There are many people I’ve met on my journey who will remain in my memory forever. Yanira is one of those persons. She is refreshing to be around, upbeat and positive. She took me under her wing almost from the beginning of my checking into the hostel, and took a keen interest in what I want to accomplish this year.
Yesterday on the trip to the top of a mountain, in a town called, La Arboleda, as part of the itinerary she chose for me, she gave me a bit of her personal story. Here’s a lovely and healthy looking young lady with two children, a great job, and a one year cancer survivor.
“The doctors call me a miracle,” she smiled as she drove through the valley, after leaving Bilbao.
All along the way, we saw cities below as our journey took us further away. At one point she stopped and we got out of the car so she could point out the ocean, the mountains and the cities we passed that were now below us.
We drove through the city, Valle de Trapaga, where she lives with her mother and two children, and then up the hill, winding around and around until we got to the top and a quaint little village.
She confessed that there is a better road than the old one we were on, but she prefers the old one. A woman who thinks like me, for sure.
The village is not on the regular tourist map, so I felt privileged to be there. Since yesterday was a national holiday, when we arrived we saw men playing cards at a table near a bar. And later another table of men played inside the bar.
She pointed out a restaurant, Zuhastieta, that specializes in serving beans. Beans were a staple for the men, who mined on the hill, and when food was scarce, they ate beans.
Yanira was a manager of a fish market in the small town for eight years, so everywhere we walked, people gave her a hug and a kiss on each cheek. When I was introduced, I also got kissed on both cheeks. Yanira at the same time was working toward her master’s degree and her project was to produce a hotel in the town.
Yanira and I met up with two of her friends and we walked around the little village, and saw a golf course that had horses grazing on it. Seems there’s a rift between the farmers and the golf course. Farmers say the property belongs to them, and the golf course folks say it belongs to them and horses have no rights to it. It looked to me the horses were getting the best feed money could buy, but for how long no one knows.
I wasn’t clear who used the golf course, because, as I said, it’s not a touristy town, but golfers seem to be able to find a small course, one way or another.
The village was built long ago during the early mining days, when men lived on the mountain to mine for iron. There are still barracks (that are now used for housing families) where the miners stayed during the week, but on the weekends, and for those fellows who didn’t live on the mountain, they got a train ride down a steep incline to the bottom of the hill.
And that is what Yanira had in mind for me. After spending a bit of time with her friends, and drinking a cup of coffee in the bar, and walking and talking a bit, it was time for her to take me to the train.
It’s working now even though miners are no longer mining in the town. The townsfolk take the train for business that requires a bigger town, or for numerous reasons, I suppose.
The track is steep, straight down, going through a corridor of walls of rock formations, flora and fauna, houses, gardens, and even a cow. Then I saw Yanira wave at me outside of her car. She hopped back in the car and met me down below at the bottom where the train stops and picks up passengers for the steep ride up the hill.
After the train ride and visit to the small village, we stopped at the town where she lives with her mother.
“I told my mother about you and I want her to meet you.” Yanira said. However, when we got to the apartment, her mother was friendly, but sick with the flu, so we stayed long enough for a glass of wine, and they generously gave me use of the internet telephone where I could call my friends in Soledad and my aunt in Sacramento. It was about the same time my sons would be at work, so I didn’t call them, although I could have.
Yanira is a generous, giving, loving, upbeat person, who I’m proud to call a friend.
Today, at her suggestion, I spent the day in San Sebastian. That will be my story for tomorrow.