The woods were dense with brush and limbs that protruded from the trees in every direction – it was clear no one had wandered back here in many years. Branches reached out and grabbed at their clothes and more than a few times scratched at their skin. Kepa was glad he had worn a hat today – more than a few times he smacked his head against a branch that jotted out at an odd angle.
However, despite the constant battle against the wild flora, the hike was overall pleasant. The temperature was cool and it had been a long time since Kepa had just had a chance to be in the woods, to experience nature in its rawest form with no trail or other sign of human presence. Even back home, when he would go hiking with his dad, they usually followed well-worn paths that had been carved into the ground by the passing of thousands of feet over so many years. Here, the forest was still about as wild as it could be.
Some forty minutes passed as they trudged forward in the direction Kepa had pointed before they reached a small clearing in the forest. At first, it looked empty, but then Maite noticed an overgrowth of vines and plants near one side. Closer inspection revealed the crumbled remains of a wall that had since been taken over by the forest.
“Looks like the remains of a baserri,” said Maite as she tried to pull some of the stubborn plants off the wall with little success.
Kepa nodded. “It must have been abandoned hundreds of years ago.”
He stepped over what he imagined might have been the front door and into the foyer. The floor was covered with plants such that he couldn’t see the foundation. But, in one corner, he saw some old beams. Pulling some of the vines away, he saw the burnt remains of what he guessed must have been joists from the room.
“Looks like it wasn’t just abandoned, but burnt down,” he said as he drew Maite’s attention to the blacked wood.
“Do you think it was an accident, or was it burnt on purpose?”
“Didn’t Marina say that the villagers burned her house down?”
“That’s right,” replied Maite, nodding. “This must be the baserri she grew up in.”
Kepa looked around. There wasn’t much to see and he couldn’t imagine that anything from Marina’s time besides some burnt wood and old stones had survived. What could they possibly learn by being here?
Kepa heard Maite grunting and turned to see her trying to move some of the stones that had piled up in the center of the gutted building. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“We came all this way,” she replied. “Might as well see what we can find.”
Kepa sighed. He knew better than to challenge Maite when she was determined. He looked around and found an old branch that had fallen off a dead tree. He picked it up and used it as a lever to move Maite’s rock. Underneath, there were just more rocks.
Maite shrugged. “Let’s keep looking,” she said. “There has to be something useful around here.”
Kepa hefted his new tool like it was a rifle on his shoulder and dutifully followed Maite around as she explored the remains of the baserri.
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