Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sketches of Spain
Perhaps it's right to evoke Miles Davis here. There was something haunting and beautiful about this place. Everything slowed down, but I didn't mind the slowness, the empty spaces. The view from our window was across the river to this little town. A small skiff ran between our two villages and we often rode back and forth many times a day. There were good seafood restaurants where we had leisurely lunches of fish, pulling right from the sea. San Pedro where we lived was an open, lively place, but we found San Juan more isolated.
Only a thousand people lived there and they had lived for generations. Basque separatist flags flew from many of the houses, especially during the fiesta time. There was an undercurrent that we sensed, but could not quite describe. Our neighbor explained for us. Half of that village votes for the party that favors ETA. It is a strong bastion of the Basque movement.
As we walked the streets, we observed posters, mainly written in Basque, with hundreds of faces. It seems that the Spanish government had sent prisoners far away from their families and the families were asking them to be returned to prisons nearby. This was a major political issue in the area. We were aware of this tension, but we were taken up in something else. The txacoli that they poured from on high at the bar around the corner, pintxos in the evening, the strange rowing dance they made Larry do on the ground of the plaza.
Then there was the walk through the mountains that the pilgrims take to San Sebastian, the giant freighters, bound for Newfoundland and Kazakstan, cruising by. The rhythmic grunts as the rowers raced by. When the children were jumping from the seawall, I joined them. I knew it was high tide.