A Basque in Boise

Host family needed for Basque student during next school year

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Glenna Tooman is the local coordinator for ETC International Exchange Student Program, a private school exchange student program, looking to find a host family for a Basque Student. Bishop Kelly accepted a boy from Bilbao, Bizkaia, for the school year beginning August 18. Glenna has already contacted the Basque Museum, who emailed their contact list without success.

Study Abroad

She is hoping that someone you know may be interested in providing a home for the boy. This is a paid position. The monthly stipend should more than cover room and board. The host family adults will need to submit an application and have a background check. Ideally, the boy’s family would like him to live with a family with at least one teenager at home.

Glenna will be happy to provide more information and the boy’s profile to anyone who may be interested. She is up against a tight deadline to find an appropriate home, so any help or leads you can provide will be appreciated.

Find Glenna’s contact information below:

Glenna Tooman
ETC International Exchange Student Program
PSE Private School Exchange
Southwestern Idaho Coordinator

The bottle is totally empty, actually

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I’m watching House M.D., fourth episode in a row on a Saturday night, one day before I go home again. Home to Ortuella. My first home. The current episode is about to finish. There is a lock down in the hospital because a baby is missing and people got randomly trapped with a coworker or patient, being forced to talk in a way they wouldn’t have done otherwise. Some are playing truth or dare. Others took vicodine in order to feel what House felt before he got done with detox. A couple of doctors who got married a while ago are about to have sex right after they signed the divorce papers, because that happens all the time. And all the way I’m just drinking my wine and watching episode after episode to avoid thinking about my life because I can’t find my place because I can’t move. Even if I could, I don’t think I’d want to. I’m happy here, but I’m also not. I sometimes feel like I’m living a life from the outskirts, from the suburbs, close to downtown, but not quite. It’s easy, it’s got all we need. I get up, I go to work, I work after work, and for 20 days out of the year I get to go home and talk with my sister longer last those two-minute WhatsApp conversations. I go grocery shopping with my mom and have wines with my dad. For 11 months out of the year I am the sole representantive of the Chico-Jiménez family in soccer games and Girl Scouts meetings but hey, there are four weeks for my son to enjoy walks to La Arboleda with his aitite, and for my daughter to go shopping with her aunt in Bilbao and delight in their common liking for makeup and cute dresses. And I’ll get to laugh with everybody about things people here don’t get. I’ll enjoy those 25-minute trips to Bilbao in the train, where merely sitting and eavesdropping on other people’s conversations just about makes the ride worth it. I love the sound of Spanish surrounding me everywhere. Then, my three weeks will be over and I’ll come back to Boise, a town I love, and I’ll turn the TV back on so I can finally learn what the fuck happens with House in the season finale.

A Beautiful Room: 100 years of pala at the Anduiza fronton, by Jessica Murri (Boise Weekly)

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By now, you all know how much I love Boise’s fronton, what a beautiful and special place it has been for me and for the hundreds of people who have played or enjoyed watching the games since it was built a century ago.

I’ve written before about the place and how it makes me feel, as have done others in the community, like Mark Bieter, who wrote a beautiful piece a few months ago entitled My Favorite Room.

Today, the Boise Weekly publised a very nice article to commemorate 100 years of pala at the Anduiza fronton. You can find the original article here, but I’ve reproduced it below for your convenience.

A Beautiful Room: 100 years of pala at the Anduiza fronton

by By Jessica Murri

Courtesy of the Boise Weekly

Courtesy of the Boise Weekly

Standing in the middle of the Basque Block, you’d never know it’s there. But within the walls of the historic Anduiza Hotel, there is a 3,400-square-foot room with a 50-foot-high ceiling. Windows run along the tops of the walls, filtering in natural light on old, exposed wood beams along the roof.

The enormous white walls are speckled with black skids from a rubbery ball–or 100 years worth of rubbery balls, smacked into the surface during the intense, high-energy game of pala, aka pelota, aka Basque racquetball.

It’s played with wooden paddles that look like overgrown, flattened spoons, and a ball not much larger than a golfball. Four people compete in pairs on the court, which is called a fronton. Boise’s fronton is the oldest still in use in the United States.

Despite the court being 100 years old this year, “it’s not just a historical thing for people to come look at,” said Henar Chico, who has spent six years playing the game. “No, it gets used every single day.”

For Chico, pala is more than a sport; it’s a connection to her homeland, a tool to bond with her kids and a way to strengthen herself as a person. She moved from the Basque Country in her early 20s when she married an American who lived in Boise. She moved having no idea of the Basque community here.

“When I lived in the Basque Country, I didn’t speak Basque, I didn’t dance, I didn’t play any sports,” Chico said.

It wasn’t until her kids were born that she started thinking about what it means to be Basque. She learned the language and studied the culture. Then, a year after her marriage ended, she found pala.

“The dancing, I didn’t get it,” she said. “But with pala I said, ‘You know, what the hell, I’m going to do it.’”

She used it as an opportunity to meet other Basque women and get herself back out there after her divorce. Then, she got her son on the court, who’s 10 now. They started playing as partners in the Women’s B League and recently made it all the way to the finals.

“We lost by one point and he cried,” Chico said. “Every time he loses, he cries out of frustration. It’s easy to go, you know, ‘It’s just a game,’ but now that I play pala, and I can feel [that defeat] inside, I can tell him that I know. I know what it feels like.”

Chico calls the fronton court a “beautiful room.”

“I mean, yeah, I like going and beating the ball and hearing the sound it makes, but it’s way more than that,” Chico said. “I’m doing something thousands of miles away, that despite living in my country, the Basque Country, I would have never done.”

Among the 25 or 30 Basque women who give up one night of their week in fall and spring to play pala, there’s the pale-skinned, very blonde Sarah Ober.

Once she played in a tournament against a visiting team and, “I was quite clearly the only non-Basque to play, and some guy was sitting in the audience and he was Basque and he was speaking to somebody in Basque, going through everybody’s last names and he gets to mine and he goes, ‘Ober? Aleman!’ And I was like, ‘What does that mean?’ And they said, ‘That’s Spanish for German.’”

Ober, who just finished a bachelor’s degree in German, who spent some time living in Germany, who doesn’t have a drop of Basque blood in her, loves pala. She was the first non-Basque player to join the women’s league when it started in 2007.

“I was a little hesitant about it because the Basque community is very tight-knit, so to come in from the outside was intimidating, but everybody was super welcoming,” she said.

Now there’s a handful of non-Basques who play every week and compete in tournaments.

She grew up in Boise, took a field trip to the Basque Center in elementary school like every other kid in the Boise School District, “but I didn’t know anything about it. It’s just here and if you’re not engaged in it, you don’t have any idea.”

Now, she tours the fronton court every Wednesday of the fall and spring, spending 45 minutes playing her game, and the rest of the evening sipping beer and eating croquetas from Bar Gernika, chatting with the other women.

And like Chico, she’s learned a little more about Basque culture through pala.

“I can say ‘hello’ in Basque, I think. And I can count to eight,” Ober said, laughing. “I understand what some of the festivals are, what the customs and traditions are. Like, the festival of San Inazio isn’t just an excuse to come down and drink kalimotxos until you can’t see straight.”

But pala is hard. Ober has never come in first place, despite playing for the past seven years, tearing a couple of ligaments in her knee and spending at least $700 on member dues to use the court. The closest she has come is second, three years ago.

“We were playing this one girl in the finals who is super good. I kind of quiver every time I have to play against her. We only lost by like three points and we got a bottle of wine at the end of it and I still have that bottle of wine. I refuse to open it,” Ober said. “Unless I get first place, then I will drink that second-place bottle of wine, and it will taste like victory.”

An entire chapter of the recent book, Becoming Basque: Ethnic Heritage on Boise’s Grove Street, is devoted to the fronton court and history of the game in Boise. To commemorate it, the Basque Museum also set up an exhibit on the court.

Basque Museum and Culture Center Director Patty Miller said an anonymous donation will help keep the fronton around for another century. The money will go to repainting the court, restoring its windows and installing more lighting.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter’s brother, Mark, blogged about the fronton in 2012, in an article called “My Favorite Room.” In it, he said people use the fronton almost every day. In fact, it’s probably used more now than when it was first built in 1914.

“It’s a treasure, and I hope it stands for another hundred years,” Bieter wrote.

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Spam handling 101: How to break down a scammer

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You have 3892 new messages

You have 3892 new messages

You know those emails you get sometimes which reek of spam from a mile away? Those messages that promise you an inheritance from the Prince of Nigeria or millions from that lottery ticket that turned out a winner but you never bought? Yes, they are annoying and an insult to the intelligence, and most of us delete them with a sigh as soon as they hit our inbox.

However, there are people like my friend Diana, for example, who decide they might as well have a little fun with these idiots and turn the tables on the nasty scammers until they break down.

I don’t know what bothered me more though, that he tried to get money out of my friend, or that he LOL-ed (ugh) in his final message, admitting defeat after being so beautifully played and manhandled. And please, PLEASE, pay attention to Tyrion’s postal code!


From: mata taylor
To: Diana Arbiser
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:44 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

Hello, I am Mata Taylor, I got your e mail address from a online forum that you are an excellent translator, I guess you would have worked for them. I will like you to translate an article for me, but first i need to know your language combination because it was not stated. I will be very happy if you can reply my e mail ASAP.

Thank You


From: Diana Arbiser
To: mata taylor
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:44 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

My language pair is Klingon > Dothraki.


From: mata taylor
To: Diana Arbiser
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:44 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

Thank You very much for the reply, that is the language combination i was looking for. I have attached the document to you, i want it to be translated into Dothraki. Please let me know the total cost of translating the article

Thank You.


From: Diana Arbiser
To: mata taylor
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 2:37 AM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

Dear Ms./Mr. Taylor,

The document you submitted is not written in Klingon but in what appears to be English. In order for me to translate it from Klingon>Dothraki, I would first need an English>Klingon translation. Do you think you could provide that? Otherwise, I can suggest a local translator who works in that language pair. His fees are US$1,230 (one thousand two hundred and thirty US Dollars) per word.

Once he completes the English>Klingon translation, I could then proceed to do the Klingon>Dothraki translation that you request. My fees are €279.70 (two hundred and seventy nine Euros with 70 cents) per word. Needless to say, you should add the applicable VAT, which can range from 6% to 21%, depending on the answer that you get after completing the “What Planet of the Galactic Empire Should You Live in?” questionnaire. You can find it, together with other equally amusing questionnaires, in Facebook. Or Twitter– I’m not quite sure here.

Please, let me know if these fees are agreeable, and also what’s your deadline.


Tyrion Lannister


From:  mata taylor
To: Diana Arbiser
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 19:10 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

Please can i know the total in dollars


From: Diana Arbiser
To: mata taylor
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:44 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

US$ 1,369,440.73 + tax. But paid in Euros.

T. L.

From: mata taylor <matataylor000@gmail.com>
To: Diana Arbiser <dianarbiser@yahoo.com>
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 7:45 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

Thank You very much for the reply, I am pleased with your price, Payment will be made by check, i will need your full name and address so i can issue out your payment.

Thank You


From: Diana Arbiser
To: mata taylor
Sent: Friday, June 28, 2014 5:14 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP

My name, as I have already mentioned, is Tyrion Lannister
My temporary address is: 31415 The Shire, Xyzzy, Alderan
Postal Code: Y0ur455h013

You didn’t clarify your deadline for this job. Translating Klingon to Dothraki is pretty exhausting, and I estimate it could take me as much as a cosmological decade, give or take. Would that be acceptable?


P.S. Please, make sure the check is in Euros, as I requested before.



From: mata taylor <matataylor000@gmail.com>
To: Diana Arbiser <dianarbiser@yahoo.com>
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: Translator Needed ASAP


Bilbao Travel Guide App, by Eusko Guide

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This week’s Astero weekly bulletin talks about the new Bilbao Travel Guide App – which by the way, is completely free until this Saturday, June 28th. I already got mine downloaded!

A new app, Bilbao Travel Guide, is available in both English and Spanish. To celebrate its launch, the app is completely free until this Saturday, the 28th of June. Afterwards, it will be priced at $2.99.

The app seeks to take the confusion and stress out of traveling by guiding users through the best that Bilbao has to offer, whether looking for tasty pintxos, a trendy clothing store or architectural gems. Each listing features a description, practical information, and the majority of the listings are accompanied by full screen, high resolution photos. There is also an interactive map of the city where it is possible to filter through every listing in the app as well as see where the nearest metro station, tram stop, or parking garage is located.

Eusko Guide also has a newsletter with to keep followers up to date about the latest news about the website as well as upcoming events and festivals in the Basque Country.

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


Donate to online publication Basque Tribune and win an exciting trip

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You can help Basque Tribune showcase the Basque Country to the world and win a wonderful trip.

Basque Tribune provides information on the Basque Country, in English, but in a little different way than other sites; it doesn’t provide everyday news, but instead pieces of interest written by experts and specialists in various fields including: politics, economy, culture, sports, history, society, and Basque language and a special section on the Basque Country.

How to make a donation?
Make a deposit in one of the options offered here. (Visa, Mastercard, or Paypal).

For every 10 Euros donated you will receive one raffle number for the deawing. When you make a donation, please send us an e-mail with your name and reference of deposit to trip@basquetribune.com and they will immediately send you your raffle number(s) for the drawing.

What can you win?

If your number is drawn, you will win 2 round-trip flights and hotel of double occupancy for one week in the Basque city of your choice. If the winner is from the Basque Country the trip will be to New York City.

Remember that you will earn a raffle number with each donation of 10 Euros to Basque Tribune.

The trip can be scheduled during the 12 months following the drawing date, except for high tourist season at the destination.

Promotion runs from February 15, 2014 to August 15, 2014. Drawing will be held on September 1, 2014 before the Notary Public Mercedes Hernaiz Gómez-Dégano. (This promotion has been registered at the Department of the Interior of the Basque Government. Contest regulations are held at the office of the aforementioned Notary Public.)

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I had a dream

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I know they say everybody dreams while they sleep, but I hardly ever remember my adventures when I wake up. Last night, however, was different because I was able to retain most of the story after I opened my eyes. In one of the dreams, a friend of mine who lives miles away offered to take my kids to the movies, which might not sound too far-fetched, but it is highly unlikely.

The other dream was rated R-ish and totally not happening. I would tell you all about it except my daughter has now developed an interest in following my blog, and she is only eight. Even if she were older, the fact that she’s my daughter prevents me from giving you all too much information.

I am not too worried about the impossibility of my dream to materialize because really, that’s what dreams are all about. Sure, there is the “Follow your dream” and the “American Dream,” and the stuff Disney feeds us on a regular basis, but more often than not, dreams never reach the reality stage. Instead, they give you a chance to relish on what’s probably never going to happen without leaving you feeling uncomfortable.

Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez, Basque players in the Spanish soccer national team

Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez, Basque players in the Spanish soccer national team

I must say, I rather enjoy an impossible dream than suffer when the little fantasy that could ends up abruptly. Take the Spanish national soccer team, for example. They left Spain with the very achievable dream of finishing first in the 2014 World Cup. As the defending Wold Cup champion team, fulfilling the dream was not only possible, it was somehow expected. Imagine the hurt, the humiliation, and the anger when they got kicked out two games into the tournament. It made me sad to see them go, but it would have been unfair to the other teams if Spain somehow had made it to the next round.

Yes, I cheer for la Roja (the “Red one”), during international competitions. True story. They used to be called la Furia Roja (the “Red Fury”), but not this year. For this World Cup, they replaced fury with fear, passion with doubt, their confidence broken by the pressure that comes from being the best team in the world.

I know it might sound hypocritical to root for Spain because I’m from the Basque Country, but until I am able to officially support the Basque national soccer team, I need a team I can rally for. I understand that most Basques’ stand on this issue is “La Roja me la trae floja” – which roughly translates to “I don’t give a shit about la Roja” and sounds way better in Spanish because it rhymes – but I feel a connection with the Spanish players that I don’t feel with footballers from other teams. (I could probably feel a real nice connection with a few of the Italian or Argentinian players, but I’ll stick to soccer for this post and that thing about my daughter that I mentioned before). All the hours I spend every season watching as many La Liga games as possible made the Spanish players feel like family.

This year, only four Basques were drafted to play in the World Cup: Xabi Alonso (midfielder), Javi Martínez (midfielder), César Azpilicueta (midfielder), and Stephane Ruffier (goalkeeper). Of those, only Stephane Ruffier has a right to feel no shame for watching the game from the bench because he is the substitute goalkeeper. Just standing there, observing the game when you’re actually in it, is kind of embarrassing.  It is too bad, because most of the time they do play like the big starts they are. So much so, that I sometimes forget Xabi Alonso plays for Real Madrid. That’s how good he is.

Ultimately, I take comfort in knowing that, historically, the Spanish national soccer team is made up primarily of Basque and Catalan players. So, if Basques players can play for la Roja without giving it a second thought, I can cheer them on without feeling guilty. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

The Directorate of the Basque Community Abroad announces four scholarships for 12-month internships

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This week’s Astero weekly bulletin brings some interesting news for those looking to expand their skills and work experience.

gobvasco_26_171_esThe Basque Government’s Secretary General of Foreign Affairs has announced four scholarships aimed at encouraging specialization and training in the field of Basque communities and centers abroad. These scholarships, part of the Directorate of the Basque Community Abroad, provide 12-month internships. Two of the scholarships will fund individuals in Vitoria-Gasteiz, while the other two will reside at Basque Delegations in Argentina the US respectively. The first two scholarships are in the amount of 16,000 Euros, and the other two are for 24,000 Euros each.

Deadline to apply is June 29, 2014. For complete information including how to apply click here (in Spanish), or contact the Directorate of the Basque Community Abroad directly.

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

Two awesome blogs you can’t miss just opened their doors to the public

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Hey guys, it’s finally Friday, time to relax with friends or out on the patio reading the news or getting caught up on Facebook. So what a perfect time to talk about a couple of new and exciting blogs that hit the Web this week. You know this is important when I’m taking a few minutes out of my busy World Cup watching schedule just to let you know.

First, I would like to introduce you to my counterpart in the Basque Country, Ysabel Bilbao. Not like she needs an introduction per se – you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in Idaho that hasn’t heard of Ysabel – but you might not have realized that she is now the proud writer behind EITB’s new blog, Por Amour. A Boisean in the Basque Country. Last month, she packed her life into a few suitcases and took the leap across the Atlantic to follow her heart. I know Ysabel so I can tell you, without the shadow of a doubt, that her posts will be insightful, funny, easy to read, and moving.

ysabel_bilbaoMy name is Ysabel Bilbao and I moved to the Basque County for love, it is that simple!

After making a long distance relationship work, I decided it was time to quit my job, sell my car, and try something completely new.

Every day is a new challenge and adventure that I will share with you as I leave the comforts of Boise behind, to make my life here, in the Basque Country.

Next, I like to present a very special blog, Sweetness Overload, written by a very special little lady, my beautiful daughter Maitane, aka Potintxo. She has a vivid imagination and quite the writing skills for an eight-year old, not to mention she can already type faster than me on the computer and with no typing lessons! She not only writes the stories, but she finds the pictures online, saves them to her computer, AND uploads them to her blog, all by herself.

Please, check it out and leave a comment, Maitane will be thrilled! I am really proud that she has taken to writing and I would love for her to continue sharing her thoughts, even if it’s just in the meantime, before she becomes a famous singer and model. Maybe by that time she will love writing so much we will have the next JK Rowling in our hands!

I am a girly girl and love necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair-clips. I am not a big fan of school but I like reading, hanging out with friends, and just learning cool facts! I love writing fiction stories about animals but I am not wanting to be an author when I grow up. I plan to be a singer and a model. I enjoy writing because it is a fun pass time and I just like making up funny stories!

I hope you enjoy reading these two wonderful blogs written by even more wonderful ladies.

Ikastola Night at Bardenay Downtown

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ikastola_logoDate: 06/16/14
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
Location: Bardenay on the Basque Block, Downtown Boise

Monday, June 16, 2014 from 5 pm – 9 pm at Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery on the Basque Block in downtown Boise.

This is the easiest fundraising event anyone could participate in! Go to the Bardenay located in downtown Boise on the evening of June 16th (between 5pm and 9pm), order yourself and/or your family a little dinner and some drinks, enjoy the great weather, and voila! A portion of all proceeds from that evening will benefit Boiseko Ikastola, Boise’s Basque cultural and language immersion preschool, and the only Basque language immersion preschool outside the Basque Country. You can be a part of the success of this unique school just by eating dinner at Bardenay, how easy is that?