Category Archives: Environment

El coste de mare de Euskadi

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My love to the nature became stronger and I decided to visit also a cost of  BC. In Estonia I live ten minutes to the sea, so I really miss it. But I can say, that you can not compare the sea in BC to the Baltic sea. There are different mountains and islands nearby.

There is a 2.8 km long beach in Zarauz – the largest beach in Gipuzkoa. It is a very romantic to walk through a promenade and watch how waves are moving and listen to the music of a sea. In this village there are a lot of bars and clubs just near the beach, so it is cool to party there in the summer.

There is even a special road which goes through mountains and cost, so, every year hundreds of people do that trip walking and exploring the nature for some weeks.

Aitzulo – small piece of paradise in BC

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I think that anyone who comes to visit BC can not stay indifferent to the nature. This is the first time in my live when i felt butterflies in my stomack because of a beauty of nature.

It was very spontanious when we decided to go to the mountains. We went by car to Oñati, in the way of Arrikrutz caves (I will write about these caves next week). The sightes around the Oñati are amazing. So, we parked our car beneath Orkatzategi mountain and began our trip.

It is not difficult to climb, especially with a nice weather and a good company. It took us for about an hour to get to the top, where the most beatiful thing was waiting for us. I speak about a cave, or, actually, the caves called Aitzulo. It is so beatiful, that you can hardly discribe it. I think it’s better to see the pictures. But, when you stay there you analyze that  humanbeing is nothing infront of a Nature.

I suggest anyone to visit this gorgeous place!!!

Mountains everywhere

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We did so much things this weeks that I feel like I am already here for one month instead of one week.  So where do I start? Ah yes, at the beginning…

I arrived in Santander on Saturday morning . Together with Wilco, the other Erasmus student from Windesheim, We took a flight from airport Weeze(Dusseldorf) to Santander. I thought I was going to cry a lot saying goodbye to my mom and boyfriend, but I kept it dry! When we arrived in Santander, we had to take the bus to Bilbao. The bus took about an hour and a half to get there. The view was so beautiful. Mountains everywhere,  with a lot of green and deep valleys. In Holland everything is flat so  I was fascinated by all the pretty nature here. When we arrived in Bilbao my two new roommaes picked us up . They took us by car to Mondragon. At the way over we talked in the car. They are so funny and crazy, I think I am going to like them both very much. My house looks real Spanish with a lot of wooden closets and hooked curtains. My room is nice as well, with a big wooden closet and a desk in it. The view from of my balcony is really pretty.

My balcony view

You can see a couple of real Bask houses and behind that the green mountains. The first thing i did when i arrived was eating pasta and sit on the balkony! The sun was really warm(In Holland it is allready cold) and the view incredible. I think I am going to have a lot of fun here!!

First night in Basque Country (BC)

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Well, I am studying in Basque Country as exchange student by Erasmus program. Never in my life I have thought to visit this beautiful land. BC is located on the north of Spain, so it is a part of it. But this small land (it is bigger than Estonia) is very different from the common Spain.  So now I am very happy that I have got here, otherwise I would never see it.

While sitting in a train for 6 hours (Madrid-Vitoria) I was looking out of the window . It is very different to I used to see. Everyway are mountains. I have never seen such huge mountains. So, I am going to live in Mondragon (Arrasate – the name in Basque language). It is a small city in a valley. 

At a very first night we were eating a potatoes pie. Our housekeeper Ander made it for us. And that was also the first time I have tryed it =)) I advice you all to try it once and you woun`t be dissapointed.

These are my first feeling and emocions about BC.

Angela Linskey, Naera Haundi: Jam with scruples

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AngelaShopping for jams in the supermarket, I little expected to find Angela Linskey and much less the discoveries I would make when visiting Naera Haundi where the conserves are made.

Naera Haundi is a four hundred-year-old farmhouse officially in the Basque town of Abaltzisketa, though in reality located down a steep path on the side of a valley at the foothills of the Txindoki mountain, an ideal spot for spending a few days if, as the website says, it is peace and tranquillity you are after.

It is more than 30 years since Angela and her Basque husband Jesus Mari decided to leave San Sebastian to “try the rural lifestyle of a traditional Basque farm.” While perhaps happy to escape the increasing buzz of the city, however, it was a different concern that encouraged this couple to make such a radical change:

“We started getting a bit worried about the food we were eating. We read a book called Your Daily Bread by a woman who had been around a flour-refining factory where they were gassing the flour to make it whiter. We started reading more about what we were eating and it just went on from there. The only clear idea we had was that we wanted another kind of life and it had to be in the sphere of organic farming.”

Naera Haundi is dedicated to growing, processing and selling only organically home-grown fruit jams and jellies. “We make between 12-14,000 jars (of “Nahera” jam) a year. About 75% of that is currently from our own fruit… And the whole process is here – we don’t have any machinery, it’s literally spooning it in.”jams and jellies

The decision of Angela and others like her to pursue organic farming coincided with a growing trend for alternative farming during the 1970s and beyond (though still almost unheard of in the Basque Country) among people disillusioned with conventional methods or routines: “Most of us who started that way are from small or large towns… It was a revolution you see – not just going out and shouting in the streets – to go back and work on the land.”

From trend to trendy

Though organic products continue to have a rather middle-class image, Angela staunchly defends their dietary value: “If you’re eating organic, you’re generally eating very healthily – people eating organic food are not often at the doctors… If you take into account the hydrogenated fats and pesticides in conventional foods, what is that costing a country in its health service?” (Interestingly, the UK’s Soil Association recently published a report confirming the nutritional value of organic to be significantly higher than non-organic foods).

Since their compromise with organic farming over 30 years ago, Naera Haundi have taken steps to broaden their commitment to global issues such as climate change. “We have an installation with photo-voltaic panels for producing electricity… Next to them are thermal solar panels for heating water. We heat water for up to 10-12 people.” (Enough for the maximum 8 people they can put up in two apartments plus themselves).

Then there are the two wood-burning stoves: “Wood- produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as a rotting log,” she explains. “We use the ash – potash – as fertilizer and chip the wood we can’t use for compost.”

I point out that in Vietnam, fishermen on the Mekong recycle everything, including rice husks, out of economic necessity: “I think we need to be poor again,” she concurs. “The amount of things that people throw away.. (My generation) were brought up to think throwing food away was a sin.”

Naera Haundi BaserriOne is reminded of a by-gone era at Naera Haundi and not by accident. The modern obsession with packaging is one of Angela’s major grievances: “It’s just so unnecessary,” she says. She confesses to feeling “out of place” in her hometown of Birstall, West Yorkshire, partly due to the demise of high street shops. “It’s so disappointing – there used to be small shops, the dairy etc; now there’s (sic) just the two supermarkets – it really depresses me.”

Almost forty years have passed since Angela and her sister left Birstall  to embark on a hitchhiking holiday in France, deciding on impulse to come this way. She expresses curiosity at an English woman working for (the inherently Basque) EITB, but Angela’s integration after four decades is profound: “To live on a farm in this country, to understand the Basque culture, you have to speak Euskera… So when we came to (Naera Haundi) we decided we would use Basque all the time.”

The entire eleven acres of Naera Haundi, Angela and Jesus Mari planted themselves; trees include apple, quince and pear, though a recent cyclone in the Basque Country blew down fifty in total, twenty-seven of them pear trees, an all too poignant reminder for the couple of the possible effects of climate change. A massive problem, though possibly with a small solution?

“We just can’t continue with the way we’re consuming now,” saying Angela, “eventually we’re all going to have to go back to the 1950s – and that will be a good thing, not only for the planet, but for people’s health, physical and spiritual.”