This weekend I went to Basque country: Euskadi in the Basque language. Euskadi has some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. It is a lush green area with lots of industry and beautiful men.
I spent Friday afternoon/night in Palencia and then left with my friend the priest for San Sebastian (three and a half hours by car). Once in San Sebastian we stayed with my friend’s cousin. San Sebastian is a beautiful expensive city in the province Donostia (it is said to be the most expensive city in Spain). It is a Northern coastal city famous for its tapas and gorgeous beaches. It has a more modern feel to it than the other places I have visited in Spain.
This weekend was full of wonderful experiences and I couldn’t stop smiling. I went to an extremely modern Catholic church built by a famous architect whose name I can’t remember or find. I drank beer on the beach and watched guys my age show off their “gymnastic” talents. I learned the Basque words for father (ita) and goodbye (agur). I ate sea worms (no pictures unfortunately), Turkish food and Senegalese food. I had conversations about topics as far apart as my faith, the differences between Moroccan and Spanish cultures, animals in FL, and how ugly Orlando is. I spent the entire weekend without internet access. I met people from Chile, Gambia, and Senegal. I spent over an hour scribbling Spanish and English words on a napkin talking about the differences/similarities between the two languages. I drove through Bilbao at night. I learned the Spanish words for fart, spiders, ghosts and peacocks. I was mistaken for a Spaniard. I was called guapa, hija, bonita, and moja. I was asked (jokingly) if my mother or I had cooked peacocks before. I exchanged contact info with an art professor whose wife is from a town near Aguilar and whose daughter is teaching Spanish at Purdue University. I dined in a Gastronomic Society that is traditional of Basque country – women weren’t allowed in the kitchen. I also dined in the apartment of two men (from Gambia and Senegal) who have no birth certificates/passports and thus cannot work here in Europe and are receiving help from the church until they figure out what they can do. I got rained on and felt like I was home. I had my first super duper awkward traditional Spanish greeting kiss (fortunately with someone I will never see again). I was given a tour of the outsides of almost every discoteca in Palencia. The only English I spoke was with a man from Gambia who was excited to share with me that he knew English.
My friend the priest goes to a monastery sometime this week to try out the lifestyle for a month. I most likely won’t see him again during my time in Spain because his month won’t end until I have already left. I am so grateful to him for everything he has shown me in Spain. He has helped me to see that not all of Spain is fiestas and tourism – that here there are a lot of people that are struggling and that immigration is not something that goes smoothly. My Moroccan friends (who I met through the priest) have reminded of me of how easy my life has been in the US – how much we really have.