A Basque in Boise

Arraun the world: An interview with Olentzero

Back in August I read an article about Olentzero’s plans to travel around the world and hand out presents from people in the Basque Country to relatives and friends living abroad (think of him as the Basque Santa). My kids and I love having him over at the Basque Center in Boise every Christmas, and we will certainly won’t miss his visit this year.

Olentzero left the Basque Country on February 15 and headed to Senegal, the first stop on his trip “arraun the world”. From there he will visit several places in the northern African continent, including Morocco, before returning to the Basque Country just in time for Christmas.

I have to say, I was a bit surprised when I found him on Facebook, but I guess these days even Olentzero can benefit from social networking to do his job. Of course, I sent him a friend request and pretty soon I was proudly sporting a new addition to my friends’ list.

Olentzero Munduan

I had to know more about his adventure and, now that we were friends, I asked if he wouldn’t mind being interviewed by A Basque in Boise. I inquired about his appearance too (he looks quite young in his profile picture, as you can see), and that’s when I learned he is actually Olentzero’s grandson. It makes sense now that he’d be on Facebook. His name is Iñigo Iraultza Iru, who just as he promised, sent me the answers to the interview questions as soon as he was done with the trip.

1. First things first, how many people participated in this project, and what are the names of the those who went on the trip?

Iñigo Iraultza “Iru”: I started the project alone, and then Markel and Iñigo joined the expedition.

2. Who came up with the idea? How?

I came up with the idea. This story started a few years ago, when I worked as Olentzero in one of Bilbao’s neighborhoods collecting the children’s letters. In their letters, kids from other countries asked for presents to be delivered to those who stayed behind in their native land. The address in most of the letters was their country of origin: Morocco, Senegal, Colombia… So I thought that Olentzero should travel around the world and, with that in mind, I started writing a tale with Olentzero’s grandson as the main character. He would go from one country to another taking presents from kids in the Basque Country to their families in far away countries. Little by little I started to believe my own story and after talking with some friends the fantasy became reality.

3. Why Olentzero’s grandson?

Olentzero is really comfortable in his baserri and without a doubt, he will continue giving out the presents in the Basque Country. His grandson, on the other hand, will travel all around the world handing out presents and ARRAUN THE WORLD letters. “Kids believe in these feats, just like I did when I was young,” says Olentzero. So everything stays in the family, the figure of the grandson came about. This will change every year, which means that next Christmas it could be Olentzero’s cousin the one responsible for taking presents outside the Basque Country. It’s a like a game, a way for us to get closer to such a famous character and, at the same time, take it a bit out of context.

We wanted to share with others an important part of Basque culture and learn about other cultures in the process.

4. After the trip, will you continue traveling around the world or will you go back to the Basque Country?

We will go back home and hand out the presents we collected during our trip, as the families we met gave us presents for people who live in the Basque Country. Then it’s time to start getting ready for next year’s ARRAUN THE WORLD!

5. The paddle is your badge. How important is it in the expedition? What means of transportation did you use? Why?

The paddle was essential for this project; it was like taking the sea and all of those who live by it.

Those of us who grew up by the sea always carry it with us, and taking the paddle is a way to remember that. “Arraun the world” is a play on words. With oars, by boat, skate board, bike, camel, motorcycle, truck or hitch-hiking. People in different places use different ways to move around, and it is a way to play with whatever they use in each of those places.

6. Where did you start your trip?

The expedition left from Leioa, Bizkaia.

7. How did people in other countries welcome you and your friends?

It’s been unbelievable. Families were extremely grateful for the letters they got and they offered us everything they possibly could. They were moved by the messages, and each visit with a family was a journey in itself. It’s something very special to give a letter to a family knowing it’s going to make them really happy.

8. Tell us about a special moment during your trip…

There are many special moments when you arrive to a country and, for example, when you start looking for the father of a kid that lives in the Basque Country and all you have is a picture, then is when the real adventure starts!

Or when you go into a house and they want to marry Olentzero to one of their daughters…

9. Once back in the Basque Country, what are you planning to do with all the experienced you gathered during the trip?

There are many choices, but for now, we think it would be interesting to tell people about the trip. We are not sure how yet, but one thing is certain: we will make our experiences known.

Olentzero might not now what the future will bring, but we do know how everything started.

Olentzero munduan: como empezó todo from Olentzero Munduan on Vimeo.

If you would like to know more about Olentzero’s trip and to check out pictures of the places he visited and the people he met, visit his website, arraun the world.

1. Hasteko eta behin, proiektu honetan parte hartu duzuen pertsonen izenak, eta zenbat pertsonak hartu duzuen parte Expedizioan?

Proiektua Iruk hasi zuen bakarka eta geroago Markel eta Iñigo sartu ziren espedizio barruan

2. Nondik sortu zitzaizuen ideia?

Ideia Iruri bururatu zitzaion, historioa orain dela urte batzuk hasi zen, gabon batzuetan Iru olentzero lanak egin zituenenan Bilboko auzo batetan, non umeen gutunak jasotzen ibili zen.Gizarte honen islada bezala, beste herrialde batzuetatik etorritako umeek, beraien herrialdetan bizi direnentzako gauzak eskatzen zituzten haien gutunetan. Gutun askoren helbidea haien herrialdekoa zen, Maroko, Senegal, Colombia…Orduan bururatu zitzaion Olentzeroa mundutik zehar bidaiatu behar zuela, eta pentsamentu horretik Iruk ipuin antzeko bat idazten hasi zen, non protagonista Olentzeroran iloba zen, mundutik zehar bidaiatzen zuela Euskal Herrian bizi diren umeak zein beraien familiak urrun bizi direnentzako opariak eramaten zituela.Horrela, bere ipuina sinetsi zuen, lagun batzuekin hitzegin ta istorioa hasi besterik ez zuen egin!

3. Olentzero ilobaren figura?

Olenztero gustura dago bere baserrian eta duda barik Euskal Herrian historia egiten jarraituko du, bere ilobari ordez, mundutik zehar opariak banantzen joatea egokitu zaio, ARRAUN THE WORLD gutunak. “ Balentria hauek, gazteei ustez diet, nik neu, nire garaian egin nituen bezela” dio Olentzeroak.Dana familian geratzeko, Olentzeroren ilobaren figura suertatu zen, eta gainera urtero aldatu egingo da, aurten Olentzeroran iloba Afrikara joan da, agian datorren urtean Olentzeroren lehengusina Asiara bidaiatuko du.Jolas bezalako bat da, nolabait guretzako hain xelebrea den pertsonai batengana hurbiltzeko era bat da eta era berean bere testuingurutik ateratzeko.
Gurea den zerbait ezagutzera emateko eta aldi berean besteen gauzak ezagutzeko

4. Ondoren mundutik zehar jarraituko duzue, edo etxera itzuliko zarete?

Etxera bueltatuko dira eta bidaian bildu dituzten opariak banatuko dituzte, zeren ezagutu dituzten familiak gure artean bizi direnentzako opariak emon dizkiete. Eta gero hurrengoko ARRAUN THE WORLD prestatzera!

5. Arrauna da zuen leloaren parte. Espedizioan zein pisu dauka arraunak?
Zein garraiobide erabiltzen ari zarete? Zergatik?

Arrauna ezinbestekoa da proiektu honetan, itsasoa eramatea bezala da eta bere ondoan bizi diren guztiak.
Itsasoaren ondoan heziak izan garenak, beti daramagu itsasoa gure barnean eta arrauna eramatearena hori gogoratzeko da.Arraun the world hitz-joko bat da. Arraunean, baltsan, patinetean, bizikletan, auto-stop eginez, kameluz, motoz, kamioian. Leku bakoitzean gendea era batean mugitu egiten da eta leku bakoitzean dagoenarekin jolasteko era bat da.

6. Noiz irten zineten Euskal Herritik? Nondik zehazki?

Expedizioa Leioatik irten zen, orain del hilabete bat

7. Orain arte egin duzuen ibilbidean zer nolako harrera eduki duzue? Zein balorazio?

Hau ikaragarria da, familiak esker handiz hartzen dituzte gutunak eta dana eskeintzen dizute. Hunkitu egiten dira mezuak jasotean, familia bakoitzean egindako visita bidai antzeko da izan da.Oso berezia da familia bateri gutun bat ematea jakinda ilusio handiarekin jasoko dutela.

8. Bidean edukitako bitxikeria, esperientziaren bat…

Momendu bitxi asko daude, herrialde batetara heltzen zaren momentuan eta adibidez Euskal Herrian bizi den mutil baten aita bilatzen hasten zaranean, eta daukazun bakarra argazki bat denean, orduan hasten da benetako abentura!
Edo etxe batetara sartzen zarenean eta Olentzeroren iloba beraian alaba batekin ezkondu nahi dutenean….

9. Etxera itzultzean zer egiteko asmoa daukazue proiektu honetan bildutako esperientzia guztiarekin?

Egia da aukera handiak daudela, baina momentuz gabonetan erakuzketa bat egitea interezgarria izango litzateke, beste guztia seguru gaude bakarrik aterako dela.

Thanks for passing by: ↓



3 thoughts on “Arraun the world: An interview with Olentzero

  1. Pingback: Olentzero’s visit to the US | A Basque in Boise

  2. Pingback: Olentzero’s visit to the US | A Basque in Boise

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