My Last Day in San Sebastian January 12, 2016
What could be more authentic than authentic San Sebastian berets—as keepsakes for Zack and Grace? After all, their ancient ancestors were sea-loving, beret-wearing, longboat-rowing, swashbuckling fishermen and women!
On this, my last day, I needed to load up on souvenirs for the kids—last chance to buy all those things they’ll say when they see them, “Grandma, what were you thinking?” The Naval Museum was closed when I arrived and it was pouring rain, so I popped into this beret maker’s place on the wharf (the old gentleman declined to be photographed but snapped mine—well, he snapped 57 photos before I took his finger off the big white button). He embroiders Eusko designs on his handmade, 100% wool berets using the very old embroidery machine by my right hand.
Other souvenirs I collected, assembled here as I try to figure out how to pack them back to Paris, tell much about San Sebastian culture and my time here. Pintxos ingredients (spot the slices of organic acorn-eating, black pig?), Beizama cheese I watched being made, special San Sebastian “Alubia Negra” beans, specialty SB spice mixes including salt flavored with red wine, and locally-made chocolate cubes stuck to wooden sticks, so Zack and Grace can make hot chocolate by swirling them around in cups of hot milk. Oh, and in the back, special medicinal honey from local bees.
Two berets, local seeds, more chocolate and licorice, a replacement stovetop espresso maker for me (the one I bought in Elche, Spain in 1996 died two months ago), a spatula made with local wood, and a mouse pad souvenir from the Aquarium. So many wonderful things to share with my family and friends as we discuss my DNA Heritage Cultural tour to San Sebastian, Spain. (I hesitate to use the “Spain” word because Basque people think of Basque Country as a separate country and not part of Spain.)
Reflections at La Perla
The last day of my tour itinerary was to relax at a spa and reflect on all the things I had seen and done—and what it all meant to me. How did I feel? What did I think? What does it all mean? I chose La Perla spa on La Concha beach. This ornate building facing the sea was Queen Maria Christina’s beach changing room, when she came down to the beach from her palace on the hill just behind. Queen Regent Maria Cristina is responsible for making La Concha famous in the middle of the nineteen century, when she started frequenting it and declared San Sebastián the summer capital of Europe.
Remember Keith, my city tour guide? He recommended La Perla for the Chocolate Wrap and a deep massage. Beautifully appointed and run by beautiful Basque women, the spa is Pebble Beach class in every way. It was heavenly. During the extended scalp and face massage I requested, I shed a few joyful tears of release and gratitude.
I felt total calm when I came to San Sebastian five days ago, and that feeling has stayed with me. Dr. Bunten says she believes in “blood memory,” and maybe that’s what’s at work here. It’s been sort of like that comfortable feeling one has when returning to a childhood place of comfort—it’s in the genes, San Sebastian is in my nature. I did what I came to do—connect in a variety of ways with the most ancient evidence of familial women who came before me on the planet. A very long line of women who endured and persevered through centuries, each one living a life, and giving a life, and so on. And I’m not the last in this line of x chromosomes—there’s also my daughter and her daughter. How many daughters came before us, and how many more daughters will be born in my line of women—and in your line of women? That’s one of the things I love about this journey of connection. Connecting people makes me happy—and that fulfills most of my social animal needs—David Brooks would be proud! My next journey involves understanding inherited traits (genetic pre-dispositions) from these Magdalenian women in Spain, through the lives of generations of women, to me and my descendants in California. Stay tuned!
Thank you all for joining me, and for your kind comments about my writing. It’s all been a wonderment to me! I must also thank Dr. Alexis Bunten and Dr. Siamak Naficy, who provided the research, information, and itinerary necessary to make this happen. If you are interested in having your own genetic knowledge and/or itinerary for such a trip, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with them. firstname.lastname@example.org