A Basque in Boise

Boise State University to bring a 400-year-old play to Boise based on the life of Basque nun Catalina de Eraso

My friend, who works at BSU, sent me a link this morning to an article published last week by Boise State University. The article talks about the efforts of Edward “Mac” Test, an associate professor in the English Department, to bring a 400-year-old play to Boise. The play, “Comedia Famosa De La Monja Alférez,” tells the story of Catalina de Erauso, a Basque nun who ran away from the convents and lived a life of adventures disguised as a man.

I had never heard Catalina’s story, but after reading about her on this Wikipedia entry, I can’t wait for the play to come to Boise. She was definitely a character and I would have hated to be on the wrong side of her friendship.

Bringing a 400-Year-Old Play to Boise

BY: Brady W Moore   Published 3:49 PM / June 22, 2017

Edward “Mac” Test, an associate professor in the English Department, is packing his bags and headed east to spend his summer digging through archives in Madrid, Spain.

Photo of Professor Test in the Basque block.

Edward “Mac” Test at Boise’s Basque block @ BSU

Test is translating a nearly 400-year-old play, “Comedia Famosa De La Monja Alférez,” into English for the very first time. The play is based on the true story of a Basque woman named Catalina de Erauso, who escaped a nunnery at 18, cut off her hair, dressed as a man, and jumped aboard a ship bound for the new world. She rose to the rank of “alférez” (lieutenant), while living “the fantastic life of a conquistador, gambler and swashbuckler.”

Test’s project already has garnered international attention and ultimately will lead to performances of the play for the first time in America. The Boise State Department of Theatre Arts, UCLA and McMaster University in Toronto all have expressed interest in producing the performance.

While in Spain, Test said his days will consist of waking up early to dive into books, manuscripts and letters at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, or National Library of Spain and at the Museo Nacional del Prado, or Prado Museum.

“I’ll sit in there for hours and just read, take notes and type,” said Test. “You can spend a month on a research fellowship and by the time you get to the end you have so many books you still want to see but you don’t have enough time so near the end you’re just combing through as fast as you can.”

Test said he’s excited to bring a story with contemporary ties and a Basque connection to Boise.

“There’s a very small number of scholars who know about it. But is the play known around the world? No. Especially to English speakers, that’s why I want to bring it here,” said Test.

(For the original article, click here.)

San Juan Eguna, the Basque summer solstice

When the sun sets on June 23rd, many a bonfire light up the night in almost every Basque town to celebrate San Juan Eguna, the feast of St. John the Baptist, which marks the Basque Summer Solstice.

I never really thought much about San Juan while growing up, other than it being another chance to hang out with my friends, late into the night. We were either fresh out of school, or soon to be. San Juan was the first of many summer nights I would enjoy with them, and what better way to kick off the season than surrounded by fires and drinking hot cocoa.

During San Juan, you are supposed to use the fire as a symbolic means to get rid of unpleasant past times and welcome a brighter future. Many of my friends would use their previous year’s school notes as fuel, but I always considered those actions a bit sacrilegious. Back then, I would have had to dig deep in order to find anything at all worth erasing from my memories, so I was totally content watching other people’s stuff go up in flames.

I have only thrown something into the fire once, and I wasn’t even there. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to celebrate San Juan with the kids and my family this year either, as I’m still about a week away from catching the plane that will take me home. However, I did ask my daugther to draw something she thought I would like and she promised to watch it burn for me tonight.


From this week’s Astero: Basque Government Grants for Clubs and Federations

Astero‘s weekly bulletin always brings interesting news related to the Basque Country and the Diaspora. This week, we will learn about the Basque Government Grants for Clubs and Federations.

The call for 2017 grants for Basque clubs and federations appeared in the Official Bulletin of the Basque Country yesterday. These Basque club grants, in support of operating expenses, activities, and infrastructure during 2017 enjoy a total budget is 902,307 Euros.

The budget is divided in the following way:

  • 782,307 Euros allocated to Chapter IV activities (i.e. operating and activities)
  • 120,000 Euros for Chapter VII activities which includes capital improvements to clubhouses and infrastructure

Deadline to apply is July 21, 2017. The Resolution can be found in Basque here, and in Spanish here.

If you would like to have Astero, NABO’s weekly bulletin, sent directly to your inbox, you only have to fill out this form.

Did you know that today is the 30th anniversary of the very first Jaialdi?

Jaialdi 2020 organizers would like to know where you were in 1987, while the first Jaialdi ever was going on at the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise. Jaialdi was originally going to be a one-off festival — now, it’s tradition!

As Annie Gavica, director of the Basque Museum, puts it: “Though locations, leadership, number of attendees and more has changed in those thirty years, one thing has stayed true – the incredible Basque Community in Boise working together to preserve Basque culture in the United States. BRAVO to those that had the foresight to create such an amazing event, ESKERRIK ASKO to those that work countless hours to keep it going, and ZORIONAK to Boise, Euzkaldunak and everyone involved for keeping this party going.”

Go to Jaialdi 2020’s Facebook page and let them know what you were doing during Jaialdi 87!

The World’s Largest Celebration of Basque Culture | Boise, ID

Jaialdi refers to a festival in the Basque Language (Euskara). This festival exhibits the Basque culture with dancing (dantzan) and musical (musika) performances, sporting (kirol) events, and authentic food (jateko) and drink (edateko). The Basque people are known for their merriment, and Jaialdi showcases these characteristics well.

Jaialdi was first celebrated in 1987 at the Old Idaho State Penitentiary as a one time weekend event to educate the public about the Basque culture. Jaialdi ‘87 attracted approximately 30,000 visitors who thoroughly enjoyed the event, the location, and the opportunity to be part of the Basque activities. The festival was so popular that Governor Cecil Andrus asked the local Basque community to put on another celebration to help celebrate Idaho’s Centennial in 1990.

After Jaialdi ’90, it was decided that the Jailaldi would continue to be held in Boise every five years on a rotational basis with four other Basque clubs throughout the United States. Jaialdi has been held in Boise in: 1987, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and the 2015 is being planned. Jaialdi has become so popular that the event had to be moved from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary to the Western Idaho Fairgrounds to accommodate over 40,000 guests. This event is always held on the last weekend of July, which coincides with the Basque community of Boise’s celebration of their patron saint, San Ignacio of Loyola.

(From LocalWiki.org)

Siri’s voice (in Spanish) is Basque!

(The following is a translation from an article originally published in Spanish by El Correo on June 16, 2017, and the video was published on EITB’s website on June 14, 2017. I apologize in advance for any mistakes. It was a somewhat long article, so I decided on a collaborative effort between Google Translate and I.)

Iratxe Gómez, a native of Zamudio residing in Vitoria, is behind Apple’s remote assistance service for its mobile devices and several GPS devices

“Siri, where are you from?” “Apple designed me in California,” says the application in a monotone voice. But the truth is that the voice providing remote assistance services in iPhone and iPad devices was born in the Biscayan town of Zamudio 43 years ago. Her name is Iratxe Gómez, and her warm and cordial diction has made her the most frequent interlocutor in telephones, cars, and many other remote assistance services throughout the country.


For a long time, Iratxe completely ignored that millions of Apple users were talking to her every day. When you record locutions or allophones ―the sounds with which a computer then constructs words― you generally do not know what your final destination will be. One day, watching television, a magician did a trick in which he used one of the brand’s phonesas an assistant. Hearing the voice on the iPhone, she discovered it was her own.

This English teacher living in the outskirts of Vitoria and who has been unemployed since May, has been making incursions into an activity that, although part of our daily life, it is still a stranger. Initially, her mastery of languages landed her a jobs in a call center for international mailings or in an online banking service, where she made locutions in Spanish and English.

Later, she helped develop an automated text converter, and from there she went on to put her voice on GPS systems for high-end vehicles. “They wanted it to sound more natural.” Years later, her husband bought a new car and what was his surprise when he realized that it was his wife who gave him directions. “Now he turns off the navigator to avoid putting up with me twice,” she jokes.

The same company that set up millions of combinations to guide drivers, then ‘sold’ her voice to Apple, who incorporated it into their devices for Spain. In the transaction she did not see a dime, although her voice is now infinitely more popular. “I was a bit puzzled, but the company argued that my copyright had expired.” With or without compensation, she is now the most frequent interlocutor of millions of Spaniards.

“I find my voice everywhere.” When she calls to make an appointment at the doctor, she hears her voice. Same thing when calling for information on taxes. “When my sister-in-law enters the garage, she ‘talks’ to me.” The list of anecdotes is endless. “Living in China, I did not master the language and sometimes I got stuck. Once, the person I was talking with pulled out their cell phone to translate something into Spanish with a voice application and… it was me! ”

What’s so special about her voice? She does not know for sure, but she remembers that her vocal talents have always impressed others. It may have something to do with her being raised in her mother’s sewing workshop, where the radio was constantly on. “I was always struck by the way the old broadcasters spoke, the radio soap operas,” she recalls. By the time a teacher first put her to read in class, her diction left him in awe.

“I’ve always been told that I read very well, but I did not think any of it.” Iratxe has earned her living mainly as an English teacher. “But it’s true that the younger students fall asleep when I read a story to them, I imagine they like it because it sounds soothing, calm.” And that’s what a remote assistance service looks for. Listening to her in the car or on the phone, her six-year-old son “believes that in every home things have the voice of the mother, who knows everything.” He still does not know that his mother is Siri.

Iratxe Gómez @ Voltaico

“Basque code talkers” in World War II monograph (in Spanish) available on June 15

On June 15, 2017, “Saibigain” digital magazine will present its third installment, which focusses on “Basque code talkers” and the use of the Basque language during World War II. The magazine is published by “Sancho de Beurko Association,” a Basque homeland-based non-profit organization dedicated to the historical memory of the Basque people who fought in the Spanish Civil War and World War II.In this issue, authors Pedro J. Oiarzabal and Guillermo Tabernilla, hope to shed light on one of the most intensely mytholigized subjects related to Basque involvement in the war.

The magazine, which is published only in Spanish (for now), can be downloaded free of charge in PDF format from its website: Saibigain Magazine.

Previous installments include the biographies of 213 people of Basque origin from Nevada who served in the U.S. military during World War II, and Bilbao’s Museum of War (both in Spanish).

For more on Pedro Oiarzabal, click here.



You go to a work function and the boss passes raffle tickets around. You end up winning the vanilla-scented candle, but you are not the candle type. You keep it safe in the gift bag until the perfect opportunity comes to get rid of it. Christmas time, maybe?

I’m not going to lie. I’m not a stranger to regifting. However, I’ve always felt tacky and somewhat ashamed when giving someone a present that was initially meant for me, even when I know the receiver will love it. (Please remember this when you open the bag and a whiff of vanilla caresses your nostrils.)

It is one thing to part with something you got from your company. After all, your boss didn’t spend the whole evening shopping around especially for you (at least you’d hope so, otherwise it’d be weird). However, there is something inherently wrong about giving away a present that somebody bought with you in mind. Like when, for my birthday, my kids decided to buy me this dress which I wouldn’t have chosen if given the option. Giving it away never crossed my mind. On the contrary, I made a point to wear it often because I knew they put a lot of thought into buying it. Besides, I love seeing their faces brighten up when I have it on. That’s my favorite part.

A present is as much about the recipient as it is about the giver. When you give someone a gift, you’re making a statement about that person. You’re telling them how important they are, that you love them, that you were thinking about them. You take pleasure in the selection process and get excited just imagining their reaction. Unfortunately, I’m particularly bad at presents. I have a hard time deciding on the perfect item for anybody, unlike other people, who are naturals. I remember this one time when my ex husband carried a 16 oz mocha from the Moxie Java on Vista all the way back to Chicago because he knew it was my favorite coffee place. To this day, one of my favorite presents.

So, wouldn’t you feel horrible if you found out someone you love decided to do away with your present, after you spent so much time making it special? Wouldn’t it feel like it is you they are kicking to the curb? After all, there is always a bit of us in the presents we give to other people.

Or maybe I’m just too fucking sensitive.

Etxepare-Laboral Kutxa Translation Prize 2017 for publishers/translators

The goal of this call launched by the Etxepare Basque Institute and Laboral Kutxa is to award a prize to a published translation of a literary work originally written in Basque. The prize will reward the quality of the translation and the publisher’s promotional strategy. For that reason, the publisher and the translator will share the prize.

The prize will be worth 4,000 Euros. The publisher and translator will each receive half of that amount.

As well as the prize, the prize-winners will receive a grant of up to 2,000 Euros to come to the prize-giving ceremony and continuing with the promotional strategy in the country of publication (presentations, events, publicity campaigns, media interviews…).

Application requirements

– Applications will be accepted from translators, publishing houses or anyone else who works in the field of publishing, literature or translation.

– The translation must have been published in 2016.

– It must be a published literary work originally written in Basque.

Deadline, place, and method for presenting applications

The period for submitting applications is June 5 to June 30 (both included).

The application and the following documents should be sent by email to etxepare@etxepare.eus:

–       The translator’s CV.

–       A report on the publishing house. The report should include the promotion events done before the application, as well as the events planned for the near future.

–       The first 15 pages of the translated book.

Within the same period, and in order to complete the application, one copy of the translated book should be sent to:

Etxepare Basque Institute office
Tabakalera building
Andre Zigarrogileen plaza 1
2012 Donostia-San Sebastián

Contact information

Kizkitza Galartza
Tel 943 02 34 09

Looking to enjoy Boise this summer? Here are 65 things to try

Boise River @ boisestate.edu

If you are like me, running out of ideas to keep the kids entertained is something you have experienced before. Luckily, my son’s school sent out a pretty cool list last week with a bunch of ideas for the summer months, and I wanted to pass it along. Now you have no excuse to stay home and be bored.

Boise rules!

1. Hike up table rock and watch the sunset.
2. Wake up early and go to the Saturday Market.
3. Attend the Boise Music Festival.
4. Take your dog to Ann Morrison.
5. Float down the river. (Only if water levels are safe)
6. Get a treat at Ben & Jerry’s
7. Check out Freak Alley and take some good pictures.
8. Tour the beautiful Capitol Building.
9. Hike the trails up near Bogus Basin.
10. See the animals at Zoo Boise.
11. Spend the day at Roaring Springs Waterpark.
12. Go on a bike ride along the green belt.
13. Spend a day boating or swimming at Lucky Peak.
14. Check out Bogus Basin’s new mountain roller coaster.
15. Take a tour and get locked up at the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.
16. Channel your inner kid at the Discovery Center.
17. Enjoy the scenery at the Idaho Botanical Garden.
18. Find Nemo at the Aquarium of Boise
19. Watch an old film at the Egyptian Theater.
20. Check out local art work at the Boise Art Museum.
21. Hike up Camels Back and play on the swings after.
22. Enjoy some candy and ice cream at Goodies.
23. Look back into history at the Anne Frank Memorial.
24. See panoramic views of Boise from the Boise Train Depot.
25. Learn about Boise’s history at the Idaho State Museum.
26. Watch or join in on some water sports at the Boise River Water Sports Park.
27. Bird watch at the World Center for Birds of Prey.
28. Visit the animals at the Idaho Humane Society.
29. See a show at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
30. Visit the famous Smurf Turf at Bronco Stadium.
31. Take a journey through Basque History at the Basque Museum.
32. Walk the Boise Towne Square Mall.
33. Take your friends to go ice skating at the Idaho Ice World.
34. Grab some popcorn and see the newest movies at Edwards 21.
35. Go on a ride and eat some deep fried goodness at the Western Idaho Fair.
36. Eat some delicious breakfast at Big City Coffee &a Cafe.
37. Watch the talented skaters at Rhodes Skate Park.
38. Go VIP on Wednesday nights at Big Al’s Game Center.
39. Hike the trails around Hull’s Gulch.
40. Take a Boise Trolley Tour and see historic sites around Boise.
41. Drive through the beautiful historic Warm Springs Avenue.
42. Take a glass blowing class at Boise Art Glass.
43. Enjoy Idaho Potatoes at their best, at Boise Fry Company.
44. Donate to a local nonprofit just by ordering a delicious sandwich from Even Stevens Sandwiches.
45. Watch an amazing performance by Ballet Idaho.
46. Go for a swim at Municipal Pool.
47. Try fresh brewed tea at Snake River Tea downtown.
48. Grab some Idaho gear and souvenirs at Taters.
49. Let your inner artist shine and paint ceramics at Ceramica.
50. Order a new drink at Black Rock Coffee, there’s more than just coffee!
51. Go rock climbing at Asana Climbing Gym.
52. Get your friends together and go bowling at 20th Century Lanes.
53. Take a painting class at Brush’d.
54. Visit the Village in Meridian and watch the water fountain light up at night.
55. Eat a fresh donut from Guru Donuts.
56. Sign up for the one of the many races and marathons that Boise has to offer.
57. Take a hot air balloon ride above Boise.
58. Enjoy Latin dancing at Ochos.
59. Watch a local baseball game at Memorial Stadium.
60. Try stand up paddle boarding at Quinn’s pond.
61. Visit the many hot springs close to Boise that Idaho has to offer.
62. All experience levels are welcome to raft on the Payette River, sign up for a guided trip.
63. Play frisbee golf at Ann Morrison Park.
64. Watch a free concert at Alive After Five.
65. Enjoy food and drinks on one of the many restaurant patios in downtown Boise.

Do you know the Basque-American band Amerikanuak?

My friend Hella Basque told me about Amerikanuak new website (amerikanuak.com) and upcoming CD, so I thought I’d pass the information along.


Although each of the members of the band are musicians in their own right and each has his or her own history of how they became involved with Basque music, the basis for this group of friends getting together to play music and help maintain the Basque culture here in the United States began back in 1989 when the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco decided to present a traditional Basque musical play called a “Pastorala” or “Pastorale”.

Band Members: Jean Flesher and Rene Caballero, Christian and Daniel Iribarren, JP Etchechury, Jean Jules Flesher, Michelle Iturriria, John Ehlis and Pierre Igoa.

For more information about the band, visit their website or Facebook page.

Order the album

If you’d like to pre-order Amerikanuak’s new album, you can do so here.

@ amerikanuak.com