Monday, July 02, 2012

and so, all good things...

How did you know the word for jellyfish? Ed asks.
I don’t know how I know. Maybe it’s the same in Polish or French.
We had encountered a man swimming near the shore of the estuary and we asked him if it’s possible to swim from here to the other (beautifully sandy) shore.
No! Medusas! La corriente!
So maybe there are jellyfish because of the current or maybe there are dangerous currents and jellyfish, in any case, I lose interest in attempting the great swim across the wide body of water.

Besides, it’s still rather cool. They say yet again that it will rain all day Sunday, but so far, the only great rains we’ve experienced during our entire trip were back on our first day in Sorede. Ed looks up and points to blue breaks between clouds. It wont rain, he says confidently. (He has some kind of a rapport with the weather gods, because most often he is correct in his predictions, even though this time, I think he is mistaken. is absolutely certain. Rain. All day.)

At breakfast we hear the familiar flute. What now? Marco tells us – just a little Basque music again.
I ask, rather incredulously – the celebration continues?
Rather timidly he answers – yes, but not too much.
I go out on the square and see a dozen or so costumed people chasing mostly young ones and hitting them with a foam stick.


No kidding. The kids seem unfazed. I suppose you get used to puppets chasing you with sticks if that’s what happens year in and year out on the village square.

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And the band plays on...


So I have to ask and I really want Marco to look me in the eye for this one. After three nights of music, the kind that they can surely hear in Bormeo and maybe even Bilbao, let alone in the rooms of our little hotel just off the square, are they done celebrating, or will there be more?
Just one more night. But it’s gentler. You’ll see. And it will end earlier. Really. Though after, there will be fireworks.

If you are the type that loves an immersion in local custom, I surely have timed this visit exceptionally well for that. If you are the type that loves quiet, well, there always the hill walks.

And we do one again. 

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setting out

Not really into the hills, but along the undulating countryside at this side of the estuary.  Torturing ourselves (or mostly Ed) with vistas onto the body of water that we cannot cross.


Now, I know these posts have been on the long side. Like a Ginsu knife commercial, I tell Ed. You think it’s a one minute read and hours (it seems) later you kick yourself for having wasted time looking at photos of Mundaka, of all places. (Ed has been playing Ginsu commercials on youtube – the analogy seems apt.) But the time of terribly long posts is rapidly spinning to a close. Indeed, after this upload, I’m going to have to concentrate not on Ocean, but on getting us back to Bilbao, Barcelona, Paris, Detroit and finally Madison – all in the space of two days. We’re back at the farmhouse late Wednesday – and so posting will have to be of the kind that’s on the run. With possible gaps and intermissions.

I’ll be with few words today, too. The Sunday walk was beautiful – the clouds kicked in the butt, retreating inland with a laugh. The hike took many, many hours (we went as far as the third train stop to the north of us -- San Kristobal), but we did have two pauses – one to stare at boats bobbing by the shore...


.... and the second – at a table with a view toward the mountains and hills. At that second pause we had what is so typical here, that I can’t believe we hadn’t had it thus far – a tortilla with patatas – a sort of omelet with potatoes. You see it at every pintxos bar.


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So, a photo hike, with few words:


Q: how many sheep in this picture?

A: Three!

for the goats among you

another goat

old Basque farmhouse

...has this in the entryway

view during snack break

the wave movement near Mundaka is breathtakingly beautiful (tiny dot in bottom right corner is a man wading in the shallow parts)

evening on Mundaka beach

In the many hours of our walk, Ed and I drive each other to tears in our attempts to get the iPhone translator to recognize his pronunciations.
Go ahead, say it! It never works! I say it, it works. He says it. It does not.
Quit with the ‘ey’ sound, I tell him. It’s ‘eh’!  We explode with laughter as he tries again and again, hating it that I get it each time, while he fails. (Any European will have an easier time with pronunciations; I claim no great skill over and beyond what my birth place has handed to me.)


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ready to throw the iPhone into the fields

In the evening, we have trouble with dinner. We have a 10 o’clock reservation at the Casino (good value!) but when we come there, it’s clear that on the Sunday after San Pedro’s, they want to go home early. So we leave without eating.

And there’s a reason why suddenly no one cares about food, about music on the square (the playing did end early...very early). It’s the night of the final game of the Euro 2012 (soccer championships). Spain against Italy. On every screen at every bar in town.


Finally, at the small place we ate the second night (Fonda), we find an agreeable atmosphere. We eat, Spain wins. There. Could we have a better ending?

the great red tomatoes of Spain

And so the feast of San Pedro finally comes to an end, we leave tomorrow and Mundaka returns to the more prosaic routines, except I don’t know what those are because the four days we were here were anything but prosaic or commonplace.

Ah, but the fireworks: aren’t there fireworks? Indeed. Two men are out on the pier and they are fiddling with something on the ground. Getting ready for the fireworks that will close down the (four day!) celebrations of San Pedro. There are a couple of loud bangs, then silence. The people around the harbor, fresh off the victory in soccer, clamor for more. Here’s more: one of the men lights something on the ground and then runs off. We have less than a minute of magic in the sky and then it’s over.

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Bang, bang, bang!  ... done.

On Monday we may get up for a swim across the estuary. You can only attempt this at low tide and low tide comes early in the morning. Or not. Maybe we’ll cavort along the Atlantic before retreating to Bilbao. Most certainly we’ll be in Bilbao for the night. Unless the medusa gets us!