From the moment I arrived in the Basque Country I was simply blown away by all the beauty the area has to offer. San Sebastián thus far has definitely surpassed all my greatest expectations regardless of being only four short days into the experience. One of the most amazing aspects of our days in San Sebastián is that each moment is uncertain in the best ways. The days feel longer as a result.
Today, for example, began with beautiful warmth perfect for a beach day along the crystal clear blue ocean of La Playa de La Concha. The expansive sandy beach is perfect for a relaxing afternoon after class. After being at the beach for a few short hours the day feels complete, yet there is time for a whole new excursion to begin.
Following the day spent at the beach, a new adventure ensued as our class ascended El Monte Igueldo to capture the best view of San Sebastián from the top of The Tower. It is no secret that the city truly is breathtaking and it was such a unique perspective to view its beauty from the very top of El Monte Igueldo. The funicular gondola ride takes you up the mountain to enter the park.
The Tower is found within the Monte Igueldo amusement park which is home to some other distinctive attractions, including La Montaña Suiza. La Montaña Suiza is the oldest roller coaster in all of Spain. The ride has a distinctively vintage feel, as it is still man operated by an employee on the cart which is an unseen aspect of amusement park rides in the United States. One of the other main attractions is the Mysterious River. This tranquil water ride around the perimeter of the mountain was unfortunately closed during our visit; however, it offers yet another gorgeous view of the stunning basque terrain.
As our time in the park came to an end, the weather took a mild turn. The clouds pillowed in and the xirimiri, the Basque word describing the soft, misty rain of the local area, ensued. Admittedly, the weather during the earlier part of the day spent swimming and eating gelato was superior, but part of me loves the feeling of xirimiri. Typically when it rains, it pours, but that is not the case here. It is an inexplicably refreshing precipitation that captures the beauty in the unpredictability that each day in the Basque Country has to offer. There is something special about having to live in the moment and not being able to rely upon the predicted forecast.
Even more fitting was viewing the Comb of the Wind sculpture while reflecting on the changes and surprises we encounter each day, as this concept of living in the moment is generally tied into the meaning behind this work. However, in front of the Comb of the Wind exhibit there are several holes in the ground along the way. The idea for this piece was that when the ocean tide rises, the water would spew through the holes and create not only an eye catching visual, but would make music. While the music component was unsuccessful, the water still erupts from the holes.
As for the Comb of the Wind sculpture itself, the pure iron sculpture weighing 10 tons each was built in the 70’s by one of the biggest Basque artists of the time, Eduardo Chillida. The focus of Chillida’s work was an interaction with the natural world. The exhibit includes three separate pieces, each installed directly into the rocks on the hillside. They are stunning structures and because the material is iron, the piece is ever changing. The colors are intense and pictures cannot capture the image in all its glory. The significance of the sculpture is greatly up to individual interpretation. For example, one of the interpretations is that each of the three portions of the sculpture represent the past, present, and future. The iron structure located closest to the public access to the exhibit is said to represent the past. Of the three, this one is the most warped and changed from its natural state. As with life, our past is constantly changing as we go through various experiences and encounter both the positives and the challenges that life has to offer. The furthest point is the representation of the future, which is the portion which appears untouched and the most pristine. The future is what holds opportunity, and will experience change only as it becomes the present. The middle portion of the piece, spaced equally between the other two, is the representation of the present. The meaning many find behind the sculpture as a whole is the importance of finding a balance between the past and the future which is achieved by living in the present, a concept that is so easy to embrace while being in San Sebastian.