Monday, 14 March 2011

landing in St Jean de Luz

The moment that Chinggis Khaan landed in the sleepy Basque fishing port of St Jean de Luz he knew that he had found a second home. He would have struggled to find a more removed place from his wild and frozen Steppe. A multitide of brightly painted fishing boats sat berthed; enormous nets drying across their masts. Tall neatly packed townhouses in equally colourful resplendour watched on from the rim of the harbour, their windows crammed with curious faces. After ten months at sea the sight, sound and smells of this Basque fishing village embellished a maternal caress. The townsfolk lined the dock to welcome their new resident.

"Ahoy there!" shouted a swarthy looking Basque man, "Ongi etorri!".
"Sain baina uu!" replied Chinggis mimicking the welcome.

The dark, olive-skinned man leaned over and offered the Mongol emperor his arm. Pulling him ashore the two men embraced. It had been a long time since Chinggis had last been made to feel this welcome. A young child carrying a white terrine offered the stranger a splendid assortment of freshly caught fish. Chinggis had never tasted fish before but as the crowd looked on in anticipation he quickly swallowed three sardines and gulped greedily from a bottle of Irouleguy wine his new Basque friend had thrust into his hand. His eyes looked around at the people. They looked very different to those from his homeland. He looked forward to finding out more about them; particularly the women.

Basque of the day:- welcome :: ongi etorri