Humble beginnings

19:35 : Tuesday, 17 August 2021  |  , ,


There is a house in the village of Alda in the Arana Valley, which is in the Basque Country of northern Spain. One of the oldest houses in the village. The house where my mum grew up - and it is still standing. Her parents died in the early 80's, and the house ended up being severely modernised inside. Back then, food was cooked on a wood fire at the fireplace, where water was boiled in a cauldron. Tiled floors, wonky walls, inside shutters on the windows. This was traditional living.

One of the sons - José Ruiz de Gordoa Quintana - went on to become a politician. This was during the Franco dictatorship of 1936-1975. Of course, that is not to suggest that he was a dyed-in-the-wool rightist idiot. Back then you did as you were told. This was like a slightly watered-down version of Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. There were rules, and you followed them. Press restrictions were dropped in 1966, but criticism of the government was still a crime.

Given that my mum was the youngest of eleven children - I had this fear that she was the last one alive. Fortunately the next youngest one is still alive. My aunt Esperanza and her husband Moises are in their mid 80's and still going. I have been in contact with their daughter Espechu - my first cousin, and she has helped me to fill some holes in the Spanish side of the family tree.

No comments: