The first of many to come
ST spent her first night under the star, it suited her just fine, and I could keep an eye on her from our room window.
The only way we realized that we were now in Spain was when the road signs changed from French to Spanish, we missed the welcome to Spain sign.
If I was lucky enough to see my cousins after 34 years, it was now Liliane’s turn to reconnect with her family. We left sunny and festive Biarritz, and headed south first through Bilbao.
Then Santander the economic center of the region
Eventually we found Suances, a small yet booming village in the province of Cantabria in northern Spain. The village is surrounded by several beaches, and in the summer months it is invaded by tourists in search of fun under the sun.
For us Suances is a very special village, not only is it Liliane’s dad's birth place, it is also were her mom lays in her final resting place.
We also visited the village of Santillana del Mar a medieval village typical of northern Spain. Altough the village is very well kept it is very touristy and it felt like the inhabitants had traded their for prosperity.
We were overwhelmed by the kindness, simplicity, and generosity of the people who welcomed us into their home. Plus, when your cousin is a great cook, and has for mission to make you sample as many local delicacies as you can in as little time as possible, you know that you will not go hungry.
Spain as many other European countries has a rich tradition of foods, and drinks (comidas y bebidas) that dates back hundreds of years, and that have changed very little since. These deep-rooted traditions of simple regional products prepared in a simple ways, provide a mosaic of dishes that reflects the close bond that people share with the earth and the sea. Even in the larger supermarkets, you find lot of local products advertised.
Frankly, in North America, be it in Canada or the States we are completely clueless when it comes to food. It seems that sadly our tradition is to spend as much time as we possibly can in the acquisition of wealth, so that we may spend it on things that we think we need in order to make us happy.
Don’t get me wrong Europeans like their Dvd players as much as anybody else, but it is quite refreshing to discuss shopping habits with French and Spaniard, and find out that they have never heard of Wallyworld. You get a funny look when you tell them it's open on Sundays, and 24 hours a day.
"What in the world do you need to purchase on a Sunday that cannot wait for tuesday afternoon" they ask?
"Sorry" I don't have the answer to that one.
Then comes the next question:
"Where do you get your fresh produces, meats and dairies... if you don’t have a weekly market"?
"Huh well.... we go to Superstore, and buy stuff shrink wrapped that all looks, and taste the same, mostly comes from thousands of miles, grown in a soil laden with fertilizer and pesticides, picked before its ripe, and then trucked for thousands of miles. -Monsanto style-.
A hairy donkey
France has over 247 homologated different types of cheeses, this does not include micro producers. Belgium, as small as it is offers more then 400 different types of beers to choose from. The small province of Asturias in Spain has dozen of local hams, and over 40 different types of registered brands of cheeses, and none of it is processed. We have already seen more species of domesticated cows since, traveling from the country side of Holland to Northern Spain, than in several Canadian and US crossings we've done in the past. It seems that we in North America have completely lost touch with reality.
Jamon Iberico -Pata Negra-
Ok I’ll stop this rant, I love both Canada and the US very much, and I do not want to alienate anybody, but despite many many trips to Europe over the years, I am always amazed to see so many people taking the time to socialize over a beverage served in a non-disposable container, with their dogs sleepily lying next to them in a local establishment.
Chorizo por favor
I cannot help but wonder if there is any correlation between the socialization factor, and the fact that there is rarely more then one television set per household?
We left the village of Suances on Sunday morning, and it was difficult to say goodbye, but is never easy to do so after such a warm, and sincere welcome. We zig an zagged through the Picos de Europa, sandwiched between mountain and ocean, the view was incredible. But we did not take many pics, it was mostly overcast.
Here are a few
Lunch was in a road-side restaurant in the middle of nowhere, we had for 12 Euros a seafood soup made with large shrimps, and fresh shellfish, fresh grilled sardines with French fries, a glass of local red wine, for dessert home made lemon tart and cinnamon flavored rice pudding, and an expresso. The Buffalo on the Manitoba license plate attracted quite a crowd.
Our next stop is Oviedo, the capital of the province of Asturias where Jackie’s sister anxiously waits for our arrival....