Vacation season has started and we are out armed with our camera shooting everything that moves. From the chilly northern clime of the Low Countries we have descended to the Basque Country in Boise, Idaho. My sister, brother-in-law and three
nasty wonderful nieces live here and we have finally made good on our pledge to come and visit.
And why not? Boise is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and potato lovers alike–we both are both. Besides, Boise boasts the biggest Basque body politic beyond the borders of the bona fide Basque Country. And since Amaia hails from the outskirts of Bilbao, the draw was obvious and exciting.
We took a tour of the Basque Block of downtown Boise and from one street to the next we went from middle America to Euskadi.
A few lauburu and ikurriña do not a Basque community make; but the feel of the Basque community here is as authentic as an harrijasotzaile. We went out for a beer with a local couple in the Basque community here and upon entering the bar we were immediately bathed in the familiar clamor of too many concurrent conversations and the warmth of 39 cousins scurrying to make room for five more at their table. Even the table dynamics were spot on: the women were at one end sipping wine and calmly carrying a conversation while their men were at the other end eagerly drinking beer and bellowing at one another about everything, anything and nothing in particular.
Being in Boise and Euskadi at the same time is quite a trip. We had heard about the Boise Basques but until we experienced it, we really had no idea what to expect. Now we know and are gearing up for the quinquennial Jaialdi festival in 2015 where an expected 30,000-40,000 people will be Basque for a week celebrating, learning and lifting rocks.
And for all of you from the Old Basque Country who want to come but are not yet convinced, rest assured that you will be taken care of, for there are Basque stores here with everything from La Toja body wash to Albo anchovies. And Kas.
Orain Kaliforian gaude! Agur!