The old smuggler hoisted the xahako and arced a hissing stream of wine from the goatskin into his open mouth without a wasted drop. Whether this was a display of skill or frugality was hard to say; he was said to have ample amounts of both qualities.
He wiped his beard with his hand and smiled. “You, Kakamutiko! Did you in your indolence forget the bread? God help us if we starve to death.”
“No, Uncle,” said the young man. He produced a squat loaf from his satchel and handed it across.
Outside the hut the wind moaned through the passes, giving the mountains a voice. The fire danced in the hearth, throwing queer shadows on the ancient stone walls.
“And the sausage, for the love of God?” said the old man. “Please tell me you did not neglect that.”
The boy produced a string of blood-red chorizo and a clasp-knife.
“Arraioa!” exclaimed the smuggler. “You’d make a good wife!”
The Basque have lived in the Pyrenees for centuries, inhabiting villages in the forbidding mountains that straddle France and Spain. Their language is the most ancient in Europe and is unrelated to any other tongue.
A fiercely proud and strong people, they have long struggled for national independence, sometimes violently.
Their contributions to culture include the “Spanish” goatskin wine bag and the “French” beret.