And so this morning we leave. I would have liked to have spent a little more time in San Sebastian, explored a little further, but it’s the heat that wins in the end. With the promise of another day with soaring temperatures in the high 30s, there’s a limit to how much can be done outside. The lure of putting some miles in front of crisp air-conditioning is too tempting an offer to refuse.
One thing about being married to someone for so long – they know all your weaknesses. Not that I have any, of course. Except the heat, and anything fluffy or the promise of patting anything fluffy and perhaps cheese…but pretty bullet proof otherwise. Chris knows just which button to push to get me moving.
We are traveling west, deep into the Basque region, along coastal routes wherever possible. The countryside is an immediate and continuing surprise. The Spain of past travels was an arid landscape, dry in the extreme. This journey, in stark contrast, is lushly green, forest alternating with an occasional farm, but far fewer than one would expect. The land is mountainous, very steep. Where ocean views are visible, they’re spectacular.
The heat of the day brings a familiar scent, noses alterted before eyes: eucalypts, their rich oils wafting on the wind. It’s such an intensely Australian scent, immediately bringing home to mind. We pass repeating plantings, Chris says for wood, but I can’t imagine how they would be harvested on the impossible slopes they’re grown on.
Towns appear, following a distinct pattern – if there’s a beach, and there’s quite a few, a town will have sprung up around it. If there’s a river/beach combo, even better.
Lush, uninhabited greenery erupts into high rise living wherever this occurs – there’s no doubt the Basque love the sun and sea.
Passing though one town, we’re behind a group of school kids, fascinated by the motorhome, but even more so by Squiz, Chris shamelessly making him wave at them, much to their delight.
We pass quite a number of beautiful vistas until one stops us in our tracks, it’s that lovely. Lekeitio is a gorgeous combination of river and multiple beaches, prettily offset by an island offshore. So captured, we settle in and walk into town.
It’s very quiet, everything is closed for siesta, but also because all the action is on the shore. Those too hot to swim are snacking and drinking the afternoon away. Everyone else is in the water having a most fabulous time. Cafes are lined up against the boat harbour, another full of a myriad fish. The Altantic crashes dramatically into the see wall on one side, a protected bay split by the river mouth on the other.
The heat calls for drinks, which leads to a snack, but I eventually drag Chris onto the beach for a walk.
The island, San Nicolas, can be accessed on foot in low tide and we’re just in time to see the walkway emerging. It’s too good an opportunity to miss but no sooner than Chris can say “careful, it’s slippery” I’m down on my butt, legs scrapped by coral. Not my best look, but recovery was quick. We make it about half way before the thought of toppling into the ocean phone in hand forces a retreat.
There’s still plenty of beach to walk though, one side full of families, kids playing, parents and grandparents, the other teenagers surfing. The Basque have a very healthy approach to the beach. They also have a foolproof method for getting a bikini body: take your body, put a bikini on it and lo, a bikini body. All shapes and sizes are well represented and those who wish to let it all hang out, do. Great approach – it sends a very strong, positive message to young girls, this level of comfort with shape and form reflected by generations of women. The beach here is a place of acceptance and fun, not the quest for a perfect body/selfie combo.
Beach toured we also pop into the church, closed earlier, to admire its ornate altar and one of the most beautiful carvings I’ve seen. The simple perfection of the angel is truly fine work.
We make it home just in time. The heat breaks, bringing with it rain, lightening and thunder. Relief, at last.