A Basque in Boise

Sharing. Not always the best choice.

use-apple-id-for-imessage-syncIsn’t it great how Apple makes it so easy to keep all your shit updated and shared across devices? Sign in with your Apple ID. Have your pics automatically uploaded from your iPhone to the Cloud. Conveniently access them at a later time from any of the other fifteen Apple devices you own.

Wait! Start an iMessage conversation on your iPhone, then finish it on your Mac at work or your iPad at Starbucks. Hell, if you’re super mega cool, you can even do it from your iWatch. BAM!

People always say sharing is good, but I respectfully disagree. Sharing is not always good. In fact, sharing can be REALLY bad.

Synchronization is awesome and groovy if all devices belong to you. But some of us are parents who – for better or for worse (in my case worse) – decided to spoil our kids with iPhones and iPads and then forgot to check the fucking settings on iMessage after upgrading to iOS 9.

Maybe I could blame my oversight on how shitty last week turned out to be (we’ll leave that for another blog that I might never write), or I could be pissed at Apple for making synchronization so damn convenient and automated. All I know is that today, my poor daughter got an unwanted peek into adulthood when she opened in her iPhone a text message intended for me. “You just got what message???”

Holy shit… I don’t think I’ve ever covered the stretch between Sockeye Brewery and the house as fast as I did today. I was afraid someone was gonna stop me and change the tires on my F-1 Jetta.

As a divorced mom with no partner and some needs, I try so hard to keep “Amatxu” and “Henar” separated based on whether I have the kids that week or not. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I struggle because I feel lonely sometimes. It’s hard to balance being alone and liking it with being alone and missing the touch of a guy. But it is what it is and ultimately, I don’t mind it. I enjoy being “Amatxu” full-time one week, then being “Henar” full-time the next. It’s when both get mixed up that my world shakes a bit.

In the end, what do you do? Parents screw up all the time despite their best efforts to shield their kids from R-rated stuff, whether it’s something they accidentally watched on TV, a conversation you didn’t think they heard, or a text message you thought was private.  You just gotta own it and explain to them, in a manner they understand, that there is a world of adults out there and that “Amatxu” and “Henar” do, sometimes, go hand in hand.

Smithsonian To Explore Basque Culture at 2016 Folklife Festival

This is really good news! Here comes my excuse to finally visit Washington D.C., and on my 20th anniversary in this country no less! See you there?

Smithsonian To Explore Basque Culture at 2016 Folklife Festival


Media only:        James Mayer 202.633.0644 / mayerj@si.edu
Media website: newsdesk.si.edu

Visitors to the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will explore the Basque Country’s unique language and distinct cultural heritage. The 2016 Folklife Festival will take place Wednesday, June 29, through Monday, July 4, and Thursday, July 7, through Sunday, July 10. It will be located on the National Mall, between Fourth and Seventh streets, adjacent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Air and Space. Admission to the Festival is free and hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with special evening events beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the Regional Government of Biscay and presented in partnership with the National Park Service.

The Basque constitute one of the oldest communities in Europe, and today approximately 1 million people worldwide speak Basque, or Euskara, a language once on the brink of extinction and now an example of successful language revitalization. In addition to its language, the Basque Country is well known for its food, crafts, music and poetry. The 2016 Festival will host musicians, cooks, language experts and more from the region to explore themes of cultural sustainability, identity and migration. To that end, the program will also include significant participation of people of Basque descent living throughout the United States.

“Celebrating Basque culture at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an important opportunity to bring forth compelling stories of cultural heritage, vitality and resilience,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a Basque American who represents California’s Third District. “These are American stories, too. I’m delighted that Festival visitors will also experience Basque traditions that remain an integral part of this country’s cultural landscape.”

The program will be curated by cultural and linguistic revitalization specialist Mary Linn and folklorist and ethnomusicologist Cristina Díaz-Carrera. More information about the 2016 Festival will be released shortly.

About the Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors contemporary living cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them. Produced annually by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Festival has featured participants from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Festival fans can also keep up with each day’s events through the Festival Blog.


The walk

For the last few months I’ve stopped going into the gym during the lunch hour and started taking long walks around the H-P campus instead. I’d been steadily decreasing the intensity of my workouts since my shoulder cannot take anymore the weight lifting routines I did with ease a few years ago. Lifting and playing pala were my favorite activities, but now I can’t do either one. Plus being the non-outdoorsy woman I am,  I wouldn’t see the light of day for months on end when I worked and worked out inside.

RedShirtI’ve come to love these daily walks so much that I’m getting a little worried about the winter. One thing is to walk in 80 or 90 degree weather wearing only a short dress or tiny tank top among the trees and the red-shirted landscaping crew, and another trying not to kill myself on the ice, bundled up from head to toe, not a toned, muscled arm working that edger in sight.

Surprisingly, walking has helped me lose weight more than I thought it would. Not that I had any expectations when I started; it has been an added bonus. However, the best is letting my mind roam free as I tread the three-mile loop around H-P. Most days I start the journey thinking about how awesome life will be when I meet Balenziaga and he finally realizes we are just perfect together. I mean, I’ve shown our picture around and everybody agrees!

Invariably though, real life worries start sipping through my fantasy pushing my boyfriend away until I’m forced to deal with reality. The fact that no matter how things are going back home I can only be present via Skype or by commenting on Facebook, really sucks. Except for two weeks out of the year, I miss the good stuff and even worse, I can’t help with the bad. Another mile and I can’t shake this guilty feeling. I knew when I left Ortuella that the time would come when I’d feel like this. But that’s the thing about decisions; you can’t make one and keep both choices.

Halfway through the walk and I’ve sort of made peace with myself, at least for the time being. “Oh, hey, how’s it going?” The blonde landscaper is taking care of the lawn in one of those monster mowers and he’s got the sleeves rolled up in such a way his T-shirt now looks more like a red wife-beater and holy shit those arms! Where was I? I try to think back to Balenziaga, how disappointed he would feel if he caught me thinking about another man’s biceps.

As I approach the starting point and I head for the bush where I hide my badge so I don’t have to deal with it bouncing for an hour, I feel good. A little sweaty, a little tired, but way more content than when I started. There are always going to be things out of my control, so I am going to focus on what I can do considering the circumstances. I’m going to work on what’s possible and forget the impossible. I can feel the energy of positive thinking making its way though my body. Everything is going to be ok.

And Balenziaga, you just wait.

Jaialdi puts Boise on the map: Check out today’s article in the New York Times

An Ancient Tongue and Paella’s Scent Fill a Boise Celebration of Basque Roots

Visitors danced at the Basque Center during the Jaialdi festival in Boise. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Visitors danced at the Basque Center during the Jaialdi festival in Boise. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

BOISE, Idaho — When the president of the Basques arrived here in Idaho’s capital from Europe late last month, the mayor stepped up to interpret for him into English from Basque, one of the world’s most ancient and difficult languages.

Boise is part of Basque country,” said the mayor, David H. Bieter, in an interview, explaining his role.

Mr. Bieter’s brother, John, a professor of history at Boise State University who was at the time running an academic conference across town about all things Basque — coordinated with the weeklong festival that had drawn the president, Iñigo Urkullu — said he couldn’t agree more.

“If you’re into Basque studies,” he said, “this is Christmas.”

Many Americans might think of Idaho as potato country, so successfully has the agriculture industry branded the place, right down to the license plates. It is also one of the least ethnically diverse states, with more than 93 percent of its population classified as white, according to the census.

But every five years, a wild and often hidden streak in the history and culture steps up to shout, “Ongi Etorri!” (That’s Basque for “Welcome!”)

A Basque street party called Jaialdi takes over downtown Boise, celebrating the roots that were sunk deep by a wave of Basque immigrants who mostly came as shepherds in the early 20th century. The Bieter brothers, (pronounced BEE-ter), the unofficial first family of the local Basque world, dust off their chops in speaking the language. The taps open to a tide of Kalimotxo, a Basque cocktail of red wine and cola. And people eat black beans and paella.

With an estimated 35,000 or more attendees — this year’s was the seventh Jaialdi (Basque for “festival time”) since the first one in 1987 — it is one of the biggest Basque festivals outside Europe.

And in much the same way that a walk down the street in Boston in mid-March can stir an impulse to wear a bit of green, Jaialdi draws in people like Anna Heathman. She and her husband, Dick, who drove here from their home in central Washington, said they felt a little bit Basque coming to Jaialdi, though in ethnic reality they are not.

“They have had to fight for identity,” said Ms. Heathman, 73, a retired massage therapist who was born in what is now Slovakia in Central Europe, which was swallowed up for decades by the former Czechoslovakia.

“Because they have no country, I can feel for them and the need to keep their history together,” she said, sitting on a bench in Basque Square. “My people had to fight too.”

Mr. Heathman, 75, a retired farmer, said he had mainly fallen in love with the food.

A century ago, Basques also came to other corners of the American West, like Bakersfield, Calif., and Elko, Nev. Thousands more went to Argentina and Chile. And in some places, those old roots withered to memory.

What happened to keep the story and heritage alive in Idaho was partly that in a state with a small population — 1.6 million now, and far smaller when the Basque wave broke — the immigrants stood out. Idaho’s Basques also mostly came from one province in Spain, Bizkaia, which created a cohesive web of interconnected families. California’s Basque community, by contrast, is much more heavily from the French side of the border.

Mayor David Bieter greeted visitors to the festival, which is one of the largest Basque festivals outside Europe. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Mayor David Bieter greeted visitors to the festival, which is one of the largest Basque festivals outside Europe. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

But it is also at least partly a family story, in how John and David Bieter’s father, Pat, fell in love with Basque life and pulled his family in with him, starting in the mid-1970s. Pat Bieter married into a Basque family (John and David’s mother, Eloise, was the daughter of Basque immigrants), and in 1974, as a professor of education at Boise State University, he led its first yearlong study-abroad foray to the Basque region in Spain, taking his family with him.

John was 12 that year, and David, now 55, was 14. Franco, who died in 1975, was still actively suppressing Basque traditions and language, which in turn led to an even deeper connection, the brothers said, as the Boise Basques and the Spanish Basques reached out to one another.

The trip became a university tradition and eventually an anchor of its Basque studies program, of which John Bieter, 53, is now associate director.

“It completely transformed our lives,” he said, describing the 1974 trip.

David Bieter, who served in the State Legislature as a Democrat before being elected mayor in 2003, said that after his parents were killed in a car accident in 1999 — Pat was 68 and Eloise 73 — their father’s Basque dream seemed more important than ever to fulfill.

“He saw something that ought to be done, and he was the one crazy enough to do it,” David Bieter said.

At the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, which boasts the onlypreschool Basque-language immersion program outside Europe, Shamilee Ybarguen-Adams was telling her two daughters one afternoon last week about the lonely lives of the immigrant sheepherders, and how once upon a time Idaho had three million sheep that needed tending.

Ms. Ybarguen-Adams, 34, who lives in Boise and is the granddaughter of a Basque herder, said that for her, Jaialdi is partly about picking up where past Idaho Basques left off and making sure the next generation does not forget.

“The second generation tried to get away from it; the third is trying to bring it back,” she said. Her girls, Joanna, 6, and Isabella, 4, will start Basque dance lessons this fall, she said.

Out in the square, Xabier Urruzola Arana, 35, and his wife, Garazi Del Rey Salsamendi, 34, were talking about wine. They had come from their town of 300 people in the Basque region of Spain looking for a market and a distributor for their white wine, Txakolina (pronounced chock-oh-LEE-nah), which they started making in the family’s 14th-century farmhouse in 2011. It was their first Boise Jaialdi, they said.

“We’re new, just getting started,” Mr. Arana said. “But this is a good place to network.”

For the original article and to view the slide show, click here.

Event list for Jaialdi 2015

Jaialdi 2015 is finally here, along with so many activities and events that it’s hard to keep them all straight. I heard from a few people that they were not sure about all the stuff going on this week, so I spend part of my weekend checking different sources and websites and compiled a list with all the events, dates and times I was able to find, including the NABO Pilota Finals and a series of Basque short films at MING Studios.

To download a PDF of this list to your computer, click here.

For the 2015 NABO Pilota Finals schedule, click here.

For the session of Basque short films presented by 39 Rooms at MING Studios from July 30 to August 1, click here.

Please make sure you check the website for the specific event you want to corroborate the information before you go:

Jaialdi 2015

Cenarrusa Foundation

Boise Basque Museum and Cultural Center

BSU Basque Studies

Preservation Idaho

Gure esku dago


Event list for Jaialdi 2015

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

2015 NABO Pilota Finals



Agirre Center, Columbia University and Gure esku dago organize in Boise a conference on the right to choose

GURE ESKU DAGO” (It’s in our hands), a movement in favor of the right to decide in the Basque Country, will be in Boise for Jaialdi and would like to invite you to attend their conference on July 30th at the Grove Hotel. During the event, Boise’s mayor Dave Bieter will present Ibarretxe’s new book, The Basque Experience: constructing Sustainable Human Development. Juan Jose Ibarretxe is the former President of the Basque Country. Ibarretxe (Agirre Center) will be a main speaker, along with Jon Camio (GURE ESKU DAGO), and Dr. Joshua Fisher (Columbia University).

jaildi talk

The event will be hosted by Boise’s Mayor Dave Bieter. Representatives of Pete Cenarrusa Foundation and Xabier Irujo (Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada) will also take part in the conference.

During the first part of this meeting Juan Jose Ibarretxe will present his research on the extraordinary transformation of the Basque Country from the recovery of self-government in the eighties up to now, and specifically in the period 1998/2008, in three relevant but traditionally unrelated fields: economics, social balance and peacemaking.

On Saturday and Sunday, CenturyLink Arena will be hosting a variety of vendors, including one manned by the “GURE ESKU DAGO” organization. Stop by and get to know them better.


The group is a citizens initiative that began on June 8, 2013. Their main goal is to achieve citizen support for the Basques’ right to decide. The movement is all-inclusive, as it extends to everybody its invitation to participate.

The group stands on three basic ideas:

1. The Basque Country is a nation
2. Basques have a right to decide
3. The future is in the hands of the citizens of the Basque Country

Last year’s big activity was the human chain. This year the organized a “patchwork”; a patchwork which was sewn together on the 21st of June into a massive ballot box.

For more information: www.gureeskudago.eus/en.

Beyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories, by Mark Bieter

The Basque Soccer Friendly between Athletic de Bilbao and Xolos of Tijuana has come and gone, leaving the city of Boise and its community filled with wonderful memories that will be treasured for years to come. Much has been said about this match, both in the months leading up to the event, and specially during the three magical days since the teams arrived in Boise on Thursday and Friday. However, nobody can take a story and twist it like Boise native Mark Bieter. In his latest article for the Blue Review, he goes beyond the surface and brings us a closer, more personal approach to the teams, their history and their fans.

Beyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories

It’s a professional soccer game in a college football town played in a U.S. stadium by two non-U.S. teams who have never faced each other and might never face each other again. It was practically an impossible dream. For example, one basic requirement was trucking in  85,000 square feet of Kentucky bluegrass to be placed over plastic decking and two layers of tarp to cover the Boise State  field, which is artificial turf colored blue and trademarked so no other university can copy it. When the game is over, all that grass will be rolled up, shipped away and planted in a park.

The original cocktail napkin plan hadn’t anticipated all that. The only idea then was to bring Athletic Bilbao to Boise for a game during Jaialdi, the massive international festival Idaho’s Basque community holds every five years. Athletic is an iconic team, founded in the 1890s in Bilbao, the Basque Country’s largest city. It’s ranked among the top 30 soccer teams in the world. Athletic plays in 53,000-seat San Mamés stadium, which was built in 1913, remodeled a century later, and is now one of the premier soccer venues in Europe. They’ve been champions of La Liga, Spain’s top professional division, eight times, and winners of Spain’s most prestigious cup competition, the Copa del Rey, 23 times, the most of any team besides FC Barcelona

Like it so far? You can read the article in its entirety on the Blue Review website: Beyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories

Mark Bieter is an attorney and writer in Washington, D.C.


Related posts

Last minute update: Watch the Basque Soccer Friendly live or On Demand!

Albertsons Stadium

Can’t make it to the game tonight? No problem! We’ll miss you, but you won’t have to miss us.

Watch the BSF live on your phone, computer, or TV + on-demand for a week after the game!

For those unable to make it to the game today in Albertsons Stadium, the Basque Soccer Friendly featuring Athletic Club Bilbao and Club Tijuana  at 7:00pm will be available via live stream for $10! To watch online, visit the Basque Soccer Friendlywebsite, www.basquesoccerfriendly.com and click the button on the homepage that says “live stream”. Following the live broadcast, the ability to watch the archived game on demand will remain available for one week for those unable to watch the game live.

Related posts:

Athletic de Bilbao sticks to its Basque-only policy: An Idaho Statesman article by Michael Lycklama

Athletic Bilbao sticks to its Basque-only policy

mlycklama@idahostatesman.com | July 14, 2015

Athletic Bilbao drew an average of 43,454 fans to its matches this season, fourth most in La Liga behind Barcelona (77,632), Real Madrid (73,081) and Atlético Madrid (46,603). MARIELI OVIEDO — Photo courtesy of Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao drew an average of 43,454 fans to its matches this season, fourth most in La Liga behind Barcelona (77,632), Real Madrid (73,081) and Atlético Madrid (46,603). MARIELI OVIEDO — Photo courtesy of Athletic Bilbao

The history of professional soccer teams developing players mirrors its American counterparts. Both originally developed their own players within the organization to fit their system.

Today, highly-paid players from Spain play in the English Premier League, French players suit up in German Bundesliga and Latin American players are scattered throughout top European leagues.

But one club has resisted globalization.

Athletic Bilbao, which takes on on Mexico’s Club Tijuana in the Basque Soccer Friendly at 7 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium, remains true to its historic principles, fielding only Basque players.

“There are a lot of fans (of the team) that are not Basque because they like the philosophy,” said Henar Chico, the president of Boise’s Athletic Bilbao fan club. “They see that it’s getting out of hand in teams like Real Madrid. I mean, who is from Spain there?”

The club originally only fielded players from the city of Bilbao. But it has since expanded its home base to include all of the Basque country in Spain and France, a semi-autonomous region with desires to become its own country. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad, its rival, abandoned its Basque-only policy in 1989.

Players are considered Basque if they were born in the Basque country or if the team developed them in its envied youth system. That has produced a bounty of world-class players despite drawing from a region with the population of the San Diego metro area (3 million) that covers a land mass slightly larger than Owyhee County (8,000 square miles).

Chico points to the rising commercialism in sports and the example of the Utah Jazz, originally from New Orleans, playing in Salt Lake City. Athletic’s policy ensures the team on the field mirrors the fans in the stands.

“It gives people a sense that they really belong to you. They’re really from where you’re from,” she said. “When you cheer for them, you’re cheering for people like you.”

But the policy also comes with its detractors, who claim it limits the club’s competitiveness.

The club dominated Spanish competitions in the early 1900s but hit hard times in the 2000s, flirting with relegation to the second division of La Liga, a fate only it, Real Madrid and Barcelona have avoided in league history.

Athletic didn’t field its first black player, Jonas Ramalho, until 2008. And defender Aymeric Laporte, inked to a $55 million release clause this summer to ward off interest from Manchester United, is only the second French-born Basque to suit up for the team in its 117-year history.

Chico says she’d rather watch the team fall into the second division of La Liga than watch it field a foreign player, not that anyone expects change soon.

Joe Lasuen, vice president of the Boise fan club, says the policy speaks for itself in Bilbao’s results.

“To be able to hold their own in upper division of La Liga is amazing,” Lasuen said. “The fact they still can cultivate that kind of talent and remain where they are in La Liga, it says a lot about the team.”

Read the origina article here.

8 Herrialdeak Zuzenean (8HZ) celebrates ten years on the air

Bayonne, at the heart of the Diaspora

Affiches 8HZThe 8 Probintziak association will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its radio show, 8 Herrialdeak Zuzenean (8HZ), on June 7, 2015. A live radio broadcast in 4 languages, and interactions with Basques from around the world.

The radio program will begin on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm (Basque Country time), presented by Benoit Etcheverry, Robert Acheritogaray, and Julie Faxel.

The 8 Probintziak association’s work has been about and with the Basque diaspora since May of 2005. It is composed of a 12-member board of directors, 5 of which are in the northern Basque Country, and the other 7 are active in the Basque diaspora.

The association has been part of several projects and is at the origin of many:

  • Diaspora Bidaian with the the Théatre du Versant
  • Partneship with the platform EuskoSare from 2004 to 2009
  • The project for the International Center for the Basque Diaspora in Ascarat from 2006 to 2009
  • Facebook in Basque in 2008
  • The radio show 8HZ (10 years in June 2015!)
  • Conferences in different Basque Centers (Bordeaux, Paris and Montpellier)
  • Help and support of the start of the Basque Center of Marseille in December of 2014
  • The largest datebase of contacts to date ( approximately 150,000 individuals outside of the Basque Country)

The association 8 Probintziak was created on May 25, 2005, in association with the federation Euskal Irratiak, the only radio program on air in 4 languages, and which is broadcasted in FM radio in the Basque Country, and via the Internet for the Diaspora.

Come to participate with us on this June 7, 2015 when the city of Bayonne will be at the heart of the Diaspora.

For more information, contact Benoit Etcheverry, President of the association 8 Probintziak, at irratia@8probintziak.com.

Association 8 Probintziak

11bis, rue Georges Berges
Tel : +33 (0)635492833
E-mail: benoit@8probintziak.com