Thursday, September 20, 2012

SPAIN: Pasajes revisited

Pasaia looking from San PedroOne of my favourite days out in the San Sebastian area was walking the narrow channel leading from Pasajes (Pasaia in the Basque language) out to the ocean. On each side of the channel are the areas known as San Pedro and San Juan. When I first tripped over this area, on a warm November weekend I took Bondi out along the pathways on each side of the water-way. There’s a lot of interesting buildings early in the walk, but once free of those it was more the paths of memory, somewhat independent of time, that stuck with me.

Pasajes is only a few minutes off the highway home, maybe fifteen minutes short of the French border. Symbolically it was a good place to stretch our legs after traversing the mountains into northern Spain. 

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We parked on the western San Pedro side and caught a small paid launch over to the other side. I think it was mainly used to get people to the Victor Hugo Museum on the other side – he’d only stayed there for a few days but was impressed enough to call the dark thread of buildings overlooking the water a “little radiant Eden”.
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To be honest I find the inhabited section of the walk rather unwelcoming, as if the locals would prefer that visitors stayed away. Surrounding the multilingually friendly museum (which draws mostly French visitors), the cafes and so on are forcefully Basque-only, making it hard to even order a drink when you don’t have something to point to. A lady came up to talk about Munson, but I couldn’t figure out what she was saying. I tried to clarify in Spanish but she insisted on Euskera, making it impossible to do anything but smile and shrug. As I noted in an earlier post, regional identity is much stronger than national identity in this part of the world.
Munson has a dipOnce past this area, the scenery is timeless, the air fresh, everything is removed from the temporal concerns that knot lives in identities outside our skin. The waters along here are alive with squirming shoals of fish, often gathered around waste-water pipes. The tide was lower than on my last visit, exposing intricately weathered sandstone rocks on the shore. Denied a swim in Portugal, this was Munson’s moment to take one last plunge into the Atlantic.

fort dancing across the sand
Munson on the Pasajes crossingeven the walk sign is too weary to continue We didn’t walk all the way out on the narrower pathway to the sea as I had done before; Gustav and Munson were happy to respectively poke among the rockpools and leap about like a car-confined fool.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I live in Spain and had never heard of this place before. I'll try to take my schnauzer there next summer..