|La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti|
and parents suffer the effects of war intensely, but so do. Children are one of
the sectors of the population who suffer most in wars as there are deaths,
malnutrition, disease and psychological trauma by being forced into continuous
displacement. For our parents it was a cultural mutilation, added to the pain of
having left two so young daughters so far away and. For the Basques, the Spanish
Civil War and then World War II tore from Euskadi a large number of its most
prominent and prestigious intellectuals.
our parents left for America, Aunt Juli left with us from Biarritz. By train she
crossed the border with the two of us without documentation or authority to take
us out of France. The new law of Franco helped such a plan since our return to
Spain recovered the daughters of the defeated. But Begoña recently explained to
us that Aunt Juli could do it because she designed and sewed clothes for the
wife of the ambassador of Spain to France, José Félix de Lequerica Erquiza,
when they lived in Paris. Now his intervention made it possible for our aunt to
cross the border with two French girls and 14 trunks of fabrics, clothes and
designs, enough to start her haute couture business in San Sebastian
went to France as ambassador in 1939, and later was ambassador to the Vichy
regime allied with Nazi Germany. As Ambassador he was noted for his relentless
persecution of the exiles from the war in Spain. He got arrested Lluis Companys
and other Republican leaders, who handed over to the Francoist authorities, as
well Julian Zugazagoitia and Joan Peiro who were also shot. He was a staunch
enemy of Basque nationalism.
the border Uncle Ino and Aunt Lola waited for us. Aunt Juli decided to stay and
to live in beautiful San Sebastian and opened a tailoring shop here. She stayed
with Begoña and they took me to Las Arenas, about 120 miles away to live with
uncles and my grandfather. They separated the two sisters without thought of the
terrible loss we had already suffered.
maternal grandfather had lost his apartment and belongings from the "Casa
Grande" and went to live in a modest apartment in the district of Santa
Ana, a first-floor apartment at #24 Gobelas Street in Las Arenas. The house was
sunny and open as all the rooms opened onto the outside. It had three bedrooms,
large living and dining rooms, huge bathroom and a kitchen with wood and coal
stoves and a large crisper in the window. Grandpa lived with his eldest
daughter, Lola, and his only son Ino. Ino managed the shares of stock that he
and his sisters still owned in their father’s factory, and he was also Vice
President of the “Talleres Erandio” corporation. His other daughter Mari had
gone to France and later to Caracas, Venezuela, with her husband Luis and his
daughter Maria Luisa. She was a piano teacher and she made her way in Venezuela
teaching. On the fourth floor lived our Aunt Elvira, his niece.
had a large room with a large balcony overlooking the back garden with orchards
of about 22 square meters per family. There they raised chickens or grew
vegetables. In front of the house was a large yard surrounded by a fence. My
room was large and sunny and I shared it with Aunt Lola. The room contained a
king bed, and over the head a newly acquired painting of the Guardian Angel
protecting two children crossing a dangerous bridge. Aunt Lola and I prayed
every night that I might be protected at night and during the day too.
This would be her principal worry. Above
the night table were many pictures, all protected by glass. A favorite of mine
was of ama who wore a necklace of glass beads, which Aunt Lola had kept let me
have. I looked at it through the sunshine that bathed my room, trying to imagine
some unknown landscape. The
necklace was emerald green. Also in my room there was a large closet, and small
toy chest to keep the clothes of my doll Nicole, an armchair and a small shelf
where I kept a collection of books of the German brothers Grimm with the reading
of which I nourished myself intellectually during the seven years I lived in Las
arrived at Las Arenas. In one trip I had lost my parents, sister, and the aunt
with whom I had lived since birth. My grandfather was very happy to have me in
his home and he called me Merceditas, perhaps because I reminded him of his
distant daughter. In Las Arenas I had two aunts to take care of me. Aunt Lola,
who said that I brought the sun into the home, nicknamed me "Solete."
(Sunshine) She was in charge of my religious life. She took me to Mass with her and we visited all the churches
around Easter. In the school she
was highly regarded by the nuns. She
was a frequent visitor to check on my "academic" progress.
She also took me to visit the Shrine of
which means “stones” in Basque, is a mountain near the city of Eibar
(Guipuzcoa) with a height of 556 meters. Along the top, crowned by a large stone
cross, is a recreational area surrounding the Shrine of Our Lady of Arrate.
Inside is a venerated image of the Virgin
from the fourteenth century.
We played a lot in the woods of pine
and beech, picking blackberries, sometimes with Begoña and always with the
children of Aunt Andresa, the brother of Uncle Pedro. In winter in the snow we
saw my uncle hunting wolves that lived in the region and we attend the classes
that Uncle Pedro taught to children from neighboring villages.
The chaplain of the Shrine of Arrate
was Don Pedro Gorostidi (1915-2001) a great photographer and a first-rate
electronics expert who founded the first radio station in Euskara in Eibar,
"Arrate Irratia," in late December 1959. The painter Ignacio Zuloaga,
born in Eibar, probably the most important Basque painter of the late nineteenth
century, donated some of his works to the sanctuary including the painting of
Our Lady of Arrate that were exhibited in the small enclosure of the altar. Aunt
Lola and Aunt Elvira liked to help their cousin, Uncle Pedro, especially in the
special festival on September 8 for Our Lady of Arrate. We
visited very often in winter or summer. We went
by train from Las Arenas to Eibar and from there we climbed the narrow, winding
road to the summit of Mount Arrate. Begoña and I were carried in baskets
on the backs of donkeys. They gave us chocolate
bars and some comics, cartoons aimed at children such as "Tiny Anita”, a
blond with braids who faced many dangers and enemies like horrible witches I
guess to keep us quiet, while the aunts were talking behind us. In addition to
religious ceremonies in which I participated in the procession, there were dance
competitions, Basque rural sports, Basque dance contest Basque and bertsolaris
(improvising Basque poets and singers).
Elvira loved children, and she lied without reservation to cover my antics and
she spoiled me by bringing goodies almost daily. She was in charge of my social
life. She took me on Sunday
afternoons to visit my grandmother and my cousins in Algorta. We also went to
Bilbao to visit old friends of my parents who had two girls my age or to the
famous and largest covered market in Europe”Mercado de La Ribera” according
to the Guiness Book. Or we would go
to Portugalete on the ferry to have hot chocolate with churros or attend fairs
in town. I saw my sister Begoña when there was a family event or during the
We were often visited by a niece of my
grandfather, Aunt Antonia, tall and thin and she used a cane, she always dressed
in black as I remember. When we had a telephone installed in the house, maybe
because it was black, she did not want to use it to talk to her sister who lived
in Madrid because he believed that this device was an invention of the devil.
than a year after I arrived from France I started school at "La Divina
Pastora." Today it is called "Mother of
the Divine Shepherd" and is across the street from the home of my
grandfather. I was three and a half years old. I liked the theater and in my first performance I said a verse of twenty
words to the Mother Superior that I still have. It seems that everyone
clapped and I did too with enthusiasm. Meanwhile
my grandfather and I were creating many problems. We understood each
other very well, and no one could cope with our mischief.
Our parents were kept informed of what
Begoña and I were up to. Aunt Lola wrote letters and eagerly described my
latest deeds and my bad behavior, but she added that my friendliness avercame
any punishment. (I
still have that letter.) And Aunt Juli wrote about Begoña’s progress. She was
less trouble than I was.
On 24 September, the festival of the
Virgen de Las Mercedes, the town of Las Arenas was decorated for their festival,
with gigantes (giant paper mache
figures carried by people inside them) and cabezudos
(huge paper mache heads on people’s shoulders), toros de fuego, and cooking contests. With
that in mind my friends and I held snail races. In
the garden there were a lot of them and we put them to climb up the wall of the
house, and we spent hours deciding the championship. We also played marbles, one
of the oldest games, or jacks (our jacks were made from the knee of the hind
legs of lambs) known from classical antiquity and one of our most popular games
around that era. We played hide-and-seek a lot,
and we went all around the center of town and we hid in the gardens of the
vacant summer houses. One house across from the train station was our
favorite; the owners of these villas only came in summer.
Spinning a top was another of our favorite pastimes.
The neighborhood ice cream vendor kept his cart in the small garage in our
garden, and if we were out playing when he came home in the evening he handed
out to us the ice cream that he had left.
December 28 we celebrated with great pomp our grandfather's birthday. Days
before relatives had come from towns and villages nearby to help prepare the
sumptuous dinner. Earlier in the kitchen all the women around a huge bowl killed
and plucked chickens and until cooking time they left them hanging on the
balcony to keep them fresh. One time I had the idea to grab one and throw it to
the dog Txiki that belonged to our downstairs neighbors.
I sure he was licking his chops when he smelled that chicken. I do not
remember what happened when it came time to cook it and they realized they were
missing a chicken, but surely Aunt Elvira bailed me out with one of her famous
the arrival of two txistularis (txistu
players) from Algorta, the party began. The txistu is a kind of fipple flute
with three holes. At dessert a family friend,
Maria Basañez, played the piano and everyone under the dierection of Uncle Ino
sang Boga-Boga (a traditional Basque
sailors’ song) solemnly. The house was full of people, many had come days
before to help the aunts prepare the big dinner in honor of our grandfather. My
sister and I continued the fun by jumping on the bed in my room as I remember.
The dinner lasted until the wee hours of the morning. There were special toasts
for the absent family members. Ama wistfully wrote about it and wished she could
return. My aunts answered "it will be soon."
Everything around me was good and
lively, at least until I visited my friends and saw them with their parents, and
I resented it a lot for not having mine although it was not something I liked to
talk about. I felt sad that my parents did not live with me. It was such a
longing to have my parents that sometimes when I came home from school before
knocking on the door of the house, I yelled "Ama, aita open the door"
so my friends would hear and think that my parents had already returned. While
I lived through all these experiences, my parents were in Casablanca, Morocco,
Africa. They had been waiting six months for a
neutral vessel to cross the Atlantic and go to Argentina. They had also been in
a concentration camp on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal, Africa. I did
not know all that at the time. Since I liked
jewelry, I was happy when I received from them an amber necklace that I still
The day after (el Dia de) Reyes
(January 6, or Twelthnight in English-speaking countries), without any time to
play with our new toys, my sister and Aunt Juli would leave to go to San
Sebastian and we felt sorry to say goodbye. We got along very well but were very
different in temperament, and physically. She was blonde with big brown eyes,
pretty face and had a small stature; I had brown hair, freckles, and was
slender. Also, our lifestyle was different, and we were following different
models. She lived more isolated from other children because she stopped going to
school after the kids called her "daughter of reds (communists)" with
andereño (Basque teacher) came to
teach her at home. She was shyer and quieter than
I, my temper was more restless. I was tried to be the leader, and she followed
me as much as she could. We both needed the company of the other, but we seldom
my parents had arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ama wrote often and my aunts and uncle kept them up to date about both of
us constantly. They announced to us the arrival of a new sister, Arantzazu, who
was born on January 21, 1943, and said we would soon be able to play with her. They
were convinced that their return was imminent.
My grandfather suffered from
arteriosclerosis and used a wheelchair in his final months. His death was sudden
at 79 years of age. I was told that he was sleeping and during his wake and
burial I stayed with family friends upstairs and saw the funeral procession
along Gobelas Street, the priest, the acolytes with their candles and people
behind on their way to the church, but I do not think I realized what was
happening. I was five. He
died without our mother’s being able to say her last goodbye.
One year after the death of our
grandfather Aunt Lola decided to go to Caracas, Venezuela to be with her sister
Mari who was very ill at the time, and now left my life another person who had
been important to me. At home I was under the tutelage of Uncle Ino and my new
Aunt Carmen. I
loved my uncle, and Aunt Carmen was very good to me. When
I was not in school I went shopping at the plaza with her as I had done with
Aunt Lola. I carried my little basket, and almost always came home with some
homemade things that they gave me at the plaza. When we returned from shopping
the food was almost done, and smelled delicious as it had been simmering on the
coal stove and soon my uncle came to eat with us. My aunt and uncle often took
me for a ride to Bilbao. What I
remember most is going to Arenal de Bilbao in Semana Grande (Big Week, a local festival) and riding on the
My uncle liked to tell of the time
when the Arenas Club (the local soccer team) was champion of Spain in 1919 and
runner-up in 1925 and 1927, and when Arenas beat Barcelona by 5 to 2 in the
Racing Field in Madrid. . And together we sang the song about the
game: "... Alirón, Alirón
the Arenas Champion". He
played soccer on the Arenas Club and had a large photo in the living room with
the signatures of the team. The photo showed the players and I remember a few of
those successful times: Peña, Careaga, Monache and Robus the first three of
whom I met. The Arenas Club was formed in 1912. They first played on a soccer field in Lamiako, but soon they
left for the sports club in Neguri, Jolaseta. Ama told us of his season of glory
because once our uncle had scored a goal. When our uncle playing the whole
family attended, and urged him to score a goal or Aunt Lola would not pay him
My uncle also liked to take me to the
balcony at dusk to watch the fiery lights of the blast furnaces, the huge ovens
where iron was smelted, but he told me it was the place where they sent those
who were naughty. Once he took me to see the launching of a ship in the Rio
Nervion. It was a moment of great excitement when the ship dropped from the top
of the dike to the surface of the river. We
watched with horror as the ship shook until it finally rested quietly in the
those days, I had a small accident which could have been serious. I
was playing in the house of my friend Miguel Angel, and we decided to create our
own railway line. We put chairs in
a row and then 'traveled' under them, perhaps because the train station was so
close to home and we could hear constant whistles. One of the chairs had a nail
sticking out underneath that cut me badly on my forehead.
It was bleeding and it hurt a lot and my friend's terrified mother
carried me down the stairs from where they lived on the third floor, while I
cried inconsolably and called for ama. I
was almost 6 years. It was a difficult time for Aunt Carmen. They cleaned
up the wound, and a centimeter scar was visible on my forehead, but is invisible
When our parents learned that they had
separated Begoña and me, they did not like it at all because we were not
growing up like sisters. But living so far from us, it was hard for them to
evaluate the circumstances and they were very grateful that everyone treated us
well. Shortly after Aunt Lola left, Aunt Juli invited me to spend some time in
San Sebastian, and I decided to try it only for the three summer months, since I
went to school. I
boarded the train "El Correo" in Bilbao’s Atxuri station, and five
hours later we entered Amara station in San Sebastian. Begoña
was waiting for me accompanied by Contxesi. She was a Basque-speaking peasant
woman from Guipuzcoa, a first-rate cook who loved my sister Begoña and the
right hand of my aunt. She and Contxesi understood each other very well and they
spoke in Euskera. I knew a few words I learned from my grandfather; to him Erdera (the Basque word for the Spanish language) was his second
language. My sister was happy to see me, and so was I to see her.
Sebastian was once a fortified town and fishing village. Now was the Bella Easo.
Aunt Juli lived in an apartment at #15 General Echagüe Street. The
house had two floors. In the basement were the kitchen, bathroom, Contxesi’s
room and two large rooms that held the sewing workshop where a dozen
seamstresses worked. The upstairs was elegantly decorated highlighting the
colors maroon and sky blue. The entrance had a beautiful mahogany cabinet where
the phone was, with an upholstered chair, and it had a maroon carpet. There was
an elegant dining room with a large fireplace made of wood and tiles, and a
burgundy carpet and leather armchairs. It was also the bedroom because a cabinet
during the day became a bed at night. The dining room was connected by sliding
doors to a room dedicated to fashion shows.
The carpet and sofas wore light blue and the very dim lighting antorchas
embedded in the walls gave a warm and elegant appearance.
This was followed by a waiting room in the same style and finally a
fitting room and a large bathroom as big as the dining room. Every room
had huge windows overlooking the River Urumea. The
house was located on the corner of General Echagüe and Paseo Salamanca. The
place was beautiful, and I remember falling asleep to the sound of waves hitting
the rocks on the banks of river. The large
five-story stone building was built in the nineteenth century, and it had high
ceilings. Aunt Juli was a true artist in design and sewing and she had
her fashion design business in her apartment.. It was more a home than a
business. She traveled a lot during the week, but when she was at home she was
working in the workshop or fitting a customer, and often we only saw her during
lunch. Sundays she took us to Mass at the
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and sometimes watched boat races in the bay
before coming home for lunch. We were always beautifully dressed. But
for me the best of this city was playing with my sister and we got along very
well even though we were living different experiences.
She lived in this elegant, secure but lonely environment, and I was in a
more modest, but more free and had more friends. In this beautiful city of San
Sebastian, we hadn’t the freedom to go out alone because the house was facing
the highly trafficked Paseo Salamanca.
A few months after the birth of our
little sister in Buenos Aires, our parents went to live in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The Basque president José Antonio Aguirre at that time was living in New York
and he commissioned aita to be in charge of the Basque Cultural Week of 1943 in
Uruguay. Uruguay at that time had a
democratic regime, and was a close friend of democracy, while in Argentina
occurred on 4 June of that year a military coup that had a positive attitude
towards Franco. Aita accepted the new
responsibility of organizing the Basque Week which started on 30 October and was
delayed until November 13, 1943. One of his main tasks was to develop honorary
committees composed entirely of prominent members of the public and intellectual
life of Uruguayan society. His job was made easier because he was a distant
relative of the then-President of the Republic, Juan Jose Amezaga.
Their grandfathers had been brothers. For that Basque Week our
father worked hard to have the participation of poets, painters, writers,
sculptors, musicians, and dancers. Aguirre also
decided to continue with the Basque Delegation (with the functions of an embassy
representing the interests of the Basque Government-in-Exile) in Montevideo. In
the spring of 1943, Aguirre asked his old friend Vicente to take over as
Director of the Basque Delegation in Montevideo, which was equivalent to be
ambassador to Uruguay, but of course it was only an honorary title. After
two visits to study the situation, aita agreed and moved the family to
Montevideo in September, 1943. They seemed happy.
Aita’s very big task was to raise awareness of Basque culture in this
city where it was not widely known, and ama was concerned with social work.
Throughout these times, however, our mother, as she used to say, the
shadow of our absence pained her heart constantly.
In me there continually vibrated a
concern that my sister did not share, and it was the desire to be close to our
mother and meet our parents wherever it might be, but still we were at war, it
was not safe to cross the ocean and there was nobody to take responsibility for
our care. So it was not much could
be done. Our uncle and aunts always say
"next year you'll be all together", but months and years passed
without it happening.
that I knew how to write, I could tell them all this and about my life and I
wrote to our parents often. We received their news frequently. Our
brother Joseba Bingen was born on April 18, 1945, and the war was almost over. Our
parents started to talk about reuniting Begoña and me with them. They wanted us
to make the trip together, to which Aunt Juli told them that the journey by ship
from Bilbao to Montevideo, Uruguay, was very long, in those times about one
month, and she suggested it would be better for one to make the journey and then
the other. That was a long trip for two and more if we were going by ourselves.
Our parents were not happy about this but they agreed. I immediately started
making plans for what until then had been only a dream, first trying to convince
Begoña that we should go together. I think if we had lived together at the time
it would have been happen like that.
arrived back in Las Arenas in time to start school. I missed my sister, but my return brought happiness back to
my uncle and aunt. They could not have children and it seems I filled their
lives very well, and I was happy to go to school and see my friends.
the Basque Delegate in Montevideo, aita also became leader of a spy network of a
dozen Basque men who gathered intelligence about fascist agents in Uruguay.
They sent this information to the Basques in New York who then sent it to
Washington. The money earned from this service was a vital part of family income
in the early and mid 1940's. In early 1947 the U.S. made a shift of 180 degrees
from their concerns with fascists to the onset of the Cold War. Communism became
the enemy and Spain became an ally in this struggle. Now the State Department
and the CIA withdrew their financial support from the Basque government, a step
that subjected the exiles to a financial crisis which they never recovered. So
now the family home was going through financial hard times.
were in the year 1947. Ama wrote
that for my birthday I would have a new brother and they want for me to be the
godmother. I was happy, but they changed their minds about the godmother.
Maybe I was too young; I was going to be only nine years old. At school
the nuns began to prepare me for First Communion.
parents wanted to be present for such a great day and they were saddened that I
would do it far from them. But I would soon be nine years and the school
didn’t know how much longer they could wait. We went to the photographer Cañada
to take photos to send to them. My lovely organdy gown was made in the sewing
shop of Aunt Juli. The celebrant was Uncle Pedro; the date was May 7, my
birthday. The place was the school
chapel in a private ceremony. The small church was decorated with beautiful
flowers in May. In front of the altar were three sets of red velvet couches that
would be occupied by my Uncle Ino and Aunt Carmen and in between was mine,
wrapped in white tulle. The chapel was full of lights and flowers. It was a very
good day except for the absence of our parents, which it was the only shadow.
When I knelt at my pew fervently prayed to God that I would meet our parents
very soon. Seven months later I was on a ship to Montevideo, Uruguay. Four days
after I made my First Communion, May 11, 1947, our brother, Xabier Iñaki, was
captain of the ship Monte Amboto,
Captain Gastiarena, a friend of my uncle, told him they were going to South
America with stops in Montevideo, Uruguay, next December and he would be
responsible for both of us; but Begoña was unwilling to leave. It was a long
journey and I would have to go alone, without my sister or anyone I knew.
Her refusal did not diminish my strong desire to meet our parents. So I
began my trip preparation. The months went by quickly. I do not remember what
was going through my mind when I was about to leave everything that was so
familiar and friendly to me to embark alone to a distant place to go to meet my
parents and three younger siblings. But I don’t think I had doubts about the
step that I was going to take, but though I did not know it, it would completely
change my life and that of my parents and siblings.
another trip to San Sebastian, again I proposed to Begoña to accompany me on
the journey to America. I could not believe that she did not feel as I did about
something I wanted so badly. It was midsummer and we were both on the Paseo
Nuevo skating and I put emphasis that on this trip we needed to go together.
This time I said it very seriously and I remember exactly her words,
"I'm afraid to travel by boat going so far and I don’t like very much the
idea of living with younger siblings."
I remember that day because while we were discussing our future, we
looked at some of the people sitting on the benches of the Paseo Nuevo reading
the newspaper with a headline that read "Manolete Dead".
But while the news did not matter to us a lot, when we got home the
seamstresses were talking about the event, saying that the greatest and most
legendary bullfighter in history was killed by a deep goring deep (the bull’s
horn severed his femoral vein and this event turned him into a myth of post-war
Spain) and that was on August 29, 1947. Years later in Montevideo when I did an
oral presentation covering the culture of the Iberian Peninsula, I would explain
to the class about this event with as much eloquence as if I had been present at
left San Sebastian to go to Bilbao. My
uncle went to meet me at the train station in Bilbao. We drove to Las Arenas in
the car in silence. After a long
pause he said, "You know you do not have to go if you do not want to."
I nodded, but I had already made the decision and no one could convince me
before I left my aunt and uncle gave me a beautiful gold bracelet with four
precious amethyst stones, light purple hue, called "Rose of France".
They told me that whenever I put it on I should remember them. And I wore
it during the journey and today I still have it and I keep it as a small
treasure. I learned that this rock is soothing and invigorating in case of
stress, nervousness, fear and anxiety and is one of the world's most important
crystals. And according to Greek mythology, Dionysus, god of wine and
debauchery, sought a maiden named Amethyst, who wished to remain chaste. The
goddess Artemis heard her prayers, and transformed the woman into a white rock.
Dionisio, humiliated, poured wine on the rock by way of apology, staining its
purple crystals. Christianity adopted the amethyst as a symbol of renunciation
of worldly goods and chastity, and even today many cardinals and bishops where
it in the form of rings. The amethyst symbolizes divine wisdom.
17, 1947, arrived and we all went to port of Bilbao for me to board the ship.
The captain was waiting. He had no beard or pipe as I had imagined.
Very friendly he took us to the bridge, where ship is steered, and showed
us his binoculars and the wheel. My aunt and uncle inspected my cabin. My bed
was above to the right of the window (porthole). They hugged me and kissed me
with tears. I was so emotional that they thought I had changed my mind about
leaving, they told me later. Shortly after, the ship with its loud horn
announced its implacable departure. Begoña was not with me. I was alone on deck
watching them on the pier. My aunt and uncle continued to drive along the banks
of the river from the boat docks, marinas, boatyards, the blast furnaces,
factories, houses and the Euskalduna ship yards, where my Uncle Churchill was
waving a large handkerchief. I remember him shouting "Do not forget your
inheritance." Uncle Churchill
and Aunt Cris were the aunt and uncle of Aunt Carmen and we went to visit them
from time to time to Bilbao. They lived in the neighborhood Basurto, on the 5th
floor. From the kitchen window it
could be seen the San Mames stadium. It had the best box seat in the
neighborhood. While they were chatting in front of the window, I listened to
music on their RCA record player, and apparently I liked it so much that he
promised to leave it to me as my inheritance. At the hanging bridge (the Puente
de Vizcaya) my aunt and uncle took out their handkerchiefs to give me a final
goodbye and I kept looking until they became the horizon. In front of me very
soon would be the sea and more sea.
a month of crossing many time zones, the perception that I had left behind
something that I loved grew stronger as I came nearer to my destination. I
changed the time on my gold watch that our parents had given me as a gift for my
stopped at Vigo, Lisbon, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Montevideo. Four ports on a
month-long trip, many days sailing across the vast Atlantic where anywhere I
looked I saw only the horizon, which made my stay on board more calm. To pass
the time I remember playing my favorite game, labyrinth, coloring and reading.
There were no children of my age to play with. Torino, who was a waiter from Las
Arenas, took me around the ship and on Sundays we went down to the kitchen where
there were large pots of chocolate and there gave me extra donuts and churros. I
remember celebrating Christmas and Reyes (Wise men), and I received gifts from
Vigo we stopped long enough for the captain to take me to the circus. We sailed
to the Canary Islands and stopped at the port of Tenerife for several hours
before hitting the Atlantic Ocean. In the middle of the ocean we faced a pretty
big storm; it was cold, the wind blew relentlessly and the sea was violent.
It shook us up a bit and I got a little scared at the fury of the sea.
The captain came and tried to me calm telling me that the Amboto
was prepared for these storms, and he told me the story of the voyage of the
Kon-Tiki, an adventurer who a few months earlier, crossed another sea larger
than “ours" and all he had was a raft made of reeds, which are similar to
the reeds that surround the banks of the river Gobelas. It seems calm returned
to my mind because I ran to tell Torino to "not be frightened."
arriving, my anxiety grew about my new and unknown world of my new family and
country. We reached the coast of Brazil, but I did not pay much attention to
anything because my anxiety grew as we came to Rio. Now the temperature was
warmer. We had left Bilbao in winter and we arrived in summer to Montevideo.
Finally the day came; I chose to wear a summer dress. I think the only one I
had. Slowly the ship was entering the Río de la Plata, and soon was in the port
of Montevideo, which was almost across from us. The date was January 15, 1948,
exactly seven years since our parents had left Europe.
Mendi ship was
launched on September 5, 1928, at the shipyards Euskalduna for the shipping
company Sota and Aznar. It was a tramp steamer, for general cargo, with a
continuous deck and four holds. Since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in
1936, it had sailed under the republican flag republican and was controlled by
the Basque Government until August 24, 1937, when the crew went over to the
national side. So it flew the flag of the Government of Burgos (the Franco
Government) until the end of armed conflict. It would then be delivered to
Naviera Aznar, renamed the Monte Amboto.
was intended to sail in large coastal traffic as a ship tramp.
The characteristic of this mode of transport is its high load capacity
and adaptability to transport all kinds of products, volumes and values.
Subsequently, the vessel underwent a transformation, becoming mixed
vessel with a capacity to accommodate 72 passengers, sailing from that time and
for many years, on a regular Northern Spain-South America run, with stops in
Bilbao, Vigo, Lisbon, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. It
also sailed on the Mar del Plata-Mediterranean run. It was scrapped at Santander
on March 3, 1977.
I) Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama - Tributo a nuestra Ama, por Mirentxu Ametzaga
II) La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti - por Xabier I. Ametzaga
III) Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama - por Xabier I. Ametzaga
IV) Publicaciones en Internet relacionadas
|Vicente Ametzaga Aresti - His Biography and his works Published on Wikipedia
Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga - published on Wikipedia
Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren - Information published on Wikipedia