Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Dream Come True

It still feels odd when I tell people I’m living in San Sebastian.

It’s a dream come true.   In my opinion this beachside town is the best in Spain, the elegant jewel of Spain’s verdant northern Atlantic coast. 

I have everything I need here.  Two exquisite beaches in the center of town, a great surfing beach, the charm of the fishing port and narrow warren of bars and restaurants in the old town, and a youthful population living aside the vanguards of arguably the oldest culture in Europe.  France is 30 minutes away, the Pyrenees are no farther, and a rugged coastline stretching from here to Portugal beckons me to explore her shores on a year's worth of surf trips. 

Still there is more here than meets the eye.  Nominally, this city is in Spain and nearby Biarritz is in France.  But these lands are disputed territories, home to a nationless people called the Basques.  I am fascinated by Basque culture - speakers of an ancient language unrelated to any other on earth, at once outward-looking explorers and innovators with a cloistered, conservative streak running through the hinterlands.  The Basques' desire for autonomy and independence has deteriorated into a terrorist war against the Spanish and French central governments, sadly overshadowing the rich culture for which they fight. 

I hope to use this blog both to chronicle my adventures and showcase the beauty I see in the Basque culture. 

Such beauty is often self-evident - look at the background picture of this blog.  Yesterday I walked up to this hill, one of two that guards the crescent-shaped beach, and beheld my new home.  From where I stood the sheltered bay stretched out before me, named Bahia de la Concha for it’s shell-like shape.  Its golden beach arced from there to a narrow peninsula where the Old Town huddles against the steep, fortified mountain at its tip.  Beyond this bay lies the surf beach, Gros and the northern foothills of the Pyrenees.  In the distant horizon I can see Biarritz, France.  To my left stormed the capricious Atlantic throwing waves and wind against the cliffs, ports, and beaches of the Basque Country.  Sea, wind, and the hills – this landscape lies at the heart of the Basques. 

It is in this landscape that I will make my home for the next year.  One year in this seaport, tucked between France, Spain and the Pyrnees.  A year in Basqueland.  

I came back to the moment and watched the sunset splash purple waves across the bay and the lights come on in the Old Town. For a moment I could see in the reflection in the water all the experiences waiting for me in the coming months.  I could not help but smile. 

It’s going to be a great year. 

No comments:

Post a Comment