It was not an easy decision to make. I almost chose Andalusia. I couldn’t decide between these cold, Basque-speaking hills on the French border or the gypsy-scented flamenco lands near the deserts of
Moroccoan Africa. In all of Spain there are not two lands more different in culture, language, climate, cuisine, landscape or ambiance.
|Andalusia (Sevilla, Feria de Abril)|
Certainly most foreigners prefer the iconic culture of Andalusia. I wanted something different. I saw great potential in a year amongst the Basques, perhaps even a challenge to unravel the mysteries that lie folded within these valleys and coves.
But to get here, I had to ask for it. As the Spanish say – el que no pide no mama – literally, he who does not ask does not breast-feed. Perhaps a better English translation would be ask and thou shalt receive.
|More Basque Coastline|
So in my application letter for the scholarship, I all but named where I wanted to live. I explained that after a year in the heart of Spain, I wanted to live on its northern fringe – specifically, in a place near the beach with culture, young people, nightlife and surf. My wish was granted – two months later I landed a job in one of San Sebastian’s high schools.
After six years away from the beach and the last year in near isolation, I could not be more appreciative. I pinch myself each time I walk past the beach, the film festival, or the nightlife of the Parte Vieja. I see a great year rolling out before me, perhaps the greatest yet. As I wonder if I will ever leave here, I remember the old Spanish saying,
El que no pide no mama.
Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’m sure glad I asked.