As we walked a rural road near a tower whose construction started 12 centuries ago , we were greeted by a man who appeared a bit older than us at the entrance to his estate. The man, who turned out to be 76, had kind eyes and was eager to tell us about himself and his property. He invited us to see his house and gardens and was delighted to learn that Sharon was a gardener, too.
He was from the Basque Arcitio family and had been a jai alai champion in the early 1980s. He took us into his library to show us mementos from his athletic career and his subsequent travels.
His travels took him all over South America and into the U.S. He explained that the latitude and climate of the Cantabrian Sea coast where we are traveling are similar to northern California and Oregon; so he had planted many trees common to the western U.S.
He had planted thousands of trees and flowers on his property and made a business of producing avocados.
Just that morning he had planted some flowers called Margaritas and last week planted a sequoyah tree – a tiny sapling destined for grandeur.
His extended family comes to visit in the summer and he had built a wooden playhouse and jungle gym equipment for the children.
All in all, it was a delightful encounter with somebody who represents the first two regions of Spain we crossed – a son of Basque Country who settled near the edge of Cantabria.
The next day we would enter a third region: Asturias.