Ay, roots! What is it about roots? Clearly, we’re not just a “me,” but rather an “us,” where “our people” and what they lived through play an important role. We could even say that our personality and our soul are also made up of some of the realities we may not know, but which we can sense, or maybe simply imagine.
These parts of our always multifaceted personalities sometimes push us to search. They feed an irresistible need to know who we are and where we come from, those places which quite often become the idealized land of our forebears in their stories.
That must be what happened to Chabel Garanzini Mendiola, the retired schoolteacher from Sarmiento, Santa Fe Province, Argentina, whose Basque grandmother, Milagros García Mendizabal, emigrated to this part of La Pampa from La Arboleda, Biscay, Basque Country.
She arrived as a widow with three children, after having survived the travails of the war and losing her husband, Juan Antonio Mendiola Burruchaga, a member of the Basque Nationalist Party. She and her children overcame so much misfortune, from exile in Europe to the Second World War, before finally escaping to that land so many Basques fled to in order to escape the monster of Francoism: Argentina.
Chabel Garanzini Mendiola needed to connect with that part of her family’s history, and fill in the gaps in the stories left behind by the places we’ve never been to. Perhaps the need arose from growing up hearing her mother and grandmother always remembering those days gone by in the faraway Mining District of Biscay, recalling the adventures and misadventures that guided their lives on that long journey from that small, but important, town in the mountains of their Basque homeland to the vast openness of La Pampa in their adopted Argentine homeland.
This book is more than a travelogue, or a biography of her mother or grandmother. It is the tale, or the product, of a personal search for one’s roots.
It’s a journey that has only just begun, and we hope and encourage her to continue down it.
As for the book, which can be acquired at the HomoSapiens Publishing House online store (link), the author was kind enough to share the first chapter with us. She also informed us that the first copies are reaching the land of her amama and are receiving a warm welcome.
We’ll also leave you with the interview she gave on the “Entre Vascos” program on the Argentine station Radio Megafon.
Header photo: Funicular railway at La Reineta, 1930. Centerpiece of life in La Arboleda and of thr first pages of the book “Sangre vasca”