Sept. 9, 2022 – Bilboa to Guernica

We drove to Guernica from Bilbao today.

The countryside is very hilly and covered in forests of Sycamore, Pine and the invasive and destructive Eucalyptus trees. The country is trying to rid itself of the Australian invader but it is a difficult job. They soak up all the water needed by other trees and kill the natural forests here.

The land is rugged with hardly any room exists between the hills for a road. The road we are on now was built just thirty years ago or so. It is a beautiful wilderness with few people living here. I can see why it is so difficult to conquer and control. To get an army up here would be nearly impossible.

The Basque Language is very old and its origin is shrouded in mystery.

It is not related to Spanish and sounds very different to the ear. I do find some words that I can understand, but not as many as in Brazil.

This northern area of Spain has long been at odds with the central government. The Spanish Cicil War was fought to free Spain form the grips of Franco, but the central government is little concerned with the Basque area which is looking for its independence.

The different states of Spain send tax money to the central government and then get some back in services and the like, but this a distant and difficult place to reach at best and the central government is little concerned with the separatists.

That war was the precursor to WW ll. it gave the Nazis a chance to practice with their aircraft, planning and technology before the beginning of WW ll.

The Nazis bombed Guernica and killed many civilians to the delight of Franco. Spain was neutral in WW ll.

If you are not familiar with Picasso’s painting “Guernica,” take some time and see and read about it. It was banned from Spain for as long as Franco lived.

The E.T.A. was a violent Basque group which used violence to try to gain their independence from Spain. They also killed many civilians while trying to further their cause against the government of Spain with warfare and violence.

The Spanish Constitution doesn’t allow the individual states to leave the federation of Spain. My understanding is that the relationships are less close than those of the states in the U.S. It seems to be like the E.U. rather than one territory or country. I may be wrong but that is the sense I had after listening to our guide. This state is remote and difficult to reach. That is what I can see here, so far, anyway.

Fighting a war is always expensive, dangerous and leaves angry parties on many sides. Resentment and mistrust remains here on both sides of this issue in Spain.

People from the north sometimes have their cars damaged when they go south on vacation or to see a soccer game as their language and accent makes it clear where they are from. The same happens in the north to those from the south.

Things seem quiet now but for how long is anyone’s guess. The younger generation in the north didn’t see the last war and are anxious for freedom from Spain and violence seems a possibility again.

Basque issues and time will reveal that that the same issues of language and cultural divide still exists here within the younger generation. Sadly history does repeat itself. Nothing has changed and The Basque are a proud and self sufficient people.

We are in a beautiful area facing the Bay of Biscay and housing can be expensive here overlooking the water and seaside.

We took a very interesting trip across the River Nervion on a ferry today. Mr. Eiffel built a gondola that carries several cars and pedestrians low over the surface of the river. The flat bed carries the many cars as it is suspended by wires from a frame high above it. It is an unusual contraption.

One can also walk across the frame 150 feet high above the river if you have that desire. We were going to, but the walkway was closed for some reason. Both sides of the car platform are covered to protect the pedestrians from rainy weather.

Notice the two ways of spelling under the mosaic. They are Spanish and Basque.

This is a beautiful and interesting land.

Notice the people in the rear on the right side. These are huge slabs of steel.

By Picaso, of course!