well, simple really. People who buy cigarettes in Gib, to smuggle them across the frontier to re-sell them in Spain, take them out of the cartons to hide in their vehicles or their motorbikes. Then they throw the plastic bags away that their cartons came in.

But they don’t throw them in bins. Oh no. They literally drop them on the floor. Naturally, being environmentally sound we pick them up and check for holes. Because not only are we sound, we are also tight-arsed, and they serve very well for picking up after the dog. Everybody’s happy, we get free bags, the smugglers don’t bother to look for a litter bin, and the street cleaners have slightly less work to do. Except the discarded bag supply had suddenly dried up.

At least three people weren’t happy last week, according to the hot-off-the-press building site gossip. Seems that a Guardia Civil officer had stopped someone on a moped/motorbike at the border crossing and impounded their illegal contraband – cigarettes. This is not unreasonable as that is what they are paid to do. However, apparently, the bike and former fag-owner thought it was, so knowing where the officer lived, went to bash him and his girlfriend later that night. As ever, I tell you this as mere gossip, because there is always a big Gib Disinformation Factor here.

What is not gossip however, is the fact that there were increasing delays crossing the frontier into Spain after that alleged incident, with Guardia Civil stopping just about every single moped or bike that had somewhere to hide cigarettes.

By the time we got to leave on Saturday, we had hit the border queue well before Sundial roundabout. A few hours in the sun, (with the dog in the back), not moving, and wasting diesel, is no fun. We thought about turning round, but as we did, the traffic suddenly started to move, so we went for it.

They were stopping mopeds, but not many cars. They stopped us ‘cos they always do, saw nothing but a furry dog in the back, and waved us on. The compound however, was full of seized vehicles. Mostly mopeds, but some cars too. If you aren’t up on the smuggling business, when they take your smuggled goods, they also take your vehicle so natch you then need to pay extra to get it back. I have never seen it so full, in fact it is usually pretty empty.

Packed compound

Here is a link to the Chron for those of you fascinated with the whys and wherefores of smuggling across the Gibraltar-Spanish frontier.

Panorama has a different take on it – here check out border chaos headline, (link may change when this gets archived on the Panorama site).

I could write more but I have flowers and classic cars to fit in yet.

My beautiful winter jasmine is flowering. It’s glorious.

Wonderful winter jasmine

I sat and looked at the jasmine for most of Saturday afternoon while I waited for the largest ever paella to cook. It was the largest ever because I wanted enough left for breakfast. I don’t think I cooked enough.

When we finally left to make the return trip on the Sunday, I spotted a row of old cars in the village car park. It’s a car park in as much as cars, and trucks and caravans park there, but there is no asphalt or parking bays, or tickets, thank goodness.

When we got to the main road, we turned round so that I could go back and take some pix. There were a lot of Citroens and Mercs, with a beautiful Chrysler, a Cadillac, a Seat and a couple of others thrown in. They were gleaming, in excellent condition.

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Looking at the signs on their vehicles they were obviously on a run, taking the Ruta de la pasa y el vino, which goes around the villages of the Axarquia that grow grapes and make wine.

A beautiful day for a run, so we took ours back down to Gibraltar. And stopped off at Europa Point for a dogwalk.

Gibraltar, with Morocco rising ethereally out of the mists behind
Gibraltar, with Morocco rising ethereally out of the mists behind

Lighthouse at Europa Point
Lighthouse at Europa Point
Spring flowers, perched on the cliff tops

21 comments on “Cigarettes, compounds and cars

    • Thank you for that one, and sharing the photos with your husband. I do have a vehicle blog, but I am struggling with importing it into wordpress, unlike all the others :(

      Should he be so interested it is on – same on wordpress, but I think I will privatise it (the WP one) until I have sorted out the posts and then re-open it. The blogger one is still open.

      Anyway, yes, the scenery was beautiful, nice to be able to post some pix for y’all to see.

      * I only needed to edit this reply 50 times *


    • Thanks, it does smell wonderful. It must have been a strange winter because normally the summer jasmine and the winter don’t overlap, but there are still flowers on the summer jasmine too, even though the winter (on this plant) is well in bloom.


    • The only drawback with the slideshow is that you can’t be selective – I wanted some pix as photos and the cars on the slideshow – but you get the lot. I think there are other techier options but I went for easy. Saves cluttering up the blog with too many pix. I like the impression it gives of movement too.

      As for smuggling, they do it every way there is! Walking pedestrians, mopeds, cars, boats, probably ‘planes for all I know :D


  1. How did I manage to miss this post. The Citroen (with running boards?) is T’s all time favourite vehicle, then the MGB (such happy memories), I just love all the pics, the weather looks stunning too, there is something about the white walls, blue sky and sun that just makes me feel happy.
    Cigarettes smuggling, and drink for that matter, you’d be surprised how many folk wanted T to bring vast quantities back to UK when he drove the truck abroad.


    • I was really pleased we turned round to go back and take some pix. I was quite pleased with the slide show effect too, I think sometimes it works better than having a load of photos, especially for something like that.

      I would not be surprised. When our friends who worked for the Inland Revenue and their teenage (under age) daughters all took back more than their allotted allowance (none of them smoked) for the youngest (14?) to sell at school, I realised I would never be surprised about smuggling again at all.


  2. Hmm, I read this with great interest. only one question, with all the to’ing and fro’ing near the border I would have thought the Guardia Civil would have thought you were up to no good. Marmite smuggling perhaps? Brilliant pics, think I will get some winter jasmine for my garden. However, in Sunny England either wet rot or frost will probably get it.


    • They know we are up to no good. That’s why they always stop us. Or it could be that they want to look at the dog, or simply that we have a van body. Loathe Marmite :D Try and buy plain yeast extract when poss.

      Winter jasmine lasts for literally a few weeks, summer jasmine lasts for months. The previous owner planted the winter stuff, I planted summer. I want flowers all year! Not just in February!


      • I see you loathe marmite, oh well no-one is perfect. It is one of those things, when I lived in Germany for a while ex pats would ask for Marmite, Typhoo Tea and … of all things sage and onion stuffing to be provided whenever I returned home for a break. Beats me.


        • Come along. Move up a gear. Marmite is full of junk that is why I buy plain yeast extract. I used to buy Community Yeast Extract in the UK. Huge pots of excellent stuff. I thought you had realised I AM perfect. Sort of.

          I do loathe Typhoo though :D I am Tea Picky Person. Now speaking of sage and onion, Redwood/vegideli do the neatest sage and onion slices for sarnies. Just saying if you haven’t tried them.

          Have to say before we came to Gib, we bought what was available in Spain. In Gib we do the same. Buy local, shop local etc etc.


          • I drink mostly herbal tea, I am told it will help me sleep and do all sorts of good stuff for the various aches and pains, I have a real weakness for fresh coffee too but only buy fair trade as a nod toward being ethical.
            I like the yeast extract thing but somehow since being veggie find the taste too strong and therefore avoid more than use. We buy as local as we can (back garden to plate all summer long which is great) and as for sage and onion not my thing but for some reason my friends always seem to want it. Course I was much younger and meat eating then.


          • I’m not sure whether herbal tea does achieve much, although I quite like chamomile with anis (I don’t think you can get the anis version in the UK). Couple of drops of lavender oil on the pillow sends anyone to sleep. I buy local coffee, not as in grown in Gib, but there is a local coffee firm and they do great coffee.
            Vecon (jar) and Kallo low salt stock cubes are a good subs for straight yeast extract and much milder if you haven’t tried them.
            My UK veg garden is one of the few things I miss. The slices are good for a quick sandwich – and I have to make them six days a week for my partner!


    • Thanks, I just couldn’t resist them. There is a classic car club here in Gib too but we usually manage to miss their rallies/meets. I may have taken a few pix of them but that would be a year or two ago so I would need to search the files :(


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