St. Etienne de Baigorry - BaigorriDuring her childhood Mayie (Etchebarne) Maitia called¬†Baigorri (in Basque)¬†her home. Baigorri is a picturesque town featuring a beautiful church, a castle (chateau d’Etxauz) built in the 11th and 16th century and its own roman arch bridge dating back to 1661. The town of Baigorri (Saint Etienne de Baigorry – French renamed it) comes from Basque or Eskuara (Basse Navarre spelling) “ibai” + “gorri” meaning “river” and “red” or simply “Red River.” For many years the river flowed a burnt sienna, reddish color due to the amount of iron ore found in the surrounding area. Banka, the village just upstream from Baigorri was the location of iron ore mines. To this day you can see the brick ruins of the processing factory (although it is somewhat hidden among the overgrown foliage). When they processed the iron ore it comes into contact with water and oxidizes turning a “rust” color red. The workers would get paid in this town and the name originated from the place where employees would get paid at the BANK hence BANKA.

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