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Models for two of the larger finished sculptures.

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Bookending our Basque Country hiking trip with visits to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was not without significance. Upon reflection, it only hit me when I walked the Richard Serra permanent exhibit at the end of our trip. His installation of steel panels that create walkable spirals he named, A Matter of Time. Walking each spiral presents a physical unease that is difficult to overcome but persevering to the end, serves to expand an understanding of one’s relationship to surrounding space. He describes his own intended relationship to viewers as: meaning occurs only through continuous movement, through anticipation, observation, and recollection. What better way to describe our movement through the mountains, villages, beaches, food, tales, culture, and dwellings of Spain’s Basque region! Not that Serra had this in mind, but it sure hit home for me, fresh off a most anticipated adventure! I treasured the observations and recollections of our trip leader, Itziar Zorilla, as she opened our eyes to her country through walking the earth, eating food from this place, and hearing tales centuries old! Of the hundreds of images I captured and recollect as meaningful, here are a few:

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Every day that we were on the trail, Itziar & Ilia prepared a delicious comida that they had carried uphill in their backpacks. Each day a

different food was featured: goat cheese, sheep milk cheese, chorittos, peppers, chorizo, & crispy baguettes. O, yes, and vino, of course!

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Our group heading out for another day of hiking.

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No other feature is ubiquitous to the Basque landscape more than rocks, rocks, & more rocks!

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A primitive shepherd’s house built of what else, rocks! Shepherds live in the lowland villages but in the past hiked to their high

mountain shelters in order to graze their sheep on abundant grass & other vegetation.

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A forest of rocks or a forest of trees? We hiked through the rocks & then into the forest of beech trees!

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Out of low-lying mist we hiked to the dolman of demarcation between Spain & France! Here we are celebrating having a foot in each country!

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Scenes like this took me right to recollections of the Unicorn Tapestries at The Cloisters in New York City where the medieval gardens

must have come straight out of the forests of Basque Country. A beautiful, silent, diminutive horse surprised us along the trail.

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A typical stone farmhouse where we ate a tasty lunch prepared by the owners of this small farm. They were steeping flower blossoms

to make St. John’s Wort medicinal tea/oil to sell in their local market.

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The stairway in my favorite hotel, the Villa de Abalos located in the La Rioja wine region. It was here that we had our

cooking class (which I still have to tell you about in detail)! The owner & his family produce 900 bottles of wine

each year that they share with hotel patrons, other hotels & restaurants in the region.

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Surrounded by stone as we climbed the stairs in Old Town, Hondarribia, the last town on our journey.

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Each morning in San Sebastian, following our hiking trip, we went to breakfast at a local cafe. This dog came with

his owner & was given a treat every morning. As we enjoyed our breakfast of grande cafe con leche, fresh OJ,

& fresh-made churros, we also loved greeting this little dog!

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Luckily, while we stayed in San Sebastian, the annual running of the La Concha Bay sea boat rowing race happened. Eight teams from all over the

northern region participated. It was very exciting & the city was filled with people coming to cheer on their team. When the

first part of the race was over, hundreds of motor boats followed the last row boats to the finish line. Very exuberant & exciting!!

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What a send-off for us!

 

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