The Craziest Basque Fiesta There Is
Ever since the word 'Basque' was on my radar, there's been a special festival I've wanted to attend.
Yes. A goose.
This is Antzar Eguna, the fiestas of a tiny coastal town in Bizkaia. Best explained by this video I shot:
Let's review. In this pueblo called Lekeitio, a fishing town of 7,000 inhabitants, there is a party that consists of groups of friends rowing out one at a time in boats to the middle of the port, where a rope is held on each end by a group of strong men.
In the middle of the rope, there is a goose tied by its feet. The designated rider on the boat, who is usually wearing white pants and a sweater, hooks his arm around the goose's neck and jumps out of the boat. The cord proceeds to be flung up and down, up and down, as many times as the hanger-on permits. We're talking heights of 30 feet, then, SPLASH, back down to the water.
It is absolutely incredible.
Without words. I could literally NOT believe my eyes. This is a dead goose....it used to be live, and after reading around I had expected to see a plastic goose. But no...they are several real, dead geese. So strange, so electric, so brute, so... Basque. It being a Basque festival (that dates back more than 100 years) there is some good eating to supplement the excitement.
The plaza and the winding streets of the city are littered with makeshift grills, where pancetta, chorizo, sausages and patties of meat are offered up to hungry spectators. Viewers take their places around the water, wearing shirts with their favorite boat's number and name scrawled on with white paint or chalk. Unless they are awesome old ladies, then they watch como Dios manda, from their bff's apartment above the water.
It's like a football game, where tailgating is done in off of communal grills and with huge plastic cups of cider or coke and wine, and where the action takes place in water and rarely lasts for more than ten seconds a go. Incredible.