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The next morning, earlier than any of them cared for, Edurne took Maite and Kepa to the airport. Before they left, Maite slipped a note under Amaia’s pillow, saying goodbye and hoping to see her soon in the Basque Country. It was still dark out when Edurne pulled up to the airport.
“Are you sure I can’t help you carry your bags in?” she asked for the fifteenth time. “I can park in the garage.”
“Ez, ez, lasai!” responded Maite. “We got it! We don’t have that many bags.”
“Ok,” said Edurne, still unsure. She followed the sign pointing to departures and parked the car. As Kepa grabbed their bags out of the trunk, Edurne gave Maite a big bear hug.
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!
“It was so good to see you!” she said. “We can’t let it be so long until the next time.”
“Ados,” replied Maite. “You have to come visit soon!”
“Well, if you go to Berkeley, you won’t be there for me to visit,” said Edurne with a smile.
A look of doubt flashed in Maite’s eyes. “That’s still a big if,” she finally said. “They may not accept me.”
Edurne let out a good natured laugh. “They would be fools not to. You’ll be the best thing they’ve seen in a while, I’m sure.”
She then turned to Kepa. “You take good care of her out there.”
Kepa smiled. “Oh, I will. I’ll make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble, at least not until after her interview.”
Edurne gave Kepa a squeeze. “It was good to meet you.”
“Berdin,” replied Kepa.
Edurne gave Maite one last hug. “He’s a keeper, you know,” she whispered into her cousin’s ear.
Maite smiled as she whispered back. “I know.”
“Ikusi arte!” called Edurne as she climbed back into her car and drove away.
The flight to California was relatively uneventful. Maite claimed the window seat and put on her headphones, putting some final touches on the talk she was going to give as part of her interview. Kepa sat next to her in the middle seat. To his left, in the aisle seat, sat an older gentleman. Kepa had pulled out a book and had begun reading when the man interrupted him.
“Where are you from?”
“The Basque Country,” replied Kepa.
“Where?” asked the man.
“The Basque Country,” repeated Kepa. “In Spain. Why do you ask?”
“I just noticed that your book wasn’t in English, so I was curious. So, you are Basque?” he said excitedly.
“I’ve heard about you guys! Aren’t you the long-lost descendants of Atlantis?”
Kepa sighed as he tried to explain the history of the Basques and the Basque Country, but every time he debunked one theory, the man brought up another.
“What about Adam and Eve? Isn’t Basque the language that was spoken in the Garden of Eden?”
“Aren’t you all really aliens?”
“What about being Neandertals? That one has to be true, doesn’t it?”
By the end of the flight, Kepa was wishing he had pretended not to understand English at all.