Quote

Words form the …

“Words form the thread on which we sting our experiences.” – Aldous Huxley

I’m headed home – STLMOUSA – to experience other things in another place for the merry month of May.

Contemplative composting of these strings of words with surely continue, but alas, posting may not until I return to the Basque Country.  We shall see.

Perhaps between Imo’s pizza, toasted ravioli, and the best baseball + brothers + microbrews on Earth, I’ll reblog elsewhere… check out Biscay Dossier on Tumblr for some lighter fare.

Beti zurekin

Siempre contigo

With y’allways

I will miss ye.

I will miss ye.

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What I Don’t Yet Know and Still Want To Believe – Part 2


Part 2: But Seriously Y’all

What I don’t yet know and still want to believe…

That is, about the Basque Story. The Basque Conundrum. The Basque Conflict. The Basque Saga. The Basque History. The Basque Herstory. The Basque Problem. The Basque Solution. The Basque Enigma.


If Euskadi won it’s independence and became a sovereign nation, the people here would tear each other to pieces.

Without a common foe, its internal divisions would be exponentially amplified. No longer in the shadow of Spain or France, the once external demarcations of ‘us and them’ would implode and once symbiotic alliances would turn inward upon themselves. A mutual enemy,‘them,’ would have to be refashioned from those who were once some of ‘us’. Gone would be the diversity of values and stances, the very checks and balances that democracy depends upon.

There. I said it and I got it out of the way.
This is a fact that I don’t yet know but still want to believe.

In Part 1 of this series, my final meditation wondered about our divergent understandings of courtesy. In this context, I tend towards having mucha cara, ‘a lot of face’ and not letting on enough of what passes through the mind behind it.

I had to get that out of the way, The Mutual Enemy Problem, because it takes a conscious, concerted effort to emulate my new neighbors and just g’on ahead and let it tumble out. I also closed Part 1 alluding to my perspectives, this being the first of a few I’ll look at in this post (and in Part 3 to follow), regarding some serious subjects that could really piss people off.


 

If it weren't for all this deep red libation, high on quality and low on price… sharing the cup makes playing the devil’s advocate a bit easier, no lie. (Full disclosure: this is actually killer Chilean wine from some killer Chilean pals)

If it weren’t for all this deep red libation, high on quality and low on price… sharing the cup makes playing the devil’s advocate a bit easier, no lie. (Full disclosure: this is actually killer Chilean wine from some killer Chilean pals)


Correctness in Offending Political Senses of Humor

Before I go any further, I must clarify how I “Basque in the Reflected Glory” of all this tendency toward critique.

The title of this blog hit me one morning, after weeks of worrying about being too serious and being taken too seriously (or not seriously enough… merrily we go along, go along…. It hit me that if I was worrying about taking myself (and my writing) too seriously then the terrorists had already won.

This America!n’t happen, this America!na won’t let it. So, America!

“Basque-ing in the Reflected Glory” came out of observing the people, institutions and media of Euskadi, in daily self-reflection, raise clenched fists of success proclaiming:

successkidbasque

And man, I couldn’t blame them. I still can’t. Surrounded by all this glory, I could just sit back and soak in all the reflected light of Grade-A, Top-Shelf Awesomeness that I get to be a part of. And then, there’s the innumerable times when I’m belly laughing alone because the hyperbole and hype is just so absurd while simultaneously so warranted, and oh so recognizable…

Greatness superimposed on Greatness, like when all the Power Rangers’ battle vehicles would combine to form the ultimate fighter bot.

Greatness superimposed on Greatness, like when all the Power Rangers’ battle vehicles would combine to form the ultimate fighter bot.

That ditty by Queen is playing in my head, you’d know it even if I wrote the last word of the title in Euskera (remember that the “tx” combo is pronounced like “ch”): “We Are The Txapeldunak”. Consider these lines in particular…

And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few.
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through.

I don’t yet know how to best give this situation the alternative view it deserves. Going along giggling, but only over the matters most trite sure wouldn’t be fair nor sane. The atrocities of Basque story bounce back at the same light-speed as any reflection of glory. The visage of ache and anxiety, humiliation, distress, and betrayal can still look at itself in the mirror and practice the jokes it’ll tell later.

The stand-up comedian, has an interesting position in a particular culture’s spectrum of the arts. Generally speaking, a creator who works in fiction, has a buffer against committing scandals of offensiveness that the comic does not. Their jokes we usually see as a more unfiltered extension of the humorist. We can forgive the author of fiction if they’ve humorously conveyed something too brutal to say live on-stage because they’ve set it back into an imagined frame of an imagined mind.

I’m no comedian. However, I still want to believe that my writing here can be: sufficiently serious in the pursuit of comprehension to risk offending people; respectful enough to swear off radical political correctness; loose and limber enough risk a slap on the hand to get that slap on the knee. A few hits on the tongue-in-cheek target are worth the chance of a miss that, in bad taste, bites down hard.


To Know Thyself is to Know Thine Enemy

So, to revisit the opening poke-in-the-eye polemic, I know I’m not crazy to still want to believe that an EuskalHotMessería would likely be the immediate (but not necessarily permanent) result of independentzia for Euskalherria. I’ll go as far as saying that they’d have a harder time, at least in the first decade or beyond, between themselves than they do between them and their respective Nation-States. With a shallower pool of Us and Them to choose from, we become our own enemy. Euskadi is presently particularly united, but since before the Carlist Wars and up to contemporary voting trends, a Basque consensus is an oxymoron. I would expect to see a sharpening of the already exaggerated divisions between provinces within the Basque Autonomous Community, not to mention the inevitable emergence of rifts between those who cannot or refuse to dissolve their cultural ties to Spain and France.

What I don’t yet know in particular and what leads me to suggest that this would be the case is that:

  1. Don’t nobody know what the economic ramifications would be for the region while Spain and France are still very much feeling (even if not officially registering/calculating) the economic crisis
  2. Don’t nobody know if a newly sovereign Basque Country could independently manage and maintain the their public sector and infrastructure.
  3. Don’t nobody know how trade and relations with Spain and France would be managed and maintained or if Spain and France would impose unofficial sanctions against a new Basque Country (or vice versa). ~and the one I really scratch my head about… as I imagine many would if questioned on the matter~
  4. Don’t nobody know how a rupture would affect these teams’ membership in the Spanish football league. And that, my friends, is a diplomatic emergency if I’ve ever known one.

You think the US has a problem with dependence on foreign oil? You have no idea. You can’t produce this golden elixir in Euskadi. Or oranges. Or almonds. Or even much wheat. All that comes up from the 'EhSpain' (that being the average Spanish-native's English pronunciation of their country) photo credit: 96dpi via photopin cc

You think the US has a problem with dependence on foreign oil? You have no idea. You can’t produce this golden elixir in Euskadi. Or oranges. Or almonds. Or even much wheat. All that comes up from the ‘EhSpain’ (that being the average Spanish-native’s English pronunciation of their country)
photo credit: 96dpi via photopin cc

These are most certainly questions to revisit. For the observer and denizen alike, the rest of 2014 will pan out as an interesting year in matters of statecraft in Europe. In Spain, the Community of Cataluyna plans to present the Catalan public with a ballot referendum this coming November 9th, an electoral survey of sorts, that could determine how much voter support there is for an ever quickening march towards self-determination. I haven’t been following the UK case as closely but it too implies a larger trend; Scotland will vote on a nearly identical measure this coming September 18th.

To be clear, I’m not saying that the Basque Country, Cataluyna or Scotland should or should not break off to form their own independent countries. I don’t yet know that it is necessary to come to any conclusions right now. I still want to believe that in politics, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t – I don’t care if you’re trying to revive a coalition, respawn a movement or level-up your democracy on this continent, that one, or on the largest moon of Saturn.

My underdeveloped view on the matter is that I don’t yet know what to expect. I simply don’t hear enough about how said accomplishment would be handled once on the other side, once these ‘nations’ become ‘states’. I tend to see an immense amount of energy going towards making the shift happen, but I still want to believe that these cohorts have invested considerable planning for most foreseeable geo-political consequences.


By Scot! What these movements and their detractors (not to mention the undecided) symbolize is a new way of thought in governance and international relations. In store are shifts in organization,  macro- and micro- politics/diplomacy/economics… alas, a later post on these matters would be most prudent. photo credit: mikemac29 via photopin cc

By Scot! What these movements and their detractors (not to mention the undecided) symbolize is a new way of thought in governance and international relations. In store are shifts in organization, macro- and micro- politics/diplomacy/economics… alas, a later post on these matters would be most prudent.
photo credit: mikemac29 via photopin cc


 If You Can’t Keep It All Straight, Just Think Octopus

Put all that aside for now. I suggest stowing it in brain’s back pocket, a spot out-of-sight but still handy. Visualize doing so, as we’re about the expand the metaphor.

Imagine a political debate or conflict currently unfolding in your geographic or psychic vicinity. An issue being one that your personal stake in the outcome is moderate to minimal and yet the matter evokes in you both an intellectual interest and emotional ambiguity. As much as I’d like to, I can’t offer any examples because different strokes for different folks.

So you go to bed, laying there thinking about the issue you just imagined, running through a Rolodex of points and counterpoints, pros and cons of the issue. You doze off with these thoughts bouncing around as your noggin goes to work cleaning up synapses after a productive day.

Next morning, you wake up, and you’re an octopus.
You’re just fine out of water for some reason, but you’re definitely an octopus. Thing is, you wake up still only knowing how to move like a human and now you got all these extra appendages and a hundred new ways to stick to things and your brain stem fits the body of another creature and you go on with trying to live your life and think about extremist views without losing track of your extremities and continue to publish neat stuff that makes sense but you got ink spilling out all over the place and it seems really sensible then to change colors to match the seafloor and and then it’s like screw all y’alls, I’m hiding under this rock.


 

Shame on this apathetic octopussy. photo credit: Dani_vr via photopin cc

Shame on this apathetic octopussy.
photo credit: Dani_vr via photopin cc


 

Taking Things Seriously

Just as I don’t yet know how to handle all these tentacles, I can never decide, if I ought to make political statements or not. There’s a couple reasons for this.

Politics is an inherently uncomfortable discipline; some of the greatest thinkers stayed away from it altogether while others who barely think of much at all get wasted on apathy for good reason and none whatsoever.


 

Righteous fire, outrage and immediacy fading like a sticker that once said… something important… Azkuna Matata… it means don’t worry for the rest of your days…

Righteous fire, outrage and immediacy fading like a sticker that once said… something important… Azkuna Matata… it means don’t worry for the rest of your days…

And then, oh the vanity! A good chunk of us want to look good, look smart, look informed, look like we’re holding all the disparate pieces together. We want to look like we have all the answers while trying to look like we’re not even looking for them. We’re stirring the pot of shit and acting like it don’t stink. Vanity manages the reputations; she works filtering the scraggly, loose, hairy and unbecoming bits; she slaves away at curating the second self showcase on all that masses communique.

Political statements make me squirm, for I tire of these things so quickly when they fail to jump or slide or fly. And then suddenly they do jump and slide and fly, as you drink a cup of coffee in front of the building where a lawyer was arrested for dubious reasons less than 24 hours before; as your boyfriend’s aunt grieves her cousins and uncles behind bars for crimes of ‘politics’; as your Euskera teacher is fired because they were involved in the cause; as that degree they earned in prison got them in front of the class.

Politics for the outsider – the expat, the immigrant – is a slow mediation. For me, a closing in magnification leads to identification; that’s how we come to personal conclusions by reason and necessary emotional involvement; pant-staining residues of what a place makes of us.

I don’t yet know what I have the right to protest. I still want to believe that anybody who shows up to a march engages in a little bit of voyeurism. Frankly, I only agree with some of their discontentment and all of their mobilization. I go for the private bodies and public speech filling a common space, the private property stacked tall and elbows cramped. I still want to believe that my permission slip is being alive, and that agreeing with some but never all their demands is plenty.

Part of me wonders, not yet knowing: what opinions do I have a right to here, given that I’ve splashed into the depths of a day-to-day elsewhere and slithered away from the bubbling crockpot of scorching red-white-&-blue vitriol – it leaves the taste buds blistered with a suction grip. And still, the emotional distance and physical closeness of involving myself in these Iberian issues makes it much easier to portray with sound, symbol and presence my support for stances whose entirety and implications I don’t yet know.

I’m not a political scientist and I don’t profess to be. Nevertheless, I still want to believe that I must interact with a political world, one in which the borders drawn and imagine, could appear or disappear as early as next year.

In Part 3 to follow, I’ll BIRG and bitch a little more about the political as personal and the need to interact with these goings-on. Because I still want to believe that as a woman, I must address the discomfort + disorientation as well as delight that comes with navigating the quasi-matriarchy of Basque society.

To be confused… to be contained… to be continued…


(Source of the W. Blake quote – besides the obvious coiner Blake himself – is Paddy Woodworth’s ‘Acknowledgments’ in his book, The Basque Country: A Cultural History. Goooooooooood stuff. I’ll surely be quoting him often in the future.

11-M, the 11th of March of 2004: 10 years after

First, the names* of those who are no longer sharing this life with their families and friends, nor with their co-workers and neighbors, nor with their fellow passengers and pedestrians:

ABAD QUIJADA EVA BELEN
ABRIL ALEGRE OSCAR
ACERO USHIÑA LILIANA GUILLERMINA
AGUADO ROJANO FLORENCIO
ALONSO RODRIGUEZ JUAN ALBERTO
ALVAREZ GONZALEZ MARIA JOSEFA
ANDRIANOV ANDRIYAN ASENOV
APARICIO SOMOLINOS MARIA NURIA
ARENAS BARROSO ALBERTO
ASTOCONDOR MASGO NEIL HEBE
AVILA JIMENEZ ANA ISABEL
BADAJOZ CANO MIGUEL ANGEL
BALLESTEROS IBARRA SUSANA
BARAHONA IMEDIO FRANCISCO JAVIER
BARAJAS DIAZ GONZALO
BEDOYA GLORIA INES
BEN SALAH IMDDAOUAN SANAE
BENITO SAMANIEGO RODOLFO
BODEA ANCA VALERIA
BOGDAN LIVIA
BRASERO MURGA FLORENCIO
BRAVO SEGOVIA TRINIDAD
BRYK ALINA MARIA
BUDAI STEFAN
BUDI TIBOR
CABREJAS BURILLO MARIA PILAR
CABRERO PEREZ RODRIGO
CALVO GARCIA MILAGROS
CANO CAMPOS SONIA
CANO MARTINEZ ALICIA
CARRILLERO BAEZA JOSE MARIA
CARRION FRANCO ALVARO
CASAS TORRESANO FRANCISCO JAVIER
CASTILLO MUÑOZ CIPRIANO
CASTILLO SEVILLANO INMACULADA
CENTENERA MONTALVO SARA
CISNEROS VILLACIS OSWALDO MANUEL
CIUDAD REAL DIAZ MARIA EUGENIA
CONTRERAS ORTIZ JACQUELINE
CONTRERAS SANCHEZ MARIA SOLEDAD
CRIADO PLEITER MARÍA PAZ
DE BENITO CABOBLANCO ESTEBAN MARTIN
DE LAS HERAS CORREA SERGIO
DE LUNA OCAÑA MIGUEL
DE MIGUEL JIMENEZ ALVARO
DEL AMO AGUADO JUAN CARLOS
DEL RIO MENENDEZ MARTA
DEL RIO MENENDEZ NURIA
DIAC NICOLETA
DIAZ HERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
DIMA GEORGETA GABRIELA
DIMITROVA PAUNOVA TINKA
DIMITROVA VASILEVA KALINA
DJOCO SAM
DOS SANTOS SILVA SERGIO
DURAN SANTIAGO MARIA DOLORES
ELAMRATI OSAMA
ENCINAS SORIANO SARA
FERNANDEZ DAVILA CARLOS MARINO
FERNANDEZ DEL AMO MARIA
FERRER REYMADO REX
FIGUEROA BRAVO HECTOR MANUEL
FRUTOS ROSIQUE JULIA
FUENTES FERNANDEZ Mª DOLORES
GALLARDO OLMO JOSE
GALLEGO TRIGUERO JOSE RAUL
GAMIZ TORRES MARIA PILAR
GARCIA ALFAGEME ABEL
GARCIA ARNAIZ JUAN LUIS
GARCIA FERNANDEZ BEATRIZ
GARCIA GARCIA-MOÑINO MARIA DE LAS NIEVES
GARCIA GONZALEZ ENRIQUE
GARCIA MARTINEZ CRISTINA AURELIA
GARCIA PRESA CARLOS ALBERTO
GARCIA SANCHEZ JOSE
GARCIA SANCHEZ JOSE MARIA
GARROTE PLAZA JAVIER
GENEVA PETRICA
GIL PEREZ (Y FETO) ANA ISABEL
GOMEZ GUDIÑA OSCAR
GONZALEZ GAGO FELIX
GONZALEZ GARCIA ANGELICA
GONZALEZ GRANDE TERESA
GONZALEZ ROQUE ELIAS
GRACIA GARCIA JUAN MIGUEL
GUERRERO CABRERA JAVIER
GUTIERREZ GARCIA BERTA MARIA
HERMIDA MARTIN PEDRO
IGLESIAS LOPEZ ALEJANDRA
ITAIBEN MOHAMED
IZQUIERDO ASANZA PABLO
JARO NARRILLOS Mª TERESA
KLADKOVOY OLEKSANDR
LAFORGA BAJON LAURA ISABEL
LEON MOYANO MARIA VICTORIA
LOMINCHAR ALONSO MARIA DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ DIAZ MIRIAM
LOPEZ PARDO Mª DEL CARMEN
LOPEZ RAMOS Mª CRISTINA
LOPEZ-MENCHERO MORAGA JOSE MARIA
MACÍAS RODRÍGUEZ MARÍA JESÚS
MANCEBO ZAFORAS FCO JAVIER
MANZANO PEREZ ANGEL
MARIN CHIVA VICENTE
MARÍN MORA ANTONIO
MARTÍN BAEZA BEGOÑA
MARTIN FERNANDEZ ANA
MARTIN PACHECO LUIS ANDRES
MARTIN REJAS MARIA PILAR
MARTINAS ALOIS
MARTINEZ RODRIGUEZ CARMEN MONICA
MELGUIZO MARTINEZ MIRIAN
MENGIBAR JIMENEZ JAVIER
MICHELL RODRIGUEZ MICHAEL
MODOL STEFAN
MOPOCITA MOPOCITA SEGUNDO VICTOR
MORA DONOSO ENCARNACION
MORA VALERO Mª TERESA
MORAL GARCIA JULIA
MORENO ARAGONES FRANCISCO
MORENO ISARCH JOSE RAMON
MORENO SANTIAGO EUGENIO
MORIS CRESPO JUAN PABLO
MUÑOZ LARA JUAN
NARVAEZ DE LA ROSA FRANCISCO JOSE
NEGRU MARIANA
NOGALES GUERRERO ISMAEL
NOVELLON MARTINEZ INES
ORGAZ ORGAZ MIGUEL ANGEL
PARDILLOS CHECA ANGEL
PARRONDO ANTON SONIA
PASTOR PEREZ JUAN FRANCISCO
PAZ MANJON DANIEL
PEDRAZA PINO JOSEFA
PEDRAZA RIVERO MIRIAN
PELLICARI LOPEZOSA ROBERTO
PEREZ MATEO Mª PILAR
PINEL ALONSO FELIPE
PLASENCIA HERNANDEZ MARTHA SCARLETT
PLES ELENA
POLO REMARTINEZ MARIA LUISA
POPA IONUT
POPESCU EMILIAN
PRIETO HUMANES MIGUEL ANGEL
QUESADA BUENO FRANCISCO ANTONIO
RAMIREZ BEDOYA JOHN JAIRO
RAMOS LOZANO LAURA
REYES MATEOS MIGUEL
RODRIGUEZ CASANOVA JORGE
RODRIGUEZ CASTELL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ DE LA TORRE Mª SOLEDAD
RODRIGUEZ RODRIGUEZ ANGEL LUIS
RODRIGUEZ SANCHEZ FRANCISCO JAVIER
ROGADO ESCRIBANO AMBROSIO
ROMERO SANCHEZ CRISTINA
RZACA PATRICIA
RZACA WIESLAW
SABALETE SANCHEZ ANTONIO
SANCHEZ LOPEZ SERGIO
SANCHEZ MAMAJON MARÍA ISABEL
SANCHEZ QUISPE JUAN ANTONIO
SANCHEZ-DEHESA FRANCES BALBINA
SANTAMARIA GARCIA DAVID
SANZ MORALES JUAN CARLOS
SANZ PEREZ EDUARDO
SENENT PALLAROLA GUILLERMO
SERRANO LASTRA MIGUEL ANTONIO
SERRANO LOPEZ RAFAEL
SFEATLU PAULA MIHAELA
SIERRA SERON FEDERICO MIGUEL
SIMON GONZALEZ DOMNINO
SOLER INIESTA MARIA SUSANA
SOTO ARRANZ CARLOS
STAYKOVA MARIA IVANOVA
SUBERVIELLE MARION CINTIA
SUCIU ANLEXANDRU HORACIU
SZPILA DANUTA TERESA
TENESACA BETANCOURT JOSE LUIS
TORIBIO PASCUAL IRIS
TORRES MENDOZA NEIL FERNANDO
TORTOSA GARCIA CARLOS
TUDANCA HERNANDEZ MARIA TERESA
UTRILLA ESCRIBANO JESUS
VALDERRAMA LOPEZ JOSE MIGEL
VALDES RUIZ SAUL
VEGA MINGO MERCEDES
VILELA FERNANDEZ DAVID
ZAMORA GUTIERREZ JUAN RAMON
ZOKHNYUK YAROSLAV
ZSIGOVSZKI CSABA

[List source: El Mundo]
*Note: Names are listed in the following order, 1st Last Name – 2nd Last Name – First Name

photo credit: arquitextonica via photopin cc

Atocha Station Monument (the subterranean perspective of the glass cylinder) inscribed with messages left by mourners in the days after the attacks – photo credit: arquitextonica via photopin cc

This is not an opportunity to take advantage of towards some end. Having said that, it is a moment set apart and deserving of reflection.

On March 11, 2004 beginning at 7:37AM, multiple explosions on 4 commuter trains arriving and in route to Madrid’s Atocha Central Station killed 192 people from 14 countries and wounded nearly 2,000 more.

Today is, in light of it’s significance, the deadline for me to broach the broad motif of political violence. Despite my absorptions of and reflections on the societies (Spain, Basque Country and USA) in which I interact, there remains in me a deep temptation to leave analysis and interpretation for later, to procrastinate and push off this endlessly complicated and sociolinguistically-loaded topic, for another day down the road, for some impossible moment in which I conclude that I am completely, thoroughly and objectively informed.

Such an omission, however, would do no justice to the victims of a history of violence that has spanned over 100 years; insecurity of conscience offers no hand to the people caught in cycles of action and reaction; perfectionist inaction fails to reveal the diverse persuasions and identities entwined in conflict. To exclude any additional narratives to the Big Story of History is an easy and often unnoticeable form of injustice.

Without being able to quote my source, the definition of the word that I find most clear is that terrorism is the use of the tactics of war in a civil setting, against civilian targets. I would add one thing: terrorists act with symbolic purpose against a symbolic target, in attempts to communicate a message.

The World Trade Center buildings and those occupying them stood and fell to acts of terrorism, symbols of sociocultural values manifest in physical targets. The terrorists of 11-M saw a symbolic target in the peoples’ trust of public transportation, specifically in a rail system whose great expansion began in the first years of Franco’s dictatorship. That fruit of fascism, reclaimed as a tool of democracy and plurality, contributed to the multicultural makeup of contemporary Iberia. Striking the center of these values (not to mention similar patterns in the London attacks a year later) was, I suspect, an attempt to halt social progress by obscuring it beneath bloodshed. Public transport acts as an equalizer of individuals and its existence implies freedom of movement, a basic right of any free people. The preservation of liberty requires the active use of the rights and responsibilities it imparts. I am not alone in witnessing these societies fulfill said responsibilities by rejecting the use of violence. I am not alone in witnessing these societies exercise said rights by expressing the narratives that allow for peace.

I do not take the use of the term terrorism lightly. The word and it’s variants have been overused, underused, politicized and disguised. From here on out, at some points I will find it necessary to invoke it and at others I will refuse to do so. It’s a puzzle that adds new pieces on a nearly daily basis and thus requires careful consideration that will inevitably evolve as well.

What does not change is the finality of trauma in body and mind. And I am reminded in concluding that despite my best intentions and all the words I can muster, I also owe some silence to the voices that never caught the train back home.

photo credit: frado76 via photopin cc

photo credit: frado76 via photopin cc