Buber’s Basque Story: Part 32

Kepa and Maite stood in line to board the ferry to Liberty Island. In front of them, beyond the throng of people also waiting in line, they could see the Statue of Liberty. Whenever Kepa turned around, he saw the massive skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. He couldn’t wait until tonight, when they would hit Times Square and then the show. 

Edurne, who had taken the afternoon off to guide them through the city, stood next to them, staring across the water at the Statue of Liberty. “It always takes my breath away, you know,” she said, to neither of them in particular. “I always wonder what it would have been like, to be one of those young Basque boys or girls that were coming across the ocean to find a better life. Not knowing English, not having any family to greet you.” She shook her head. “It’s almost overwhelming to think about.”

Buber’s Basque Story 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!

“I imagine it must have been exciting and frightening at the same time,” replied Maite. “Seeing that statue rise out of the water as your ship got close must have been inspiring.”

“Your parents didn’t pass through here?” asked Kepa.

“Inola ere ez, no way,” replied Edurne. “By the time they came over, they just flew to where they needed to go. I think you have to go pretty far back when people passed through here when they arrived in the United States.”

As the gates to the ferry opened, they made their way onto the deck, Edurne taking them to a prime spot against the rail to see both the Statue of Liberty as they approached but also the Manhattan skyline behind them. After the last passengers got on the ferry, it slowly turned, plowing through the water toward Liberty Island. The Statue of Liberty loomed above them as they got closer. 

“It’s not as big as I expected,” remarked Kepa. 

Edurne laughed. “No, I guess not. But, I imagine if you were a young Basque crossing the ocean for the first time, it must have looked pretty impressive.”

“I think these days,” added Maite, “we are so bombarded with ‘spectacular’ things that we lose a sense of scale.”

Edurne nodded as the ferry docked at the island. “Time to get off,” she said as she led the three of them toward the exit. “We’ll take a look at the Statue and the museum and then take the ferry to see Ellis Island.” 

They strolled along the pathway encircling the Statue, it’s large patina form towering above them. 

“It’s still pretty damn impressive,” said Maite as they stopped in front of the statue, its benevolent face gazing across the waters behind them. 

All Kepa could do was nod in agreement.

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