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Published: February 20th 2008
Tile of Guernica
A tile version of the Guernica painting, sorry i couldnt get a better picture, i was being rushed :/
Aupa everyone! I hope this blog finds you all well 😊
It´s been a very interesting week as far as getting to know the politics of Basque country, as well as getting to know the history of the region, especially after a visit to Guernica and a trip through the rural Basque country side.
Just like back home, elections are coming up in Spain as well and I am finding the Bilbao is a political hotbed of political activity. There are tons of political posters plastered all over the place, and most of the graffiti I have seen seems to be about fighting facism and basque pride. Last Thursday, valentines day, there was a call for a general strike. There are a couple Basque nationalist parties, and one party, the PNV was made illegal because it was somehow linked to the terrorist group ETA. This of course angered the party and there were posters all over the streets calling for a strike. At first I wasn´t sure what to think, but after talking to Asunsion about it, it seemed like it wasn´t too much to worry about. They ended up disturbing the Metro trains which only effected me in the morning,
The Assembly house
This is the assembly house where the representatives from all the Basque communities meet.
and in school they explained to us that PNV members usually go around and make sure businesses close down for the strike usually through threats and intimidation. I guess in the past the strikes and protests have been alot more intense, and at times violent, but Asunsion commented that lately, especially now that Spain has a democracy, the extreme nationalist groups have lost motion. Things which much worse off right after Franco... oh just to try to clarify what nationalist means, basiclly what I have come to understand is that a percentage of the extremist want complete independence, while the majority of this group wants more autonomy.
The following day the program took us on a day trip to Guernica, which is the historic capital of Basque country and also the sight of the tragic bombing which Picasso based his famous painting on
. Guernica is also home to the old oak tree which stands in front of where the old Basque assembly used to meet. The only remains of this old tree is a very old stump, but they planted a tree nearby whith one of it´s acorns. The tree seems to be a really strong symbol in Basque history and many basque people take
The Old Oak Tree
The stump from the old Oak Tree. I think it started being used as a meeting place for the Basque since the 15th century.
acorns with them to plant when they move away from Spain.
Guernica was an amazing experience. I had been reading about the bombing, which was done by the Nazi´s under Franco´s command. The bombing destroyed most of the city leaving only a cathedral, and the assembly house and the oak tree standing. We went to the Museo de la Paz where we learned more about the bombing, but also about other conflicts in the world and ways of evaluating violence in order to find others means of resolving conflicts.
Afterward we went on a drive along the rural coast between Guernica and Bilbao. I was blown away at how beautiful the drive was.. the greenest pastures with a cloud of mist and mountains peeking from above. Sheep, horses, cows moseying around peacefully. We drove to this church which was on the top of a little island, barely connected to land. I guess this is a church sailors and fishermen would go to before heading off. It was another beautiful sight and another place that almost overwhelmed me with it´s own historical significance.
I think visiting Guernica really put where I was exactly in perspective and made me feel like I
New Oak Tree
The baby oak tree growing from an acorn from the old oak tree.
chose an amazing place to live and study in. And I´m finding the more I read about the history of this culture, the more and more I appreciate it.
Other than that.... I think my spanish is getting way better and it´s almost strange for me to speak english now. And this weekend I am traveling to Paris 😊
I hope everyone is great ! and I will update you about Paris soon !
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