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Posts Tagged ‘Jean de Luz’

So you’ve heard about my ice-skating. My pride told me that it needed to take sick-leave to recuperate. So I decided “Why not go too?” (In reality things went a little differently, maybe because my emotions are not sentient, but who cares?)

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Monk

So on Saturday the 29th of October, we set out once again to the wild, wild country know as Basque Country (pronounced like, “Bask in my glory”). I was conned into watching the lord of the rings on DVD and I got the feeling that the scenery outside the car became a little jealous of the awesome cinematography. It tried it’s best to compensate and gave me this awesome shot of the Pyrenees

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That Night I decided I would go for a walk and do some thinking. I got lost and fell down a hill. My thoughts, don’t go walking late at night in the hills in a city you hardly know.

But my luck didn’t stop there! The annual Basque pepper festival was the next day. The drive out didn’t take very long, in fact we spent twice as long looking for a car-park than it took to get there. But after driving the entire stretch of road it was just impossible to find a car park. And we voyaged onward to city of Biarritz located 15km NE of Sainte-Jean-de-Luz. It was an absolutely stunning place. However, my camera – who had been out late last night – had absolutely no energy and had to wait in the car. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the waterfront and made our way back home feeling relaxed and at peace.

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So relaxed, in fact, that we only left the house again the next afternoon. Eventually we just couldn’t put it off any longer. Deep in the heart of St. Jean, we did our shopping, only to be disturbed by singing in the street. I was confused and went out to look. Just one man, wearing old clothes and thick stubble, singing opera on the streets.

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It was late in the afternoon and Michel wanted to take us to one of his favourite places. We were at the cliffs which held the city over the sea. It was a walk through the scrub and I couldn’t tell when we had arrived, but he insisted it was here. Eventually we found it buried beneath decades of vegetation and disrepair. He explained to us that  during the second World War, German Nazis had used this battlement and others all along the coast for surveying the Atlantic. When he was little, he and his friends used to travel between the bunkers using a series of underground tunnels, but today they have collapsed.
I can’t speak for the men who were posted here during the German occupation, but I found it difficult to imagine any kind of War going on.

SANY0043 Stitch (2)

On the last day, I did a little foreign occupation of my own. It was only a short drive – and a 4.00 Euro toll – to the Spanish side of the border and for me it felt like arriving in France for the first time. Everything was new and exciting, and I found it hard to believe that France was mere kilometres away. SANY0044

We arrived in San Sebastián and I breathed my first breath of Spanish air (actually chances are it was probably mostly French air that had blown in from over the border, but you’d never hear a Spaniard admit it.)

The city was utterly beautiful. It seems that the Spanish put their gold to good use. It was everywhere, on bridges, statues, churches. Oh yes, churches. In an area of about 200m x 200m, we found about 5. Nothing small either, each towered over the 6-story buildings which surrounded them.

We walked back to the bay which was surrounded by store fronts. I thought to myself how much I liked it here, but that it wasn’t like France. Not really even similar. It’s the subtle things that made it’s beauty stand out. The little things that separate the Spanish from the French – Architecture and People.

SANY0059 Stitch

But maybe they’re a lot more similar than they think. Here on the modern border between two nations, is a region of the same native people and language. No matter how much the Spanish here might want to believe they are different and try to separate themselves from the French, they don’t have a chance. Both regions are immensely proud of their  Basque heritage. So in today’s time of global unification and instant information, we still shy away from Other cultures. People aren’t willing to go back further through their ancestry to a time when all the people alive really were family. I feel family. I feel it more than ever now. They say that “It doesn’t matter how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich” and in these times of economic crisis I know I have nothing to worry about.

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Jean de Luz, You are a Sainte

Everything that’s happened since Saturday has been pretty incredible.

I met the Rasquins on Saturday and that was amazing. After a few misunderstandings, I managed to get through dinner – with a lot of “oui” and laughing – without looking like too much of a dork.

I spent most of Sunday morning

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