Goodness from October 17-23, 2011
Monday: a spoonful of powdered chocolate sinking into milk for breakfast
Tuesday: the sea
Wednesday: “Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons
Thursday: She and I, sprawled on the floor, gripped by grammar, trying to make sense of our language to explain it to the other
Friday: passionate debates
Saturday: manly men with tiny, fluffy dogs
Sunday: highly coordinated bicyclists holding umbrellas
Do you know what it means for a girl from Wisconsin to live by the sea?
Surely this body of life will be the focus of many excerpts to come, as it’s the heart of this town and the center of my joy as well. The sea is the most spectacular, most constant and changing. It’s the frankest and the most extravagant: the prettiest, fiercest, most superlative thing in the world and I live by its side.
I live in Zarautz, a quaint yet active beach town on the Bay of Biscay in Northeastern Spain. Geographically, it’s about 25 miles from the French border, nine from the stunning city of San Sebastián-Donostia, and an hour drive from Bilbao.
Located in the bilingual Basque region, natives call Zarautz by the official Basque (Euskera) name: Zarauz. Perhaps one ignored ‘t’ seems not a noteworthy difference, but Basques discuss their language as much as folks in my hometown discuss the weather. To them, it is different.
Legally, the Basque Country is an autonomous community of Spain, identical to 16 other communities carving out the country. Internally, they’re a people all their own, and most Vascos object to being called Spanish. In fact no one I’ve met and have asked accept the broader Spanish title, including every one of my students.
It’s a justifiable separation, and interesting, but I’ll explain the relationship between País Vasco and España in coming weeks. Currently my mind is wrapped up in these dreamy surroundings.
Zarautz is a gem. They say it’s calm now, but the 22,000 full-time residents are a lively bunch. They spend their free time strolling, biking and boarding down the malecón with unleashed dogs, pretty babies and ice cream cones. They tell me too, the population triples in summer, as do prices, and Zarautz transforms into an endless outdoor fiesta – con mucha marcha. For now my apartment complex is 2/3 silent and I’ve nearly 3km of coastline to myself.
I like to buy snacks from the boardwalk shops and watch the waves roll and crash over themselves and the surfers. I like to climb the mountain towards Getaria to saunter through Txakoli vineyards and watch the waves swell from above. They grow and glide like musical vibrations in slow motion, then rise up and swallow the great mass in front of it. A mouth full of water, the waves tousle in chaos, then smooth out at the shore recomposed.
Remember when I said I could be dust of that other town and be happy? Soria, La Gloria, your anthem holds true, and I’ll never forget your red roads, red lips, flushed cheeks, bloody streets, but I think eventually my ashes would seek the Northern Winds to carry me here, to countless shades of blue.
What I’m saying is, I like it here.