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by Juan Hernando

Living on an almost-island

Santoña Sunset in Santoña. Photo by olatz and licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is a straightforward question: How far back in your family tree can you go? And the answer is almost as small as yesterday’s short story about the rain. Not very far.

I was born and grew up in Santoña, a fishing village of just over ten thousand inhabitants surrounded by a nature reserve: the marshes of Santoña, Victoria and Joyel. We have our Buciero mountain, our Santoña’s bay, our Berria beach and our marshes where every year, thousands of migratory birds rest on their way from north to south to escape the cold winters.

All this nature turns the town into a peninsula, almost an island, and, I suppose, the people of Santoña into a peculiar people. Or maybe it has nothing to do with it. But it is something that has always caught my attention: the passion for being there and coming back when you are far away.

My parents are from Santoña. And so are my parents’ parents. Of my eight great-grandparents, if I remember correctly, seven are from the town and one from the village on the other side of the bay. I don’t have any information about my great-great-grandparents, but if I had to bet on anything, you know…

Just as birds always end up (climate change notwithstanding) coming back here, generation after generation, I think the families in my village are similar. So I wonder if I come from seafaring roots, from land workers, from humble people or from great personalities. I have no land, no compound surnames, and no great inheritance. But I have my village to which I will always return.

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