“Imanol”, I said, “tengo vergüenza (I am embarrassed), I can’t get in line with my plate and spoon.”
“Arantza, la vergüenza se guarda en los polsillos (keep your shyness in your pocket),” he answered to me.
I will never forget those words.
We were in Arenys de Mar staying in a rooming house. There were three of us in one room: Imanol, 14 years old, Duni 11, and me, 9 and a half. We had to go to eat in a soup kitchen in town. The town was packed with refugees of the Spanish Civil War that had started in the Summer of 1936, when I was 7 years old. We were bombed out of the Basque Country. My mother had died in the bombing of Carranza (Vizcaya). We were in a farm house when the bombs began to fall while we were eating “arroz con leche” (rice pudding), my favorite dessert. There were many bombings, including the most notorious: Guernica, the city that symbolized Basque ethnicity, was destroyed with incendiary bombs. There was an outcry all over the world, because the planes that were used were mostly German. There were thousands of victims of the Axis nations: German, Italian and Franco-Spain.
This is the story of one of the many thousands of refugees who left Spain for camps in France, and later, to a new life in the Dominican Republic and the United States.