For those of you who may be lucky enough to get to visit the Basque Country sometime, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite places with you.
At the easternmost extent of the Basque Country, deep in the heart of the mountains separating Zuberoa (or Xiberoa) from Navarre, lies the Kakueta Gorge. For some, the explosion of flora that greets those entering into the gorge, the product of a temperate microclimate in this normally harsher mountain landscape, reminds them of the Amazon Rain Forest. For others, its turquoise lake, the vultures that habitually circle overhead, and the chance of seeing strange creatures like the Pyrenean Desman, lend an otherwordly, almost Lord of the Rings-like quality to the landscape.
The Kakueta Gorge is in the terrain of a village known as Sainte-Engrâce (in French) or Santazi, Santa Grazi, or Urdatx (in Basque). The village and its inhabitants have been the object of study of the Center’s own Sandra Ott in her book, The Circle of Mountains. This ethnography, one of the best ever written about a Basque community, addresses multiple dimensions of Basque culture in this this small, isolated community. It demonstrates in vivid detail how people interact not just with one another but with the landscape around them.