Tuesday 23 April 2013

o : Pamplona

Calle Monasterio de Urdax

Dear o,

You asked for it.

Day 1.  Rose at 6am.  Packed the rest of our Parisian life into bags, folders, baskets and loose armloads.  Shook our landlord’s hand in lieu of cheek-kisses and told him of our trip; he said we were not allowed to call it a trip anymore – it is an adventure.  Hauled the stuff to the truck parked a few minutes away and realised (again) that we have brought too much.  Blocked a one-way road getting croissants and baguettes from an 18th arrondissement boulangerie.  Got on the Périphérique and turned towards Bordeaux.  Noticed the engine’s rumbling between 80 and 110 km/h had become worse in the past weeks.  Made it to San Sebastian by 7pm.  Got stuck in an underground parking lot that we thought might just fit us in.   Got out with the accompaniment of scratching sounds above.  Went for tapas with my aunt and uncle.  Didn’t give them a ride back to our shared lodging because we had too much stuff in the back two seats.  Drove over the bottles containing waterfleas.  Spent an hour searching for the hotel and paid the same motorway toll twice.  Slept.

Day 2.  Rose at 8am.  Drove my aunt and uncle into San Sebastian, noticed the engine’s rumbling between 0 and 120 km/h, plus a bad clutch and evil sounds.  Attempted to fix the surfboard on the cold beach.  Didn’t fix the surfboard.  Searched for garages open on a Saturday.  Found a garage that identified the problem (a defective transmission bar) but couldn’t fix it.  They wouldn’t accept our money.  Confirmed that the Basque people are some of the kindest in Europe.  Decided to call the driving quits until fixing the transmission.  Met for lunch and a game of Hearts in the hot Iberian sun.  Watched the sunset over the bay.  Saw the sun fade back as a little star, then a drop in the galactic bucket.  Ate the best monkfish I’ve ever had.  Returned by taxi.  Everything still there – maybe there would be too much to steal.  Watched an episode of Columbo with my aunt and uncle.  Slept.

Day 3.  Rose at 8am.  Bus to Bilbao.  Had to run around the corner to get the tickets with a sliver of time left before it departed.  Beautiful formations of rock (volcanic?) alongside the road.  Ate unidentified bovine organ.  Three hours at the Guggenheim: brilliant, chameleonic, almost bionic architecture.  Form beats function, but function still wows.  Steak dinner and another round of Hearts.  Went successfully for Power for the first time in my life.  Walked through the old town, by the silent Gothic cathedral.  Slept.

Day 4.  Rose at 6am.  Bus to San Sebastian.  Truck still there, everything inside.  Two-hour search for the Toyota garage in Pasai Antxo, but they had the part to do the job in a day.  Few hours in a local café.  Al unable to find more waterfleas.  Drove along the hill of San Sebastian and parked for the night.  No more rumbling.  Admired the smashing Atlantic and the massive boulders still crossing their slate fingers against centuries of erosion.  True Basque dinner: three tapas bars, superb patatas al ajillo, calamari in its black ink, stuffed stomachs and happy faces.  Returned along the sublime bay: lighthouse light through the mist, tranquil stone warehouses, scents of the cold ocean, dark rock arms embracing the salty gel on the crust of the earth, city light and porous sky brushtroking together.  First night in the truck.  Arranged the stuff – we have too much.  Slept.

Day 5.  Rose at 8am.  Arranged the stuff – we have too much.  Drove to Pamplona, through windy, hilly, lush Navarre, arrived in Pamplona.  Lazed through the Citadel.  Chilly but sunny.  Drank real hot chocolate.  Sat down.  Wrote to you.



Sunset over Santa Klara, San Sebastian