Friday, June 23, 2017

Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d'Andorra), also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France.

Created under a charter in 988, the present principality was formed in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Spain, and the President of France.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 85,000. Its capital Andorra la Vella is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 ft) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.
Andorra's tourism services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. In 2013, the people of Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, according to The Lancet.
Not many berets in this Catalan speaking country, but they are (were) present!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Subdudes

The Subdudes (stylized as The subdudes) are an American roots rock group from New Orleans. 
Their music blends folk, swamp pop, New Orleans rhythm and blues, Louisiana blues, country, cajun/zydeco, funk, soul and gospel with harmonic vocals.
Their sound is notable for the band's substitution of a tambourine player for a drummer. The subdudes formed in 1987 through a music venue in New Orleans called Tipitinas.
Thanks Paul




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Pilgrim to Mont-Saint-Michel

This fantastic picture was sent to me by a visitor of The Beret Project: Pierre Degl Innocenti: 
I'll quote Pierre:  "Last year, between August 7th and 11th, I went to Normandy to go hiking with friends. We traveled approximately 100 kilometers to go from Vire to Mont-Saint-Michel. It is the ancient path of the pilgrims. We crossed the bay on foot, without shoes, with a guide to avoid marshes, water holes, and shifting sands. Only 7 or 8 kilometers, but these were the last and my legs were aching. The only thing that relieved me (and made my so-called friends laugh) was to kneel down. I had become a true pilgrim, humbly going to God ... and to the liter of beer I dreamed of at the end of the adventure."
Thanks Pierre

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Red Txapelas of the Basque and Navarre's Police

This colourful map, titled Police Map of Navarra, shows the distribution of the various law enforcement agencies in the province of Navarra. There are four different agencies, among which the Guardia Civil with their (in)famous tricornos, but more interesting for us boineros are the berets worn by the Policía foral de Navarra (in Basque the Foruzaingoa) and the National Police (or El Cuerpo Nacional de Policía - CNP).
Where the CNP wear a very “middle of the road” military style beret, the Foruzaingoa adopted the beautiful bright red taxepla (similar to the Basque Regional Police and the Police of Bilbao Municipality).
All three have their distinctive insignia woven into the txapela. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Beards and (Military) Berets

Beards and Berets (with or without pipe) is a natural combination, but servicemen with beret and beard... A very rare occasion.
Somehow, the military (of most Western countries at least), collectively suffers from pogonophobia (the phobic fear of beards).
Typical exceptions were made for personnel of submarines (daily shaving in the confined space of a submarine is no sinecure), chaplains and... Chasseurs Alpins/Ardennais.
The fact that these regiments get away with wearing Basque berets (versus the military "naked" style beret) reflects a more humane attitude towards facial hair too. 


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Black Beret / Boina negra; a poem

Black, beret
Castilian, Aragonese, Andalusian,
Galician, Basque, Extremadura and Murcia.

Black beret, full of wisdom,
Canary Islands, Melilla, Valencia, the
Balearic Islands, Ceuta or Catalan.

Black beret sitting
on a stone slab seeing the Sea,
in the snow at the foot of the mountains,
in the park of any city,
in the silence of any house.

Black beret,
mute cries and forgotten words;
of vessels are broken to shed illusions;
of eagerness to explain calmly
clarity, past the murky waters
of the river, before arriving at the bar.
Boina negra,
castellana, aragonesa, andaluza,
gallega, vasca, extremeña o murciana.

Boina Negra, llena de sabiduría,
canaria, de Melilla, valenciana,
balear, ceutí o catalana.

Boina negra sentada
en una losa de piedra viendo al Mar,
en la nieve al pie de las montañas,
en el parque de cualquier ciudad,
en el silencio de cualquier casa.

Boina Negra,
de gritos mudos y palabras olvidadas;
de vasijas rotas con ilusiones derramadas;
de ansias por poder explicar con calma
la claridad, pasadas las turbias aguas
del río, antes de llegar a la barra.


por/by Balueiro

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gaucho chileno, XI Región de Aisén

A very poor quality video of only 17 seconds, but the poetry of this Chilean gaucho is well worth listening to (it sounds lovely, even when you don't understand Spanish).
video
Free translation: 
There is no fence that can stop destiny 
Life is like time, it gallops without ease e. 
The years are piling on us... 
And the last sentence I could not quite decipher...
Thanks Ariel

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Shutters of Hôtel de France in Arudy

The day before meeting the people at Boneteria Auloronesa in Oloron Sainte Marie last May, I spent the night in Arudy, a small town close by, where I found the Hôtel de France.
Big surprise: even the knobs of the window shutters are fitted with a beret! That's what I call dedication to tradition. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Murals in the Basque Country

Walking around the cities of the Spanish Basque Country, it is impossible not to notice how many murals there are (and how little graffiti!).
Many have to do with the Basque struggle for independence or to get ETA prisoners closer to home (instead of the added punishment to keep these prisoners on the Canary Islands and other remote places).  
Others are simply an expression of feelings, portraying idols or bands, cartoons, etc.Whatever the subjects, many depict a beret!
I personally was much taken by this mural I found in Tolosa; the Ugly Duckling going his own way, not following the dictator like all the other ducklings. Naturally, the Ugly Duckling wears a beret!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sombrerería Gorostiaga from Bilbao

One of the oldest hat shops continuously in operation since its beginnings is Sombrerería Gorostiaga in Bilbao. It was the year 1854 when the merchant Fructuoso Gorostiaga opened his shop in the calle Bidebarrieta. Years later he would move to Calle del Victor and has been there ever since, making custom hats and txapelas.
These days, the great-grandsons of the then master hat-maker are still behind the counter of the millinery.
Throughout all these years, Sombrerería Gorostiaga has witnessed the numerous social changes that have occurred and that have influenced the way of dressing.
The golden age of business and hat miller activity was in the first decades of the twentieth century, when hats were much more than an accessory and a marked symbol of elegance. The 50s would be a great change and the type of hat became an element of differentiation of the social classes.
Emilio Pirla is now the fourth generation of the family that runs the establishment. Its activity is dedicated to the preparation and sale of custom hats, often reproductions of period pieces, headdresses and txapelas.
Emilio Pirla is a specialist in the field and the last of the hatters remaining in the north of Spain. He does not let go of his hat or txapela any day of the year, is an enthusiast of this garment and always likes to explain everything in detail, but with him, the business will disappear.
Among the clientele of Gorostiaga Sombrerería are today’s artists like Loquillo, Fito or Álex Angulo. Today the production focuses on a very high percentage in txapelas and to a lesser extent reproductions of vintage hats, , hats for ladies or hats that by circumstances are fashionable at certain times, in the style of films or TV series.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Monuments and Pyrenean Escape Routes


The Pyrenees have long been a natural border between two nation states; France and Spain. But more than that, during the last century it was also a border between countries at war and neutrality, a border between occupation and a country that lead to freedom.
Many are the monuments that remind one of this border, even though the actual border is practically non existent these days.
Driving around the French side of the border, many monuments tell of resistance fighters, the brave people who helped Jews and downed Allied airmen escape to "neutral" Spain, of civilians and soldiers who crossed the mountains to join the Allied forces.
I find it interesting how alive this subject still is; the many novels and films that have come out recently, telling us about the escape routes and the people living in the foothills of the Pyrenees. 
Books like Cruel Crossing, The Freedom LineLove and War in the Pyrenees and The Nightingale have all come out in the past few years, to name only a few. You can order with great discounts and free delivery by clicking these links.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Puente Bizkaya (2)

Following yesterday’s post, in June 1937, before the arrival of the Nationalist Army, the Battalion of Engineers of the Army of the North was ordered to destroy all the means that would allow crossing the River Nervión, to stop the advance of Franco’s troops.
In the early hours of June 17, a great explosion wounds the Puente Bizkaia, whose crossbar falls in the waters of the estuary.
Its reconstruction will have to wait two more years. This period of forced rest has been the only “vacation” of the Puente Bizkaia throughout its existence of more than a century.
On August 5, 1939, the Bureau of Ports of the Public Works Department of Vizcaya, issued Order No. 3880 approving the project to rebuild the Puente Bizkaia.
The works go without major incidents, except for strong winds suffered a few days before the end of the works, which did not cause major incidents. Finally, on June 19, 1941, a little less than two years after the beginning of the reconstruction, the service was reopened.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Vizcaya Bridge at Portugalete

The Vizcaya Bridge is a transporter bridge that links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas (part of Getxo) in the Biscay province of Spain, crossing the mouth of the Nervion River.
People in the area, and even the official website, commonly call it the Puente Colgante (literally "hanging bridge", used for suspension bridge in Spanish), although its structure is quite different from a suspension bridge.
It is the world's oldest transporter bridge and was built in 1893, designed by Alberto Palacio, one of Gustave Eiffel's disciples. It was the solution given by the engineer to the problem of connecting the towns of Portugalete and Getxo without disrupting the maritime traffic of the Port of Bilbao and without having to build a massive structure with long ramps. Palacio wanted to design a bridge which could transport passengers and cargo, and that could allow ships to go through. Palacio's shuttle bridge was adequate and could be built for a reasonable price.
The service was only interrupted once, for four years, during the Spanish Civil War, when the upper section was dynamited. From his house in Portugalete, Palacio saw his masterpiece partially destroyed just before his own death.
On July 13, 2006, the Vizcaya Bridge was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In Spain, it is the only monument in the Industrial Heritage category. UNESCO considers the bridge to be a perfect combination of beauty and functionality.
It was the first to use a combination of iron technology and new steel cables which began a new form of constructing bridges which was later imitated throughout the world.
The bridge, still in use, is 164 meters long, and its gondola can transport six cars and several dozen passengers in one and a half minutes. Pedestrians can actually walk across the top level, taken up and down by elevator - a fantastic trip and one of my personal highlights of visiting Euskal Herria.
It operates every 8 minutes during the day (every hour at night), all year round. 
And in case you wonder what all this has to do with berets... the bridge keeper and workers had their own uniform Basque berets!