Vamos a País Basco

June 8th, 2007

Hola hola hola. We’re currently in a Pensión (a few apartments that are rented out as hotel rooms) in San Sebastián, Spain. Last night was a kind of nutty time with Professional wrestlers in Dublin, which hopefully Ethan will talk about in a future post. Today was a lot of transportation, and a lot of re-learning of Spanish.

The people are extremely friendly and very forgiving of your difficulties with the language, so long as you make it clear that you are trying. We ran into two groups of locals. The first were some people who were graduating from colegio (kind of like high school?) and were pretty drunk. One was much less inebriated and interested in practicing his English — he helped us out quite a bit and taught us about the local scene. In particular, he told us NOT to call it San Sebastián. It’s Donostia, the Basque language name for the city. Also, it’s not Spain. It’s Basque Country. Mixing up these names is almost criminal here.

We left these fellows (well, some of them ran away from us actually) and got some food on our own. After exploring by the water for a while — which is absolutely beautiful — we ran into a bunch of people about our age drinking and fishing by a dock. These guys were extremely friendly and many of them spoke English pretty well.

They were interested in the fact that we were from New York. The first thing that came up was how we felt on 9/11 (they were very empathetic and curious about our reactions). We eventually got around to the US political situation, in particular our thoughts about gun control. They were big fans of Michael Moore.

Probably the coolest part was getting to hear their views of the political situation in the Basque country. Those who we spoke with all wanted independence but were very against achieving it through violence. They were upset that mass Spanish media painted the Basque region as filled with violence, but also regretted ETA’s recent breaking of its ceasefire. These are things you can read about on the BBC but hearing people talk about it firsthand is much, much more informative.

Tomorrow will be much much more exploring, and perhaps we will see the fellows from later last night again. Overall, I am really enjoying this city and am not particularly looking forward to leaving it behind tomorrow night.

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