Thursday, May 08, 2008

From The Philippines to Nabarra

This article describes part of a trip by a journalist from Philippines to Nabarra, it was published by the Sun Star.

Here you have it:

Thursday, May 08, 2008
The Basque Country Tour
By Jinggoy Salvador

Stop 1: Andoain

NORTH of Spain, South of the Bay of Biscay and bordering on France in the northeast, the area is known as Pais Vasco in Spanish and Euskadi in Basque. This is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the green slopes of the Pyrenees, making a rugged coastline and mountainous locale. In the country of Spain, this is said to be the wealthiest community.

The Basque people have preserved unique culture, the jewel of which is its language, Euskera, a pre-Indoeuropean tongue whose mysterious origin has never been established. This was recognized as the official language of the region in 1978.

It is indeed distinctive from the rest of the languages spoken in Spain. There is Spanish, Catalan and then there is Basque. Much like we have here in the Philippines but in Spain, their "language" is spoken with pride, like they come from a different country.

If and ever there is an invitation that come your way, take ma advice, make sure you grab and guard it with your life. It came my way via Chef Mikel Arruiz, I took and I had a blast!

First stop of this Basque tour is my host's hometown -- Andoain. My friend grew up in this town in the province of Gipuzkoa, wotha present population of around 13,000, sad to say, decreasing since 1981.

This lovely small town is located where the Oria River widens, next to the mountains of Belkoain and is recognized by its green areas surrounding the rivers, which are dense forests, very suitable for hiking.

Arriving on the most opportune time makes the visit more worthwhile, it was the feast of Saint John aka San Juan, the town's patron saint. And you know what that means - an all day and all night activity. That includes merrymaking the Spanish way -- vinos and tapas galore!

It was amazing how the townsfolk make sure that they do take part in the celebration. It seems that at a certain age, it is an honor to be part of the presentation.

There were several dances performed during the fiesta, young adults and children were involved. It was amazing - fancy foot works and striking costumes. And most interesting is the Chef's parade. Well, it is said that a number of the best chef's in the globe would come from the Basque Country. I'm proud to know one, my host.

The weather in this part of the country is quite unpredictable. Summer it may be, but in the Pais Vasco's mountainous region, they enjoy the typical summer downpour. During the fiesta, I had a sampling of such phenomenon. But this did not dampen the fiesta spirit a bit- the show must go on.

My hosts did not let me leave not trying the local cuisine. I was able to dine in a quaint restaurant up a hill that used to be a farmhouse. It is now an inn with a small restaurant. And another farmhouse converted into an apple cider making spot and a home-cooking dining area. It was amazing.

And this is only the first stop. More coming your way...

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