La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti  

Gure Ama

(Our Mother)


Marie Clark


 Countries 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.

While 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

Lequerica 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.           

Across 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.

Our 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.

I 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 Arenas.

We 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 Arrate.

Arrate, 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).

Aunt 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 Christmas holidays.

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.

Less 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.

On 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 tricks.

With 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 have

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 contempt. An 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 had it

Meanwhile 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 carousels.

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 his allowance.

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 water.

In 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 today.

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.

San 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.

Now 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.

I 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.

            One day in October of 1945 my paternal grandmother, Maria, who lived in Algorta was going to daily Mass at the Church of the Trinity when tripped on the steps of the door fell and broke her hip. She had surgery, but died shortly afterwards of pneumonia at age 83 without her youngest child nearby. I still remember her funeral. I was seven years old.  After her death I had occasionally went to visit Algorta and see my uncles and cousins with whom I played very well. Her death re-opened the wound of separation in our parents who could not give a last goodbye to their parents.

As 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.

We 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.

Our 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 born.

The 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.

In 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 that event.

I 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 otherwise.

Days 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.

December 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.

After 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 First Communion.

We 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 the captain.

In 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."

Almost 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.

Amboto 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.

It 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.


Our Mpther -Our Mother1 -Our Mother2 -Our Mother3 -Our Mother4 -Our Mother5 -Our Mother6 -Our Mother7 

-Our Mother8 -Our Mother9 -Our Mother10 -Our Mother11


I) Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama - Tributo a nuestra Ama, por Mirentxu Ametzaga 


I.1 Vida de Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga -Gure Ama

I.2  Life of Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga - Our Mother

II) La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


II.1 La mujer que acompaño a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

III) Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama - por Xabier I. Ametzaga


III.1 Mis manos quieren hablar - mi poema a mi Ama

IV) Publicaciones en Internet relacionadas 


IV.1 Sitio en Internet que lleva el nombre de Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti

IV.2 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.3 Travesia

IV.4 Reunion familiar Amezagaeguberriak

IV. 5 Antecedentes

IV. 6 Publicacion en Internet de toda la obra de Aita - la que ella ordeno y recopilo

IV. 7 Publicaciones Xamezaga Editor Internet

Dedicatoria y mi homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren Gorostegui - Su esposa y mi ama

Travesia   Antecedentes   Reunion   Fotos     Videos   Slide Show Reunion

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Mercedes Iribarren de Ametzaga.
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editorial Xamezaga


I.1 Linea de Vida  y su Obra

I.2 Poesias en Euskera Recopilacion Total

I.3 Conferencias Recopilacion

I,4 Articulos Periodisticos Recopilacion Total

I.5 Lengua Vasca

I.6 Gernika

I.7 Uruguay

I.8 Venezuela

I.9 Reseñas Biograficas

I.10 Traducciones

I.11 Obras Publicadas

I.12 Semana Vasca en Montevideo

I.13 Ciclo de Clases

I.14 Nota Bio-Bibliografica

I,15 Biografia en Euskera

I.16 Sitio en Internet en Euskera

I.17 Nostalgia

I.18 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Cronologico

I.19 Articulos Periodisticos Indice Alfafabetico

II) OBRAS COMPLETAS - Libros Publicados en Internet


II.1  El Hombre Vasco

II.2 Hombres de la Compañia  Guipuzcoana

II.3  El Elemento Vasco en el siglo XVIII Venezolano

II.4 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

III) INDICE de TEMAS RELACIONADOS. Libros publicados por sus hijos;


III.1 Nere Aita - el exilio vasco - Mirentxu Amezaga 

III.2 Cronicas del Alsina -  Arantzazu Amezaga de Irujo

IV) Sus Hijos Escriben;


IV.1 Los tres Barcos que llevaron a Ama y Aita

IV.2 Travesia

V) Sus Hijos Escriben tras su muerte;


V.1 A mi Aita

V.2 La cancion de mi Padre

VI) Otros aspectos


VI.1 Reunion Familar en su Memoria

VI.2 Exodo

VI.3 Comision del Cuatricentenario de Caracas

VI.4 Inauguracion de la Plaza que lleva su nombre en Algorta

VI.5 Su Pequeño Poema en la Nota Necrologica 4 Febrero 1969

VII) Toda su Obra Publicada convertida en Formato PDF- puede ser leida en dispositivos  e-Book


 VII.1 Amézaga Vicente  Autor Irujo Ametzaga Xabier

 VII.2 Articulos de Prensa

 VII.3 Bio Biografica

 VII.4 Biografia en Euskera

 VII.5 Ciclo de Clases

 VII.6 Ciclo de Conferencias

 VII.7 Nostalgia

 VII.8 El Elemento vasco en el Siglo XVIII Venezolano

 VII.9 El Hombre Vasco

 VII.10 Los Hombres de la Compañia Guipuzcoana

 VII.11 Obras Publicadas

 VII.12 Vicente Antonio de Icuza

 VII.13 Poesias

 VII.14 Relacion de Escritos como Autor

 VII.15 Reseñas Biograficas

 VII.16 Semana Vasca Montevideo

 VII.17 Semana Vasca Montevideo Indice de Articulos

 VII.18 Traducciones

Sitio en Internet en homenaje a Vicente de Ametzaga Aresti.
Unico sitio en Internet, que lleva su nombre, de referencia completa de su vida y su Obra totalmente publicada en Internet, 
Poesias, Articulos de Prensa, sus Libros, completando asi, y cerrando todo lo que se habia escrito en libros sobre el y su vida
Creacion, Edicion y contacto: Xabier Iñaki Ametzaga Iribarren
Blog Xabier Amezaga Iribarren:
Editoriales relacionadas con sus Publicaciones
Editorial Xamezaga
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