After finishing up in Germany, I took a couple of days to visit Euskadi to see my dad’s family. It was only a couple of days, but any chance I can get to visit Euskadi is always worth it. As I flew in, I had a wonderful view of the Basque coast. The picture is of the coast around Donostia, the city I lived in when I studied Basque and Spanish. My cousin Ander picked me up from the airport and took me to the town of my dad, Munitibar.
Almost immediately upon landing, I met up with a good friend, Jon, and he took me to the fiesta in Aulesti. Aulesti is a small town near Munitibar, but I understand that its fiesta is quite well known, especially for the region. My dad remembers walking to the fiesta from Munitibar. I must be a lazy American, since I couldn’t imagine walking through the mountains from Munitibar to Aulesti. One thing that has changed since the time of my dad is the music. The headlining act at the fiesta was Gatibu, who are a hard rock band. In the Basque Country, music comes in typically two flavors: folk or hard rock/heavy metal. Gatibu was very good, especially live. I need to try to find a CD of theirs to check them out more.
We were in Aulesti until 4 AM. If you haven’t been to a Basque fiesta, you typically hop from bar to bar, getting a little bit of beer (called a zurito) or a little bit of wine. Just enough to wet your whistle, before moving on to the next bar. And you do this all night. The plaza of Aulesti was full of people, hopping bars and listening to the music. I ran into my cousin Amaia there as well. I can’t imagine living in the town during the fiesta; it would be impossible to sleep, the music was so loud!
I spent Saturday relaxing before continuing on the fiesta at Aulesti on Sunday. The flavor was completely different on Sunday. We drove to Aulesti and then hiked up to a little valley at the foot of a hermitage. There, a couple of bars were set up and people mingled and drank. There was a little dancing and an irintzi contest. There was also a small demonstration. It seems that the main political point made these days in the demonstrations is to get Basque prisoners closer to home so that their families can more easily visit them. I think that was the point of the demonstration. It was a very calm event, with people just gathering and waving their ikurrinas.
After Aulesti, it was time to visit with family and then head on to the next stop: England.