This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Cyclist, a British website, has just published an extensive article by Joseph Robinson, with photos by Ashley Quinlan. In it, they tell of their visit by bicycle to the Basque Country along with Bike Basque.
This very interesting article talks of their ride through Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Navarre, before finishing in the Northern Basque Country. And it’s interesting not only for its tale of “recreational sport”, or rather, that’s not the most interesting; that we found in the text itself.
For us, what was most interesting was the “out of focus” view most visitors have of our country, its reality, and its history.
The main reason for this is our political-institutional reality: being a nation divided into three administrative entities doesn’t help. Nor does the biased view the embassies and media of the states that “administer” us give of our reality.
But it’s also our fault. We’re incapable of transmitting a clear, coherent message of who we are. Our “factional wars” are responsible for a good chunk of that, with that permanent intention of building “stories” about our country that are more focused on weakening political rivals than reinforcing our national reality.
Joseph Robinson speaks of the territorial division of our country. He sets out the Navarre-Basque Country dichotomy as if they were completely separate entities. Navarre is Basque, just like Álava and Labourd. He ought to know that what he saw north and south of Izpegi Pass is part of the same territory, Navarre, and all of it is part of The Land of the Basques. It may divided up into different states, but it’s all part of the same country.
By the way, they should also not forget that the airport in Biarritz is “Biarritz Pays-Basque”. This isn’t because it’s close to the Basque Country, but rather because it is in the Basque Country. That’s why, among other reasons, they will have seen so many ikurriñas, the Basque flag, on both sides of the Pyrenees.
He also speaks to us about an economy affected by the crisis. This is true, but the Basque economy is still one of the most vibrant and innovative in Europe, and that’s turning things around. The “iron monoculture” has passed, and we’ve shown ourselves capable of transforming our economic structure.
He also speaks to us of the ETA, which says started in 1930! But he doesn’t know, and this isn’t his fault, that that is but a tiny part of our country’s struggle for freedom. It’s definitely the most painful and bloody part, but nonetheless a tiny part. For long before and after that sterile struggle, thousands of Basque patriots have given it all for the freedom of their country, and hundreds of thousands have contributed and still contribute to building our country.
It’s also notable how no one puts the birth of the ETA in context, or simply leaves it at “it was started during the Franco dictatorship”. An exclusive, imposing Spanish nationalism that hated anything Basque brought an ancient culture to the edge of extinction. In addition to persecuting and exiling thousands of Basques, it killed many. This is transparent, because the government and media of Spain want it to be.
This is definitely an interesting story that once again shows us how far we still have to go in writing our own story, of making ourselves the protagonists of our own tale.
Thanks to Joseph Robinson and Ashley Quinlan for visiting us. We’d like to encourage them to return, as we’re close by and the relationship between Basques and the British has always been close.
Thanks also to Bike Basque for organizing these routes that flow through our country, showing their customers all the complexity and beauty we can offer. We’d also like for them to consider there to be only one Navarre on both sides of the Pyrenees, from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Tudela and the Bardenas Reales.
Cyclist – 5/8/2018 – Gran Bretaña
A tour of the Basque Country: The heartland of Spanish cycling
A journey to France wouldn’t feel right if it went by unaffected by strike action. This time it wasn’t a farmers’ strike blocking the motorways or fuel strike in the petrol stations, but rather an air traffic control strike grounding all planes travelling through French airspace.