A Basque in Boise

Going places

How could I live without you?I took the wrong turn – well, more like I didn’t take the right turn – again on my way back to Boise from the Homedale Basque Dance. I got zero sense of direction. I think it’s hanging out in that part of my brain where my cooking desire took shelter long time ago and it’s forever afraid to come out. The only reason I arrive to places is thanks to my iPhone. Getting back on the right track is a 3-step process for me. First, I have to find a suitable place to stop the car so I can get on with the second step, which involves typing in my final destination. Most people would be done at this point, but not me. I need that extra push. Notice the first line on the directions:

  1. Go south on US-95 S/5th St towards Mathews Ln

Great. Is that right or left? Lucky for me, the iPhone comes equipped with a handy compass, so I hide Maps and open Compass, find which direction south is (it’s left!), and now I’m set to continue driving home. On the trip back I wonder why couldn’t they just say to “take a left towards Mathews Ln”, instead of making me sweat it in order to find the right answer. Then I figure the iPhone might be super smart but has no way of knowing what side of the road I decided to park on. (I do have more important things to worry about; I was just taking a break, ok?)

This made me think about how differently we approach giving directions in the Basque Country compared to the US. I mean, have you ever been lost in, let’s say Ortuella, looking for the Otxartaga Berri soccer field, and had someone help you out by saying (and I’m making it up, of course): “go south towards the church, then east when you get to the plaza. Keep going north until you see Mugica Driving School. The soccer field is on the southeast corner”? Hell no! You would probably get something like: “See the stairs to the church? Take them until you get to the Facundo shop, and then take a right. Keep going down that road for like a while. You will pass Txoko Atxitu, the Iredo, and the old Guardia Civil quarters. Once you get to the Mugica Driving School, look ahead. The soccer field is right by the train tracks.” Isn’t the Basque way more fun or what?

I’ve had people try to teach me tips and tricks so I can get situated. “See the mountains? That’s north.” I can pretty much figure out where south is from there, and let’s assume for a moment that I could also figure out east and west. So, what if there is fog? Or the mountains are otherwise out of sight? Yeah… I’m not getting rid of my compass-loaded iPhone anytime soon.

Thanks for passing by: ↓

7 thoughts on “Going places

  1. Diana

    Absolutely! In Argentina is the same. Nobody has a darn clue where north and south and east and west might be, but everything is about going straight ahead (déle derecho, jefe, derechito hasta el semáforo), turning left or right, and that’s it! What I hate, also, is when they tell you “walk two minutes and then…” OK, OK, wait… how fast do you walk and how fast do you think I walk? Walk two minutes or brisk-walk to minutes… or stroll, window-watching two minutes…? That could make the whole difference between turning into the right or wrong street… As long as you are not left/right impaired (and I know a couple of people, believe me, and to one of them I used to be married), everything should be fine.

  2. Henar Chico

    Hahaha, really? He is left/right challenged? That’s funny…

    My all time favorite though is: “The restaurant you’re looking for is on the northeast corner.” Seriously! I will never find it! Didn’t I just tell you I can’t find the north, how do you think I’m going to find north AND east?

  3. nere


    You’re not the only one who got lost last night coming back from Homedale. We missed the right turn on “Chicken-Dinner Road”… yes … there is such a road… but thanks to the grandson of
    a Basque sheepherder (innate i-pherder) / sherpa /aka my husband… we got home… let’s say… after taking the scenic route!

  4. Henar Chico

    That’s funny! (I see you got the comment thing down)

    Thanks for sharing, Nere, I don’t feel like such a loser now 🙂 I’m glad you guys made it home safely, and that I got to hang out with you at the dance. You know how much I enjoy chatting with you.

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