- Recording date:
- Owner: Euskarabidea-mediateka
- Researcher: Joseba Salaberri
- Main theme: Free conversation: ancient way of life of Baztan, agriculture, work in the forest, shepherd in America, contraband.
- View allowed: Free
- Publication allowed: Limited
- Sound quality: Normal
|Forty years ago most people from the Baztan were working on the land. But as it was not economical enough to support everyone in the house, many went off to America or to France to work in the hills. At that time there were no machines and every thing was done by hand so that many people were needed to cut down the trees. They would go up in March and stay there until the winter. The trunks were brought out to the side of the road by animals and from there it was taken down.The process.For breakfast they would eat streaky bacon and at lunch, broad beans. For dinner, streaky bacon again, or broad beans.
|Other young men were going off to America, just like him. They would go on a three-year contract. They were put in charge of two thousand sheep. They would move from place to place wherever there was pasture land. The owner would bring food up to them but they had to look after themselves and do the cooking and even make the bread which was the hardest part. The owner would give them flour and yeast but they had to make the bread themselves. There were times when they had a lot of time on their hands, but other times, especially when the sheep were lambing, when they no time for anything. They had to wake up earlier than the sheep so that they would not be scattered about. The black sheep were the ones who controlled the others. It was impossible to count all of them but to see the black ones was easier. When one of them was missing they would tell the owner that a sheep was missing. Then the owner would go down and rent a light plane and find the sheep easily. When the sheep from one flock got mixed in with those of another flock the owner would not say anything to the other owner. But as the sheep had a brand on their back it was easy to distinguish them from the light plane.Sometimes he would get together with other shepherds. There were a lot of Greeks at the shepherding. They were forced to learn English. But as most of the owners could speak some Spanish, the Basques did not have the same urgency about learning English.When the contract was up they asked for the residency papers so that they could stay on. But one morning the foreman came along and told them that they had to be in Madrid within two days. They returned to the town and got themselves ready and the next morning they headed back to Madrid by plane. At that time working in the mountains was paid at about fifteen thousand pesetas per month. As there was no place that they could spend the money, they would save it. They would send the money home twice a year.
|Others worked as smugglers. What was most taken over from France was haberdashery stuff. Nylons, thread, angora, wool, bobbins… They packets would weigh 30-40 kilos. The smuggling was almost always done by night and without any kind of light because the light could be seen from afar.At the beginning they used to do very long hauls. Later they divided it into sections and shared the takings. Most of it would go to Barcelona. The Guards surprised him three times and as they lost the goods they did not get paid for those nights. The Guards would try not to shoot, so that the others would not know that they were there. In the dangerous spots they would go one by one and in the less dangerous spots, two by two.