Postcards from Bizkaia
Today we ventured on amazing journey. After enjoying a wonderful breakfast in an glass enclosed atrium at our seaside hotel, we followed the narrow winding costal road and took in incredible views of this rugged and wild coastline. Thick, rich forest lined our route and a continuous carpet of ferns paved our way. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, we would come into a clearing that showed us glimpses of the many coves and inlets that are so much a part of this beautiful coastline. Then at the next turn, we came upon small villages tightly tucked into the crags formed by eons of time and shaped by the strength and force of nature.
Space along the coast is at a premium, so in the few villages that have established a foothold here, housing towers spawn up like vertical tentacles reaching for the sky. Everyone makes accommodations for the fact that life that clings to the crags must share very available inch of space. In Elantxobe for example, the main street narrows so much that the public bus cannot turn around at the end of the street to make the return trip back to San Sebastian. Adaptation and ingenuity are characteristic of the Basque and so the townspeople installed a turntable that allows the bus to rotate 180° so that it can return from where it came!
It is difficult to find the words to express the beauty of this Basque region. Mountainous, rugged, heavily forested with hidden coves as rugged as those of Big Sur, one’s eyes and senses can be overwhelmed. Looking out at the vast expanse of the Atlantic, you can actually see the slight curvature of the earth. And when traveling along the narrow twisting mountain road and coming upon a small village at the foot of vertical cliffs, you realize the beauty of the jewel you just chanced upon.
We continued for several hours, stopping here and there to take in another breath of the beauty that surrounds us. And alas, we arrived in Guernica. Guernica is the phoenix of this region. Having suffered total devastation by Hilter’s bombers with the indulgence of Franco in 1937, Guernica was razed to the ground. Thousands of its townspeople perished. But true to the strong spirit of the Basque, the town was rebuilt, traditions restored, and today Guernica is a symbol of peace, tolerance, and forgiveness.
It is a lovely town, quiet, peaceful, where the pace of life is taken one step at a time.
Our intent today was to discover what the Basque have known all along about their region — that if there is a heaven, then you couldn’t get closer to it than this.