The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 121

De Lancre’s suite was at the top of the tower and it took Kepa and Latxe a long time make their way up. The nanobots were efficient at making stairs and openings for them where none had existed before, but the two would-be rescuers were extra cautious after their encounter with the security guard and make sure to check every opening and hallway for others. 

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

“For such a large building, it is remarkably empty,” noted Kepa as they climbed what felt like the hundredth set of stairs.

Latxe nodded. “I sometimes wonder if these big towers exist only to give those in power a high perch from which to scan their realm.”

“Like the kings and queens of old, eh?”

Latxe nodded again. “Precisely. For all of our technological advances, we still can’t root out the desire for power. Or how power corrupts.”

Latxe sighed. “How is it during your time? What is life like back then?”

Kepa chuckled. “Not too much different, at least in terms of people wanting power. We of course don’t have all of the marvels you do, and we are in a bit of an existential crisis, with climate change and the impact on our environment.” 

He paused a moment as he poked his head out from the opening at the top of the stairs. He scanned left and then right. The hallway, like so many before, was dark. He climbed the rest of the way out and reached out a hand to Latxe. She smiled as she took it and pulled herself up.

“But, it is good to know that some of those problems have been solved,” he continued.

“I remember reading about the climate problem in school,” said Latxe. “For someone today, it is inconceivable that we let things get so bad that it threatened the very existence of the planet.”

Kepa shrugged. “As a species, we can be pretty short-sighted.”

Latxe laughed, and the melodic tone of her laughter made Kepa smile. And then blush. He turned away, pretending to examine the darkness down the hall. He felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t fret so much,” said Latxe. “I like you, and maybe in another world you and I could, you know, be together. But I know that, in this one, your heart belongs to Maite.”

“In another world,” Kepa mused. He hadn’t told Latxe about the zatiak and the bubble. He couldn’t bear to think about how he might be extinguishing her life, her history, when they pop the bubble. He kept telling himself that this bubble wasn’t real, it wasn’t the real time line, and that she had another life that maybe was better than this one. Maybe.

Latxe smiled, thinking Kepa was considering that what if scenario. She looked at her tablet.

“We are very near Salazar’s floor,” she said. “Only one or two more to go before we reach them.”

Suddenly, the lights burst to life, nearly blinding them in their intensity.

“Oh,” said a voice at the end of the hall. “Don’t worry, you’ve already found me.”

If you get this post via email, the return-to address goes no where, so please write blas@buber.net if you want to get in touch with me.

Basque Fact of the Week: The Mondragón Corporation

I have hesitated to do a Fact on the Mondragón Corporation, the world-renowned cooperative in the heart of Gipuzkoa, simply because I didn’t think I could do it justice. It’s just felt too big and important that, I admit, I was a bit intimidated. However, The New Yorker recently did a nice piece on what is probably the most famous cooperative in the world. I direct you there to get a true appreciation of what Mondragón is – the culture, the impact it has had on its employees and the region. Here, I’ll just give brief synopsis of the corporation – just the facts, if you will.

Mondragon, from their website.
  • Mondragón (Arrasate in Euskara) is a city in the middle of Gipuzkoa where about 22,000 people live. José María Arizmendiarrieta, a priest from Markina-Xemein in Bizkaia, arrived 1941. Seeing the lingering poverty in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, he established a technical college, training and educating students and selecting the most promising to pursue degrees in engineering.
  • The first company of the cooperative, founded in 1955, was Talleres ULGOR, a name derived from the surnames of the five men who founded it: Usatorre, Larrañaga, Gorroñogoitia, Ormaechea, and Ortubay. Today, the company is known as today as Fagor Electrodomésticos.
  • From there, the cooperative expanded greatly, filling needs of its members. In 1958, the Spanish government determined that the workers of the cooperative were not eligible to participate in the Spanish social security system. In response, Arizmendiarrieta created by a pension and a healthcare system, both as new coops. He also organized a bank to serve the members’ financial needs.
  • The system works with the philosophy that each co-op is owned by the workers. All worker-owners vote to elect a governing council which then picks a managing director. (Note every worker is an owner, a reality that has grown with time.) Further, the largest salary can only be about six times as great as the lowest (it varies from coop to coop, but the largest difference is nine-to-one). This differential has increased over the original three-to-one ratio, as the Corporation tries to compete in a global economy.
  • The Corporation has production plants in other countries, the first in Mexico. Today, they have more than 140 such plants operating in 37 different countries.
  • Today, the Mondragón Corporation is the tenth largest company in Spain. It employs some 80,000 people in 95 individual cooperatives and 14 research and development centers. Its products are sold in more than 150 countries. They have activities across four broad categories: Finance, Industry, Retail, and Knowledge. In 1997, they founded the Mondragon Unibertsitatea which now has 5000 students in a wide range of fields including engineering, education, communications, business management, entrepreneurship and food science.

Primary sources: Mondragon Corporation, Wikipedia; Mondragon Corporation; How Mondragon Became the World’s Largest Co-Op, The New Yorker

Francisco Carriedo???

Hey friends of Buber’s Basque Page! I got a query about Francisco Carriedo and if I knew anything about the man. He was a military officer who served as Capitan General of the Philippines back in early 1700s. He was the benefactor who supported the creation of Manila’s water system. But, that’s all I could find on internet.

His descendants are trying to find out more about the man – where he came from, what his life was like, etc. If you know of any sources that discuss Francisco in any depth, please let me know or post here.

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 120

Kepa watched as Latxe’s fingers swiped around on the surface of her tablet, trying to figure out what the strokes might mean, but they were incomprehensible to him. She might as well have been waving her hands in the air, casting some kind of magic spell, for all it meant to him.

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

When she was done, stairs started materializing in the space in front of them, growing almost organically out of the floor and the ceiling until the two halves met perfectly in the middle. At the same time, a small opening appeared in the ceiling at the top of the stairs.

While Kepa had seen the nanobots create doors out of nothing before, this was a whole new level. He couldn’t help stare at the stairs in front of him. He ran his hand along the smooth surface. There was no seam or anything where the two halves joined. He would never have been able to tell where they met. 

“These nanobots are so amazing,” he said. “I never would have believed something like this could be possible. It’s almost like magic.”

Latxe looked at him. “Look,” she began. “You keep saying things like that, being amazed at things that anyone from here would simply take for granted.” Her eyes almost turned cold as she looked at him. “Who are you? Where are you from, really?”

Sweat started beading on Kepa’s brow. Latxe was the one friend he had in this bubble, and his one hope of rescuing Maite. He couldn’t afford to alienate her. “The United States?” he asked more than answered.

Latxe threw up her hands. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. For all I know, you work for him,” she said as she gestured vaguely to the ceiling above them. “I don’t know what you’ve done to Olatz, what kind of threat you made to her, but I’m done with this.” Latxe turned away from him and began swiping at her tablet.

“Ez!” exclaimed Kepa. “No!” His shoulders slumped. “I’ll tell you.” 

Latxe turned back to face him, her fingers paused above the screen, her face expectant.

“I’m from the past,” began Kepa as he more fell than sat on the stairs. “Maite is too.”

“The past?” exclaimed Latxe incredulously. “You expect me to believe in time travel? Of all of the bullshit I’ve heard, this tops it all.”

“Seriously,” replied Kepa. “We’re from the early twenty-first century. We’re here to retreive a magical artifact…”

“Time travel and magic?” interrupted Latxe. “What next? Are you going to tell me we are all part of some computer game controlled by some kid in his mother’s basement? That none of this is real?”

“It’s real,” replied Kepa with a tinge of guilt. “But so is the magic.” He held out his hand, palm up. His brow furrowed as he focused on his hand. It started to glow, only slightly at first, growing in intensity and brightness until Latxe had to look away.

“What the hell was that?” she asked as spots danced in her vision.

“Magic,” said Kepa. 

Latxe shook her head. “No, I don’t believe it. It has to be some new nanobot trick. And you keep acting like you don’t know what the nanobots are.”

“What the hell?” exclaimed a voice from above. “Where did this hole come from?”

The face of a woman peered into the hole. “Who the hell are you two? How did you get in? Central,” she began, “there are… ah!”

Kepa had thrown his hand up and released a flash of light that took the woman by surprise, blinding her. He rushed up the stairs as the woman staggered back, covering her mouth before she could alert her colleagues. Latxe followed him up, and helped him tie the woman up. 

“Magic, huh?” asked Latxe as she pulled on the knot of the gag that covered the woman’s mouth.

Kepa nodded sheepishly. “Bai.”

If you get this post via email, the return-to address goes no where, so please write blas@buber.net if you want to get in touch with me.

Reasons, a Poem by Harkaitz Cano, Translated by Elizabeth Macklin

The New Yorker recently published the poem Reasons, by Basque poet Harkaitz Cano. Actually, they published the translation by Elizabeth Macklin, but on their site you can also find an audio clip of both reading the poem. I’m copying the translated version below. I admit, I’m not much of a poetry reader, not really having read much since forced to in school, but this one resonates with me. And, it was cool to see Elizabeth’s work in The New Yorker. 🙂

Reasons

By Harkaitz Cano,
translated by Elizabeth Macklin

15 REASONS TO REMAIN SILENT

Because I have nothing to say.
Because, though I’ve got plenty to say, you’re not paying attention.
Because I’d rather listen to what you’re saying.
So as not to talk to myself.
So as not to talk to the wall.
So as not to talk to the crack in the wall.
So as not to waken the cricket who lives in the crack in the wall.
Because they’ve sealed my lips with honey.
Because I’m kissing you.
Because I’m sulking.
Because I’m sulking and I’m kissing you.
Because I like to remain silent.
Because our breath is speaking all on its own.
Because I’m keeping a secret larger than words.
Because my heart is in my mouth.

15 Reasons to Yell

Because you haven’t let out a yell in ages.
To make sure all your vowels are still in their proper places.
Because you’re alone and in desperate need of an echo.
To measure the height of a Gothic cathedral.
To cheer on an Italian cyclist.
To shoo off a grouchy mouse.
So they hear you from the last row of the theatre.
So they hear you from the other side of the creek.
So the fishes caught in the fish trap hear you.
When you’re in water up to your neck, to call for a ring buoy.
To measure the depth of a bottomless well.
To invite the wolves to your birthday party.
So everyone knows that yelling is not so easy.
Because some others are unable to yell.
So that the woods will learn your name.

Basque Fact of the Week: The San Sebastián International Film Festival

The 70th edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival began on Friday and runs through this week. Donostia Zinemaldia, as it is known in Basque, has been a showcase of some of the best of the film industry since 1953. Some of the most recognized names in cinema have appeared on the festival’s red carpet.

The official poster of the 70th edition of Donostia Zinemaldia, featuring Juliette Binoche. From the festival’s website.
  • The festival began in 1953. At first, it was intended to only honor Spanish language films, but in 1955 it was opened to a larger selection of films, specializing in recognizing color films. In 1957, it obtained an ‘A’ rating from the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, one of fourteen festivals to get this rating. The festival briefly lost this accreditation from 1980-1984, but regained it again in 1985.
  • The festival was created to extend Donostia’s summer season, to give people a reason to stay in the city longer. Franco was supportive, as he thought it would present a friendlier face of his regime to the world. However, his regime banned certain films. It wasn’t until 1977, after Franco’s death, that all films could be considered.
  • Donostia Zinemaldia has seen its fair share of history. The famous Hitchcock film Vertigo made its premier at the festival with Hitchcock in attendance. That same year, Kirk Douglas and James Stewart tied for best male performance. And films such as Star Wars and Jaws made there European premier here too. Both Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were at the festival for the premier of Star Wars.
  • The best picture award is named the Golden Shell (Urrezko Maskorra in Euskara). Clearly the award is named after La Concha, the iconic beach of Donostia. The first winner of the Golden Shell was La guerra de Dios. The last three winners were Blue Moon (Crai Nou) (2021), Beginning (Dasatskisi) (2020), and Pacified (Pacificado) (2019). The last film made in the United States to win the Golden Shell was The Disaster Artist in 2017. The best lead or supporting performance and best director, the award is the Silver Shell (Zilarrezko Maskorra).
  • In 1986, the Donostia Award (Donostia Saria) was created to honor luminaries in the film industry. The first winner of this award was Gregory Peck, while Juliette Binoche and David Cronenberg have been honored this year.
  • Basque films have been repeatedly recognized by the festival, including four films – Letters from Alou (Las carts de Alou), Butterfly Wings (Alas de Mariposa), Running Out of Time (Días contados), and Bwana – winning the Golden Shell in the 1990s. And, since 1997, the festival has hosted Basque Film Day, showcasing local films. Amidst criticism that the festival didn’t do enough to promote Basque cinema, in 2009 Zinemira was created to screen and promote Basque movies along with the Zinemira award to highlight the career of a Basque film personality.

Primary sources: Roldán Larreta, Carlos. Festival de San Sebastián. Auñamendi Encyclopedia. Available at: https://aunamendi.eusko-ikaskuntza.eus/en/festival-de-san-sebastian/ar-65485/; San Sebastián International Film Festival, Wikipedia

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 119

Maite had entered her pod with the hope of getting some rest and taking her mind off of de Lancre and his obvious attempts to get into her good graces. She found it hard, however, to truly relax without the familiar comfort of a blanket that she could pull over her head. Simply standing in this mechanical tube, no matter how refreshed she felt when she woke up, wasn’t the same. And she always woke up with a strange itching sensation all over her body.

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

The tube would normally emit some kind of gentle mist that had the effect of making her drowsy. Before the mist came, Maite canceled the tube’s sleep routine and stepped out into her room. Lights at her feet came on automatically, lighting her way. Lights also appeared in front of her, almost like the beam of a flashlight, but followered her gaze as she looked around. She shook her head, momentarily causing the lights to shake violently across the wall before they equilibrated. She sighed. Sometimes, she thought, technology makes things more difficult, not less.

She opened her door and stepped outside. While she was technically de Lancre’s prisoner, he knew she had no where to go so didn’t confine her to her room. She stepped through the dining room and out to the balcony. While the city was nearly unrecognizable from her own version of Bilbao, she still found comfort in gazing over the wonderous skyline. She even recognized some of the mountains in the distance. She gave herself a small hug as she thought about her ama and aita back at home. Though she missed them, she knew she would see them again. The bubble had to pop some time, didn’t it? It couldn’t last forever. Even if it was centuries after she died, if anyone found that zatia and popped the bubble, she would return to her own time.

She cursed de Lancre for not popping the bubble of this timeline. She didn’t even care if he collected the zatia for himself and got its power. Keeping these bubbles going when he had the power to pop them, to end the disruption to all of these lives, how could he be so damn selfish?

Maite looked down at the ground below her. Even though it was the middle of the night, she could see people moving between buildings and hanging out in the street, almost as many people as there were during the daytime. She wondered if any of them ever slept. With the tube, maybe the human body didn’t need to sleep so much. And she suspected it also helped clear away toxins from alcohol so there were little after effects of drinking too much. The future had become one long gau pasa.

Watching the people, almost like ants from her view, Maite realized that these people had lives too. Yes, they were part of this bubble and, because of that, they weren’t living the lives they were intended to live, but they were still living their lives. Who was she, or de Lancre, or Marina, to pop their existance away? Was there no other way of collecting the zatiak and preventing de Lancre from becoming so powerful than to end the trajectories of so many lives?

But, at the same time, all of these people had parallel lives, in the main timeline, that they were also living. At what point did they become a different enough person that they deserved to live their own lives? What about babies and children that were born in this bubble? Maybe they never existed in the regular timeline. What about them?

Maite shivered, not so much from the cold but from the unsettling thoughts that clouded her mind. She really wished Kepa were here to hold her. He’d have something clever to say to put her mind at ease. Feeling defeated, Maite wandered back to her room and welcomed the numbing mist that enveloped her.

If you get this post via email, the return-to address goes no where, so please write blas@buber.net if you want to get in touch with me.

Basque Fact of the Week: Napoleon’s Nephew was a Linguist who Studied Basque

How does an aristocrat – a man born into privilege and titles, the nephew of one of the most powerful leaders of Europe – become one of the most important researchers of the Basque language? Louis Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew, extensively studied the regional variations of Euskara, establishing a critical map of the dialects. While he also studied other languages, including the Celtic languages, his work on Euskara was particularly profound and seminal.

Portrait of Louis Lucien Bonaparte, found at man8rove.com.
  • Bonaparte was born in England – in Thorngrowe – in 1813. His father, Lucien, was Napoleon‘s brother and found himself in England after an unsuccessful attempted escape to the United States. His mother, Alexandrine de Bleschamp, was a French aristocrat. When Napoleon abdicated the first time, Lucien took his family back to the mainland and was made Prince of Canino, in Italy. Thus, Louis Lucien spent his childhood in Italy. After a brief stint in the French National Assembly, Louis Lucien moved to London (some time after 1852), where he lived most of his life.
  • Bonaparte initially studied chemistry and mineralogy – the study of the properties of minerals – having written nearly 140 publications by the time he was 53. However, from our perspective, he is most interesting for his study of the Basque language.
  • Bonaparte first traveled to the Basque Country in 1856. He was received by Anton Abadia and, indeed, that same year he presided over the Basque festival organized by Abadia, even giving a speech in Euskara. In fact, it was likely Abadia, maybe sometime before 1847, who introduced Bonaparte to the Basque people, language, and culture. Indeed, in 1847 Bonaparte published his first work on linguistics, which included Basque. In all, Bonaparte made five separate trips to the Basque Country to perform his research.
  • Bonaparte built a network of collaborators who helped him in his studies of the Basque language and its dialects – the euskalkiak. He had them translate the Bible into the various dialects and he himself traveled the Basque Country to learn about the dialects personally. He published Le Verbe Basque en Tableaux, which describes the variations of verbs in Euskara and was an authoritative guide of the language for a century. The extent of his efforts and the impact they have had are nicely described in this talk by Pello Salaburu. He published his works at his own expense, including a color map of the regions in which the various Basque dialects were spoken.
  • He himself was fluent in multiple dialects of Euskara and amazed his companions with his ability to pick up new dialects. He became fluent in Gipuzkoan after only a few months. At one point they reached the Roncal valley, which had such a strong and rare dialect that other Basque speakers couldn’t understand it. Such were Bonaparte’s talents and facility with language that, within three days, he was able to start conversing with the locals in their dialect.
  • After his first wife, Maria Anna Cecchi, died in 1891, he married Clemencia Richard Grandmontagne, a native of Tardets, Zuberoa, and the sister-in-law of the Basque poet Claudio Otaegui. He had actually been living with Clemencia for many years before, having separated from Maria in 1850. Indeed, as discussed by Salaburu, Clemencia herself aided Bonaparte in his efforts to understand the Basque language, as she spoke the language and had many contacts in the Basque Country. He died that same year – 1891 – in Italy.

Primary sources: Estornés Lasa, Bernardo. Bonaparte, Louis-Lucien (1813-1891). Auñamendi Encyclopedia. Available at: https://aunamendi.eusko-ikaskuntza.eus/en/bonaparte-louis-lucien-1813-1891/ar-32829/; Louis Lucien Bonaparte, Wikipedia;

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