Tag Archives: Basque

Angela Linskey, Naera Haundi: Jam with scruples

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AngelaShopping for jams in the supermarket, I little expected to find Angela Linskey and much less the discoveries I would make when visiting Naera Haundi where the conserves are made.

Naera Haundi is a four hundred-year-old farmhouse officially in the Basque town of Abaltzisketa, though in reality located down a steep path on the side of a valley at the foothills of the Txindoki mountain, an ideal spot for spending a few days if, as the website says, it is peace and tranquillity you are after.

It is more than 30 years since Angela and her Basque husband Jesus Mari decided to leave San Sebastian to “try the rural lifestyle of a traditional Basque farm.” While perhaps happy to escape the increasing buzz of the city, however, it was a different concern that encouraged this couple to make such a radical change:

“We started getting a bit worried about the food we were eating. We read a book called Your Daily Bread by a woman who had been around a flour-refining factory where they were gassing the flour to make it whiter. We started reading more about what we were eating and it just went on from there. The only clear idea we had was that we wanted another kind of life and it had to be in the sphere of organic farming.”

Naera Haundi is dedicated to growing, processing and selling only organically home-grown fruit jams and jellies. “We make between 12-14,000 jars (of “Nahera” jam) a year. About 75% of that is currently from our own fruit… And the whole process is here – we don’t have any machinery, it’s literally spooning it in.”jams and jellies

The decision of Angela and others like her to pursue organic farming coincided with a growing trend for alternative farming during the 1970s and beyond (though still almost unheard of in the Basque Country) among people disillusioned with conventional methods or routines: “Most of us who started that way are from small or large towns… It was a revolution you see – not just going out and shouting in the streets – to go back and work on the land.”

From trend to trendy

Though organic products continue to have a rather middle-class image, Angela staunchly defends their dietary value: “If you’re eating organic, you’re generally eating very healthily – people eating organic food are not often at the doctors… If you take into account the hydrogenated fats and pesticides in conventional foods, what is that costing a country in its health service?” (Interestingly, the UK’s Soil Association recently published a report confirming the nutritional value of organic to be significantly higher than non-organic foods).

Since their compromise with organic farming over 30 years ago, Naera Haundi have taken steps to broaden their commitment to global issues such as climate change. “We have an installation with photo-voltaic panels for producing electricity… Next to them are thermal solar panels for heating water. We heat water for up to 10-12 people.” (Enough for the maximum 8 people they can put up in two apartments plus themselves).

Then there are the two wood-burning stoves: “Wood- produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as a rotting log,” she explains. “We use the ash – potash – as fertilizer and chip the wood we can’t use for compost.”

I point out that in Vietnam, fishermen on the Mekong recycle everything, including rice husks, out of economic necessity: “I think we need to be poor again,” she concurs. “The amount of things that people throw away.. (My generation) were brought up to think throwing food away was a sin.”

Naera Haundi BaserriOne is reminded of a by-gone era at Naera Haundi and not by accident. The modern obsession with packaging is one of Angela’s major grievances: “It’s just so unnecessary,” she says. She confesses to feeling “out of place” in her hometown of Birstall, West Yorkshire, partly due to the demise of high street shops. “It’s so disappointing – there used to be small shops, the dairy etc; now there’s (sic) just the two supermarkets – it really depresses me.”

Almost forty years have passed since Angela and her sister left Birstall  to embark on a hitchhiking holiday in France, deciding on impulse to come this way. She expresses curiosity at an English woman working for (the inherently Basque) EITB, but Angela’s integration after four decades is profound: “To live on a farm in this country, to understand the Basque culture, you have to speak Euskera… So when we came to (Naera Haundi) we decided we would use Basque all the time.”

The entire eleven acres of Naera Haundi, Angela and Jesus Mari planted themselves; trees include apple, quince and pear, though a recent cyclone in the Basque Country blew down fifty in total, twenty-seven of them pear trees, an all too poignant reminder for the couple of the possible effects of climate change. A massive problem, though possibly with a small solution?

“We just can’t continue with the way we’re consuming now,” saying Angela, “eventually we’re all going to have to go back to the 1950s – and that will be a good thing, not only for the planet, but for people’s health, physical and spiritual.”

Julia Barnes: ‘A trilingual Basque Country is perfectly possible’

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Julia Barnes aside the statue of Ken Follett in Vitoria-Gasteiz.So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator, Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.

You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice” and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.

Julia Barnes: It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe – all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!

In the third year some students do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here.

What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?

Julia Barnes: If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.

You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades?

Julia Barnes: It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.

Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular.

Julia Barnes: After A levels ( Bachiller), two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home.

You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?

Julia: I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture.

When did your Basque adventure start?

Julia: I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.

What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?

JB: I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there.

So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?

JB: I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.

So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.  
 
You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice" and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.
It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe - all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!
 
In the third year some students to do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here. 
 
What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?
If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.
 
You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades? 
It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.
 
Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular
After A levels ( Bachiller) , two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home. 
 
You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?
I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture. 
 
When did your Basque adventure start?
I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.
 
What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?
I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there. 
 
So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?
I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.

Play ball!

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In the afternoon, Koen and myself tried out a local sport called pelota. You hit a ball against a wall, and hope your opponent can’t hit it back. Pretty simple, no? Continue reading

A Basque Country in the USA?

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Something that kind a struck me the first time I heard it was the fact that there’s a quite large Basque community out west. West-USA that is. I never thought that a relatively isolated and European nation like the Basque Country would have swerved out that far in the past. Continue reading

Maritxu Kajoi: only one day away

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Maritxu Kajoi. Say what? For foreigners it’s yet again an unpronounceable Basque word, but for the whole Basque Country it’s one of the biggest parties of the year. Continue reading

Basque with a French twist

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Last weekend together with three Erasmus friends we went on a trip to the other part of the Basque Country, we went to Iparralde.

My French Erasmus friend was driving and told us on the way their that the French part would be very different from the Spanish one. At first I thought that he was just saying that because he is a Frenchman but once we arrived I could see and feel some differences yes.

We visited Bayonne, St. Jean de Luz, Biarritz and some little villages and castle that we came across. The beautiful views and beaches are just as amazing as the ones of the Spanish part. But the style of the cities is totally different. Most of the houses in Iparrelde are white with red balconies and doors, very charming.

Adriana and me with the waffles at the Christmas market

Adriana and me with the waffles at the Christmas market

The people on the street made a difference as well. Most of them spoke French and they were dressed in a different style then the people on the Spanish part. But the Basqueness on this part could not be unnoticed. The man wore barrets, Basque words were used and Basque food was served.

Nor could we escape the lovely Basque rain that we have felt on our heads the last month! The first day it rained like crazy and we were forced to enter bars and restaurants for food en drinks..what a bad thing to do! ;)

Saturday morning we walked true Bayonne and noticed a nice Christmas market! Me and Adriana, my Mexican friend, walked around it and tasted some delicious waffels with a lot of chocolate to make sure that our diets were ruined. A glass of ‘ Vine Chaud’ sounded good after the waffels. We went to the wine stall and orderd ‘ Deux vine chaud sil vous plaît’ when the man respond with a joyfull `a dos vino caliente!´. He turned out to be Basque and from that point we noticed that there were more on the streets! The ‘ Agur’ was all around us again!

At St. Jean de Luz

At St. Jean de Luz

In the afternoon we went to Biarritz, were it was raining as well. It was a charming little city with a lot of Christmas decoration and a lot of ‘ Olentzeros’ ! Here we watched our first match of rugby. What seems to be the most popular sport in French. I could just see that by the look on the face of my French friend. It made his day! Considering I’m not a big sports fan the rugby is not so bad to watch and it’s even funny when there is a nice tackle going on.

In the evening we went to a nice restaurant in Bayonne that turned out to be Basque! Here I order a stake that turned out to be huge! It felt like I was eating like a man and it was damned good for once. The guys order one kilo of steak for two and finished it all (including a piece of mine). We were very stuffed but we were in France so a big plate with cheese and marmalade and some more wine followed.

Very satisfied we walked on the streets a few hours later when we heard some trumpets and laughter. Attracted by the sound we ended up by a little bar were a live band was playing very cheerfully. The bar was stuffed with drunken and happy people and of course we squeezed ourselves between them. We had a good time filled with rum-orange shots and a huge can of beer that the bar women gave to her guest for free.

Some playing at the beach

The next day we were lucky enough to feel the sun shining on our heads. We started with a nice French breakfast and went to St. Jean de Luz by car. Here we played on the beach, saw some local dancing, made a big tour by foot while enjoying amazing views and ate some crepe before we continued our tour to whatever we would come across.

With a mad Frenchman behind the wheel we came across a lot! After making 10 spins at each round a bout we saw some castles, stopped to enjoy the view at a cliff and ate some cheese and wine on our way back in Hondarribia.

A castle we came across

A castle we came across

The good food, amazing views, all the Christmas decoration which made de towns very charming and of course my crazy companions made it a perfect weekend!

All adjusted

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Saskia and Chiara

Saskia and Chiara

When I decided to go to the Basque Country last year I told all of my friends and family in the Netherlands that they would be more then welcome to visit me. And they still are but at the same time, and I feel bad while I am typing this, they aren’t..

After spending two months in the Basque Country I feel like I am having a life here, it is of course a different life compared to the one that I was used to in the Netherlands but it really feels like my life. And I really don’t want it to turn back into my old Dutch life any time soon.
I started to realize all of this when my family started to visit me. In a normal week here I go to school, have nice dinners and parties with my funny housemates and friends here or I just do whatever I feel like. But now people have started to visit me and with the knowledge that more are coming it feels like I don’t time enough anymore to just life my relaxed Basque life.

There aren’t many weeks left here in which nobody is visiting and I can just hang out with the locals or do things spontaneous. I love all my visitors for coming but at the same I’m looking forward to the day they are leaving because then I can just do my own thing again. That feels really rude and ungrateful to write down because after all they are coming here for me but I will try to explain..

When somebody is visiting me then of course I will do my best to show them the most interesting sides of the Country and life in it.

Patty and Saskia

Patty and Saskia

I want them to enjoy their little vacation here and in my opinion being a good host is important then. Because it is all new to my Dutch compatriots I’m afraid that they might miss out on very nice things here when I will just drag them into my daily routine. Also I can’t try to improve my Spanish or Basque on the streets because it is impolite to them to speak in a language that they don’t understand. So I automatically adjusted my own days and manners here to theirs while they are visiting and that slows me down a bit in exploring everything during my little four month adventure here.

The winter is coming over the Country now, that is really noticeable outside. For sure people will change their daily routines because they can’t be living on the streets all the time like they did the last sunny months.

Because I just arrived last September I only know the way of living here while the sun is making it nice and warm outside so being on the streets everyday is a pleasure. Now that it is winter I would love to get to know the way of living during the cold season as well. I can imagine people still meeting on the streets but now for going inside where it is warm and cozy. But I don’t want to just imagine it I want to be a part of it. So I hope that the few personal weeks that I have left here will be enough for that.

Next to that I’m far from done with meeting new people here, getting to know what keeps them busy and meeting their families and friends or going to there houses.

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

So the feeling about having visitors is a little bit strange and mixed, the only certain thing that I’ve realized now is that I’m all adjusted to a Basque life.



I like it.