Mon, 01 Dec 2008


This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Kike in Iruña, a city I really like but had not been able to visit in five years. I spent three days with him, after a really awful Bilman trip during Friday night.

The first thing that happened on Friday morning was quite unexpected. I went out, crossed a pair of streets to get to Carlos III, and going past the corner I found myself surrounded by all kinds of policemen: red, blue, green and yellow. There were press reporters all over the place, with TV and photo cameras ready to record something big. What the hell? I looked around, and there it was: a huge blue sign read Populares de Navarra, and Mariano Rajoy was seconds away from getting out of the new PP headquarters in Nafarroa. With a few dozen policemen looking at me in suspicion, and realising my current hair dress wasn't the most appropriate for that scenario, I decided to disappear as quickly as possible.

Populares aside, the weekend was really productive. I had a great time trying to find the places I visited 9 and 5 years ago. It was sad to see the fantastic Iruñako Gaztetxea turned into an iron building surrounded by old, traditional houses in the centre of the city. With Kike, I had enough time to learn more about the origins of Iruña and the three cities from which it originated, and visit the Ciudadela.

On Saturday, Kike, Ana and I went to have some fun on a snowy day around Orreaga and had dinner in a small town around the area, maybe Lintzoain? I'm afraid I forgot due to the mix of basque names in my head. We had dinner in lo viejo, where I spotted a poster of Solidari@s con Itoiz for the “Itoitz hustu arte” campaign, a copy of which I unsuccessfully tried to get in several places in the city.

On Sunday, Kike and I took a bus to Donosti, and I travelled across the most beautiful highway I've seen. But of course, that was from my perspective seated in a bus. I can imagine the Leitzaran highway project must have been greatly contested by the people of the tiny towns nearby. The spoiled valleys and views must have been really impressive in the past and seem now irreversibly ruined by a scar and holes through the mountains.

This was my first visit to Donosti, which held its annual Marathon, and were lucky to meet our friend Rubén when he was around kilometre 25 of his race. He managed to finish under 2:50, which was a bit better than what he aimed for in his first Marathon. Well done! The weather was horrible, and our visit to La Concha, the old harbour and the Casco Viejo was short, we were freezing and getting our feet wet.

While I visited Donosti for the first time, Mikel Laboa, one of the most respected singers in the basque culture, was ebbing away. Laboa's songs always give me goosebumps, even if I need to read a translation for the basque lyrics. Many will remember his music from Julio Medem's documentary, La pelota vasca, featuring Txoria txori, which has become a symbol of basque culture over the years. Youtube has quite a few videos, and I'd recommend watching Txoria txori, Gure bazterrak, Lili bat or Baga biga higa performed by the Orfeón Donostiarra to name a few.

Mikel Laboa, goian bego.