At the end of La Concha beach stands the “iconic symbol of San Sebastián”, according to most travel books and articles. I walked all the way across to have a look, and found myself at odds: two underwhelming, rusty set-ups of curved steel jutted out of two large boulders. Tourists around me took photos – out of duty, or out of true impression? I am not entirely sure what I was missing here: how and why do the locals identify with these? And why are they called El Peine del Viento, or “The Comb of the Wind”?
What did impress me was the viewing platform with groups of holes through which the wind and the waves sputtered. In stormy weather these form groups of geysers, releasing the pressure of incoming waves crashing into rocks underneath the platform floating in the air above. To me these seem to be the true combs of the wind: straightening out and vertically anything that pushes into shore horizontally from the sea.
Famished from the walk and brain activity I backtracked to the first restaurant, also by the beach. It was 11 am and the waiters looked busy even if the place was half-empty. I tried to make my presence known to a waiter arranging dishes, sweat dripping from his nose, but he successfully ignored me until I gave up.
I then tried to plead for attention with the waiters behind the pintxo bar, but did not manage until another guest politely pointed my desperation out to the staff. I asked for a sit-down menu and was told they only serve food other than pintxos after 1 pm. I asked if I could sit down, have a club soda, and wait. And if I could please have the wifi passcode. The waiter nodded, with a heavy look: I was not going to bring in any cash in the next two hours.
I took a seat out on the terrace, sighed deeply, admired the view, and punched in the wifi code which the waiter had scribbled down on a piece of paper. It did not work. Not even after five tries. I ashamedly crept back to him with the piece of paper. It turned out I should only use the second half of the word, and in small-case letters. I was to infer this from the original scribble I got, and the waiter made it clear that I had failed. Perhaps the comb of the wind had failed to comb the wind that went through my brain that morning.
(San Sebastián, Spain; August 2019)