Ya no te rondan zagales-The ruins of Belchite, Spain
An eerie silence hangs in the air. We are standing in the town of Belchite—only it is not a town, but a wreckage, a collection of rubble and memories of civilization. It had been destroyed, bombed into nothingness during the Spanish Civil War, but was preserved as a reminder of the magnitude of suffering that stemmed from the event. The pain of the war and subsequent dictatorship is still too fresh in the minds of the people of Spain—especially the Catalan families who found themselves stripped of their language and culture, forced to abandon their autonomous existence under the nationalist regime. That dark period has become part of their identities. The old town of Belchite is empty now, except for our tour group. I almost feel guilty, as if we are intruding on a private memory, the sounds of our feet against the gravel betraying us amidst the stillness. We come to a doorway, and I backtrack to read the words that have been written on it.
“Pueblo Viejo de Belchite
Ya no te rondan zagales
Ya no se oirán las jotas que cantaban nuestros padres”
“Old town of Belchite
Boys no longer wander
The songs sung by our parents will no longer be heard”