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Aunt Mertxe’s menu

I arrive in Berango with a knot in my stomach. The town hasn't changed much: the same people still go to the same bars, and the streets that used to be empty still are. It's me who has changed somewhat, having shed five kilos and gained a shipwrecked appearance. Aunt Mertxe awaits me in number 39 Berangotxu Street, ready to hit the kitchen but a little shy for the camera. Today is her birthday: Mertxe Nafarrate Arkotxa turns 79. But it's her who gives me the first present as soon as I'm in the door: a box in which she's been carefully collecting all the press articles from the last three months. How could I not pay her this tribute? She couldn't be more charming!

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Final thoughts on the biodiversity route

Over the course of this journey we've run into many people who are lending a hand and doing their bit to prevent climate change.

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A time of routes and gifts

On December 8th 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out walking from his house. Two years later, on January 1st 1935, he arrived in Istanbul. He crossed Europe on foot, from Holland to Turkey, carrying a few clothes, an Oxford dictionary and a small book of Odes by Horace. He walked across Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. The account of this extraordinary journey was told in his book A Time of Gifts, which was published forty years later, in 1977, and established him as one of the most important travel and non-fiction writers of this century. It was the unhurried telling of the journey upon which he set out at 18 years old. The story of a young man who left home the same day that Hitler had just risen to power in Germany, and during the unstoppable spread of hate speech, and of pointing out differences, in the old Europe. A Europe bent on closing borders and erecting walls. A Europe condemned to conflict.

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A celebration of difference and diversity

Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and, finally, the Basque Country. Those were the countries visited on the sexuality route. It seems impossible to summarise in a few lines everything that we've experienced across the 4,000 kilometres, eight nations and during the three months that this expedition has taken. Even more so when, at every moment, our experiences blend together and become more and more blurry in our memories. But we'll give it a go.

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2950 kilometres and one bench

Every morning for three months it's been the same routine. Alarm, breakfast, bike. Between times I take it easy and rifle through the clothes inside the panniers in search of my cycling shorts. Like any good worker I have my uniform, and mine is my cycling shorts. The same goes for Ainara and Carlos, my travelling companions. Our job over these last few months has involved mapping and recording citizen initiatives on our bikes. From atop our saddles we've discovered projects undertaken by citizens who carry out transformational processes in their cities. From urban gardens to neighbourhood centres, to citizen lobby groups and social currency, we've recorded some thirty initiatives the length and breadth of Spain and Portugal.

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