The Basque Country, Gascony, and Hautes-Pyrénées Feature
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Gonzo Over Games: Basque Sports
If you are gonzo over games, you've come to the right place. Perhaps the best known and most spectacular of Basque sports is the ancestral ball game of pelota, a descendant of the medieval jeux de paume (literally, palm games), a fundamental element of rural Basque culture. A Basque village without a fronton (backboard and pelota court) is as unimaginable as an American town lacking a baseball diamond.
There are many versions and variations on this graceful, fast-paced sport, played with the bare hand, wooden bats, or curved basketlike gloves; a real wicker chistera—the wicker bat used in the game—is an interesting souvenir to buy (and makes a very pretty fruit basket, but let no Basque hear that bit of heresy).
Other rural Basque sports include scything, wood-chopping and -sawing, sack hauling, stone lifting, tug-of-war, competitive whaleboat rowing, and, for those who really want to take the weight of the world on their shoulders, orga yoko, or cart lifting—hefting and moving a 346-kilo (761-pound) hay wagon (you read it here).
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