I’m sitting on the beach at Bakio, Spain, two towns away from Mandaka, to my right there are steep cliffs jutting out of the ocean, the rocks below getting smashed by white water. Several houses surround, perched on top of a cliff, bright red, brown and black cliffs surround, behind and to my left, seven smaller rocks are scattered in an almost perfect line to the shore. A small fishing village just beyond engulfed by olive mountains. Narrow winding streets that seem like one way roads. This is nothing like my hometown in Australia.
The drive from San Sebastian to Mundaka is quite scary. The mountains never ending, steep garnets of earth, stunning scenery of the coastline. Mandaka blows my mind, the streets paved in stone, houses of ancient brick; bewilder me, to think the strength of a building, to withstand the years, the weather, the war, and civilisation.
The hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe sits before me in utter domination. Spinning from the ocean, perched upon a rock, on a cone-shaped island. Walking across a bridge which transitions into a windy pebble stone staircase, zigzags across the ocean into the sky, to a tiny church on its highest point that is dedicated to John the Baptist. Legend has it, after you have completed the climb, you should ring the old bell three times and make a wish. How miraculous, how deeply moving to be somewhere so affecting.