As we get ready for our upcoming tour to Spain’s Basque region, it was pure luck that I ran into Kevin Brown, a teaching assistant at Yale, who knew I was going there and remembered a BBC article he had read that answers a lot of questions about the origins of the Basque people.
Some people think they were hunters because everywhere they have emigrated, they brought with them their skills of shepherding. Adding to their mystique
was their unique language, Euskera, not related to any other language in the world. They have never been conquered and have remained isolated in their little corner of Spain, and a contiguous area of France. This explains in great part their separatist efforts with the Spanish government. The Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, pretty much buttoned them up and kept them under his thumb, or rather, his iron fist. The Picasso painting, Guernica, commemorates their suffering.
The last time we brought a group to Bilbao, I remember the ubiquitous presence of the Spanish police with their mean-looking Uzis. Although they may have lost the military battle ( a recent news article cited the capture of the last 2 remaining separatist guerrilla leaders), they haven’t given up the political struggle for independence, similar to the Catalans.
Anyway we are looking forward to experiencing their wine, food and culture.