All posts by clive

Christmas Eve in Ituren. The village comes alive: the Joaldunak carrying flares …

Christmas Eve in Ituren. The village comes alive: the Joaldunak carrying flares march off to accompany Olentzero (the Basque charcoal maker) down from the hills accompanied by a donkey bearing presents and excited villagers and children in traditional peasant dress. http://www.pyreneanexperience.com/basque-christmas-traditions-olentzero/




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Les amis du réseau Comète: 14. Lucienne Saboulard †

Some beautiful words by Jean Dassie whose family (parents and sister) worked in the COMET line resistance network in the area of the Bidasoa river during WWII – ending up in concentration camps. These are his words at his sister’s funeral. (The English translation follows).

Les amis du réseau Comète: 14. Lucienne Saboulard †

Nous sommes une association basée à Anglet dont le but de garder le souvenir de ces hommes et de ces femmes du réseau Comète du Pays Basque à qui les aviateurs des forces alliées et d’autres pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale doivent tant.

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The horror of the Calais refugee camp: ‘We feel like we are dying slowly’

The trip from the Pyrenean Experience to the ‘Calais Experience’ was little more than a descent from the Garden of Eden to the Gates of Hell. There are many photos and reports on what it is like in the refugee camps in Calais and it would be impossible to exaggerate the extreme conditions these people are living in and yet, one of the many things that struck me, was the dignity of these people – trying to salvage the vestiges of normality, picking their way through a quagmire of mud and rubbish to brush their teeth at a communal tap or hanging out a child’s jumper to dry on a bush as the rain clouds approach. Known as ‘the jungle’ – unfortunately there really is no other word that better describes it – but it describes the place NOT the people. Had the people who allowed this to happen inhabited this place then the word ‘jungle’ could be applied with no incongruities at all.
I was introduced to the camp by Jesus Denia Medrano from Pamplona, a man of huge heart and energy, working as an independent social activist in collaboration with Doctors of the World, The Red Cross, SOS Racism and many more. The reason of our visit was to organise the arrival of a lorry of supplies leaving Pamplona later this month which meant that I spent a couple of days in the ‘jungle’ – talking and eating with the people; Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Eritrean, Sudanese, Ethiopians … engineers, vets, scientists, architects … listening to their harrowing stories and their hopes of working and studying in the UK. People who want to give, to contribute if only someone would give them a chance. Two days and a lifetime of impressions. This article in the Guardian by Amelia Gentleman says all I could possible say or more – it describes the situation precisely. All I will add is that the volunteers out there desperately need help, living in the same conditions as the people and pitting all they have against a virtually impossible task. HOWEVER, for those with doubts, one small light in the middle of the nightmare is that I returned convinced that whatever aid we send there DOES go straight to the people. Contact: Annie at calaisdonations@gmail.com who works at L’Auberge des Migrants and who I left last week huddled over a heater in a makeshift hut at the back of the warehouse working 12 hr days (like so many others) and dedicated to making a difference. YES – the aid gets through (which means the onus is on us).

The horror of the Calais refugee camp: ‘We feel like we are dying slowly’

Since the summer, the makeshift Jungle has quadrupled in size – it is now home to 6,000 desperate people. They are living in slum conditions, surviving on charity handouts and risking their lives under the wheels of trains. Now winter is coming …

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December – CHRISTMAS SPECIAL – Red berried mistletoe, Spanish Ibex, resident / wintering birds and landscapes.

A fine way to close the year is to enjoy the fresh air and the views from a mountainside, surrounded by a fabulous natural park, with distant views towards the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic coastline. Above there will be soaring Griffon vultures, and perhaps chattering Red-billed choughs. Continue reading December – CHRISTMAS SPECIAL – Red berried mistletoe, Spanish Ibex, resident / wintering birds and landscapes.