Friday, January 18, 2008

Montaña Banaña

We finally arrived in San Sebastian after fighting our way acrioss the mountains of northern Spain.

And what a struggle it was.

A thousand kilometers of driving the Alfa on perfectly maintained tiny little roads in the midst of pristine mountain scenery straight out of "Sound of Music".


Picture 1000 kilometers of Cachagua Road.......without the mega ranches and locked gates and the meth heads.

We spent an entire afternoon without seeing another car or human under the age of 80. Some dogs.......and some cows. A few vultures or condors, and some eagles. Some old farts in black berets like mine walking along the road, with and without cows.......closely watched by the vultures. At least I believe the big birds were watching the locals.....and not the Alfa and its contents.

At one point our perfectly maintained road stopped being so, and it turned from Cachagua Road into Tassajara Road for 50 km or so. Up and down mountains, through rivers......past abandoned farms. Gravel and rocks, the little Alfa blasting through frozen potholes and dodging grumpy cattle. No people. I stopped to take a foto and pee, and left the camera on top of the car when I drove off. I realized my mistake 10 km later and went back, fearing the worst. No problem, it was still sitting there in the middle of the road.....guarded by a cow.

In the middle of the middle of nowhere we saw a road sign, just when we were getting scared. It said: "Bogota, 7,000km; Saigon, 16,000km."

Apparently there are sarcastic bastards everywhere.......

While driving we fasted......except for cafe con leche and chocolate croissants in the morning, of course. We are still digestively recovering from a solid week of solid protein.....m,ost of it obscure, underdone, and very expensive. The tactic seems to be working........though we have had to perfect the art of stopping at tiny redneck bars in the middle of Bumfuck Eeegypt, casually ordering a copa de tinto as all the locals stare at the Yank appartion.......and sprinting for the servicios. Often times I even peruse the soccer news in the local paper before the big sprint. Very cool, I am........I can say Hello, Good Day, Good Evening, Thank You and Goodbye in Catalan, Aragonese, Navarese and Basque. No one speaks Spanish.

Recently, the Spanish government came down on the government of Catalonia about Education. No Nino Left Behind......except the Spanish bureaucrats were pissed because they discovered that Spanish is not taught in Catalonian schools. English and French are.....and Catalan.....but not Spanish. You go, Catalans!

I am with the Catalans on this one. I stumble along impressively in French and long as the topics stick to food and soccer. Catalan is the language made for those of us who got over being bitched at by Mme. DeFarge for not having "oooo" enough ooooo's or rolly enough double r's by Senora Puta.

Catalonia is independent of the national government in the way we all wish and think California is......pot clubs, better cars, better environment and food laws, etc. They even collect their own customs duties and tariffs. They have the largest port in Spain, their own army, a lot of mountains for the army to hide in if need be, and most of the land border with the rest of the world, so they can tell the Spaniards to fuck a language the Madrid bureaucrats don't understand, of course.

Their are at least seven normally spoken languages in Spain.....the above, plus Castillian. I think the Carary Island and Balearic guys are in there, plus the Arabic folks from Ceuta and down by Cadiz. Like I said yesterday.....Spain is BIG.

The Spainsh National anthem is the only one in the world without words.....because no on can agree on even what language they should be in.

Recently the Spanish Olympic committee held a contest to write words for the anthem. They were embarrassed that their athletes just stand there humming when they win something. Personally, I think it is so much better than watching Americans win and realizing that our sport warriors have no clue what the words are, or what they mean.

Anyway a taxi driver in Madrid won the contest, with a song kind of like "America The Beautiful" bombs, no fighting, no struggle against the enemy.......just amber waves of grain and babes in clubs or some such.

The anthem cleared the seven language barrier, but got the shitcan at the political hurdle. Despite being more than 200 years old, and having been sung.......or played, that massacres from Chile to Florida to Morocco.....the lefty anti-cleric folks objected that it reminds everyone of Francisco Franco and his homoerotic over gilded crew of murdering thugs from last century.

Come on, guys........Germany still uses Deutschland Uber Alles, and the French are still charging 250 year old barricades, and we pathetic Yanks are waxing lame about fireworks in Baltimore in a fight with the Brits to the tune of an old whorehouse song.

So......this summer in Peking.....when the Spanish win the various bicycle races and some closely.

Hmmmmm hmmmm hmmmm hmmmmm.

The local TV news here in San Sebastian interviewed a local old fart about his opinion on the whole flap.

"I actually like the words to the anthem. It doesn't really matter to us Basques, though. We have our own song. To me those Spanish are so amusing with their little quarrels.....don't you think?"

Here I was thinking that we might have ventured into Spain after our long trek today......

Apparently not!

We are somewhere else.......


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