Monthly Archives: September 2011

Basque vs Holland part 1

I’m in the Basque country for three weeks now and I see a lot of things that are different than in Holland. Because I think it’s very funny, weird of interesting I will tell you about it. And try to explain the differences like I see them, so this is my opinion. Please let me know how you think about it. Witch is the ‘better’ country?


‘Gezellige’ Basques and ‘Egoísta’ Dutchmen

This Saturday I was invited to a harvest party. My teacher Joxe has a sister who had a hectare of white grapes and it was time to pick te grapes so the famous Basque Txakoli wine could me made from it. Every year they invite people to help them whit picking the grapes and to thank them, they have a nice dinner whit food, wine, music and dancing.

There where a lot of people helping whit cutting bunches of grapes and putting them in to crates. About twenty five volunteers consisting of young and old, women and men and strong or not so strong where helping. They didn’t want money or help just for a hour. No, everybody began at 10.00 a.m. whit picking and cutting.

In Holland these kind of situations are rare. Dutchmen don’t want to do things for free and certainly not for a stranger. The first thing my boyfriend asked me after the party was: “And did you get paid?”

For Dutch people it’s very normal to hire people to help you whit harvesting you fruits or plants. The people they hire are cheap workers like students or people from Poland or Rumenia. Or just let your kids do the work. And invite people you don’t know to a party? Well maybe if they are friends of friends that is possible but totally strangers, now we wouldn’t do that.

And a very big differnece are the grapes. In Holland we don’t have a lot of wine farmers. Roughly a hundred farmers grow grapes for wine. A Famous Dutch wine is for example Regent Barrique from a wine farm in Goesbeek.




Hola everybody,

How are you doing? I am doing great. Since two weeks I have bin in the Basque country and today I started working my second day at And because I´m studying here I have to write a blog about what I do and what thinks I come across.

But first I´ll introduce myself a little. My name is Meryl and I´m twenty-three years old. I come from Holland and there I live in a small town in the North-West called Heemskerk.
I live in an appartment together with my boyfriend Bart, who is twenty-eight years old and misses my very much, I think.

My family live close. I have a brother, Joey. He is twenty years old and lives whit my dad a 15 minute bike trip away. I also have a sister called, Joyce. She lives in a town nearby, Beverwijk, whit her boyfriend Eric and my cute niece Keela, who is two-and-a-half-months old.

Of course I go to school, after a two hour trip I go to school in Zwolle at the Hogeschool Windesheim. There I study journalism and I´m in the third year of my study. I would like to do something with journalism for children. In Holland it´s very normal that kids get informed about the news, in a different way because they don´t know everything.

In my spare time I love be at scouting. I´m a leader for boys and girls from 5 until 7 years old. Every Saturday I´m there to be Keet Kleur (Katie Colour) who love painting, arts and crafts and is a bit crazy.

If I´m not busy with the kids at scouting I just hang-out with my friend. We do fun activities like curling, hiking, hight teas, actually everything we come up whit.

I also like to do creative stuff. I recently purchased a projector so I can start painting again. I sometime design thinks like postcards, t-shirts, posters and other stuff I come across.

And well, what I do in my spare time? I sometimes work at a local newspaper called het NoordHollands Dagblad. I write story’s about events that are happing in my region. When I write I can be creative whit words I get happy, just like when I can be creative whit paint or on the computer.

I love to be creative, to try and make things for others which they would like. For me that is the challenge. I have to get in to the heads of people and think what they want and how they want things. That’s why I do what I do. I write to explain, amuse, inform and to inspire people.

Lately, when I went swimming

Have you ever wondered if your hair gets still wet if you wear a bathing cap? I haven’t. But I found out anyway.

Lately, when I went swimming I had to put on a bathing cap, as everyone does here. Yes, everyone, even bold old men. And no, I won’t show you a picture of what I look like in a bathing cap. Maybe they had a problem with guys hooking up on girls at the swimming pools, so instead of forcing everyone to wear a burkini they just went for the bathing-cap-rule.

However, I put on the bathing cap (still a little wet from my predecessor – maybe a bold old man?) as fancy as possible, and entered. Another decision would be waiting for me. There was a line for free swimming and a line for advanced swimmers. The decision was one between crossing an old (bold?) man with a big belly every minute or so and a rather ambitious middle-aged man, armed with small goggles and an even smaller Speedo. I went for the old man.

Unfortunately, the old man was a backstroker. So whenever I had to cross him, which was quite often, I had to dive to get by. Still, I somehow felt obligated to nod encouragingly whenever he paused on the end of a line, which was quite often as well. However, when another bathing cap entered my line I couldn’t bear it any longer. I changed to the advanced.

There, the guy with the small goggles and an even smaller Speedo had been displaced by a woman with small goggles and a big bathing suit. I thought I could handle that. I couldn’t. She did the dolphin butterfly stroke. Which I haven’t come to think of since I left primary school, but I was to be remembered that the dolphin butterfly stroke was quite fast. I tried to swim the crawl for a while to keep up with her, but it didn’t last long. Not even a line, if I intend to be honest with you. So I had a hard time trying not to be in the way of a real advanced swimmer. After a while I changed back to the free swimmers, where I saw my big chance coming.

Maybe someone wanted to reward my patience: The line had just been freed and I enjoyed swimming on my own. Finally.

When another old man entered my line after a while, I knew my time had come. I stepped out of the pool, retourned my bathing cap and went home. If anyone still cares: Your hair does get wet. But maybe I dived too much.

I’m not spanish, I’m basque

I’m lying on my bed in my room in my flat in my new home town, Arrasate. And I hear a cry. It’s so loud that you couldn’t overhear it, but still, nobody else will notice.  It’s the cry for independence. It’s the poster next to the closeby roundabout with this heart-shaped silhouette of Euskal Herria on it, it’s the Euskara you hear on the streets or the short cut hairstyles of the girls and women. It’s Aupa or Kaixo when entering the super market and it’s Agur when you leave.

Recently, a girl from school told me: “You know I’m not spanish, I’m basque.” This simple sentence expresses many feelings and represents many basques. I think that it’s not by chance that the official language up to the university level is basque and local festivities are not only often but also held high in regard. You can feel the patriotism around you – more than I experienced in other countries so far. You can hear the Txalaparta  playing (a wooden instrument) and drink homemade Patxaran (liquor) with them. People here like to drink in the streets, because that’s where they meet other people to chat, laugh and socialize. There are no barriers of age, gender or nationality and I appreciate being welcome after such a short time in this very special country.

First day at eitb

Today was my first day at eitb and the work we have done here is really different from what I am used to. Normally I study to become an English teacher, so this is a whole new world to me, and even though I think it is fun to try something new I have to admit that working with media is not my cup of tea. NOT that it has been boring, it’s just that I like to work with people. I have written to articles today; one about a royal cheating on his wife and another one about obesety and health. Nora, who works here, has shown me where to find free pictures to use for our articles. This was a little diary of today’s work.