This is the city of Zaragoza, in the region of Spain called Aragon. This is the famous Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar church, visited by Popes and pilgrims worldwide. It was here that many people think Hemingway drew inspiration for his short story, Hills Like White Elephants.
Or at least it could be, if you make the mistake of saying Hola instead of Kiaxo as you enter. For this market is nestled deep within the tough, unforgiving village of Zarautz, deep within the tough, unforgiving Gipuzkoa region of the country of Basque.
The tough, unforgiving people here speak Basque. The Basque language has no known connection with any other European language, and many scholars believe it is descended from what the Neanderthal humans spoke long ago. Filled with hard, explosive sounds such “k” and “x”, it is more appropriate to a people with massive jaws used for crushing nuts. Some words (such as love, or kxxittkxakkatxtaxkta) are used so seldomly they are difficult even for the locals to pronounce; other words (such as softness, compassion, generosity) have no local equivalents.
But I not only survived my visit but also thrived: I bought a wonderful, fresh-smoked sausage from the local market, which unfortunately then required hours to extract the fat from between my teeth. My jaw was never designed for crushing nuts.