Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Magic Fungus and Fungus rock, by Stevie Haston.
It's illegal nowadays to climb Fungus rock, so please don't. We had permission, it's rarely given, so we were lucky. For those who won't get permission what's the story? Well it's a long one, around the year 1650 there was a cable car to the top, and guards living on it. So it was climbed years ago, proving what exactly, that Gozo was a climbing nation, or we were interested in Fungus. The name Fungus rock alludes to the strange fungus like parasitic plant that grows here.
Well this Fungus which was thought to be just endemic to this rock, but which has been recorded else where, looks like a penis, and is a red colour also. For this reason it was sold for supposed healing, or magical properties. So Fungus rock was a bit of climbing, a bit of medicine, and a bit of business.
We were careful to walk on rocks, and do no damage, that's not too hard actually, you just take your time, and you don't damage a single plant, so it's not too hard to have no impact. There is a local, or isolated lizard too on the rock, he is interesting for his different colour, but normal size.
There has been some scientific research done recently that suggests that there may be some medicinal worth to the penis like plant, but it's still ongoing, or growing heehee.
There were also fossilised sharks teeth found around the cliffs just north of here, and they were sold as Dragon teeth, so the knights of Saint John, and /or the local Gozitans, were not averse to a bit of crafty selling.
The little shelter were the two guards hung out, is complete with a few carved out niches, but is fairly unremarkable. Indeed it must have been a bit of a lonely, uncomfortable job.
We were reported for climbing the rock, and had to go to the police station to show our permit so don't be tempted to climb it. The routes are unremarkable in themselves, so you won't miss any quality, they are trad and rather loose, so in many ways your just better off looking at it! I climbed it when I was a kid, when there was no ban, but today the climbs else where on Gozo are much better. It's just a neat little story, and the local name Il Gebble tal General just means generals rock. I have seen spray going over the top of this rock in rough seas, which is a rare sight worth seeing, for it's over 40 meters high. The plants are salt proof, and there is a good sprinkling of the endemic flowering shrub Everlasting. Anyway there you go a little story.