Headed to the US for the 16th time. Well, maybe it’s the 13th or 14th, I can’t remember anymore how many times I’ve been back since I moved to Boise, but this is for sure my sixteenth year abroad. As much as I hate sounding cliché, time does fly. If it weren’t for the iPhone’s amazing ability to show my each and every wrinkle on those close-ups taken with friends and family I’d probably forget how fast I am approaching 40. Not that I care, mind you. I’ve learned one or two things since I left.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago how I saw Euskadi, has it changed in my opinion? Maybe a bit, with immigration being the highest I’ve ever seen – kind of like the unemployment rate – and building walls deprived of political messages for the most part. And the blankets on transatlantic planes keep getting thinner and thinner. I’m starting to feel like the Emperor that needed new clothes. But that’s not really a Basque thing, cost-cutting is a global affair. On the other hand, we Basques are as dirty as we’ve always been, judging by the thousands of plastic glasses, trash, and bodily fluids left on the floor in Santurtzi after a whole night of partying. I have no doubt outsiders find it disgusting (because it is), but I only see good times when I look back at the crap through the window of the first morning bus to Ortuella.
Ortuella. A small mining town bordering Santander or Burgos – depending on whom you talk to – but which is, I swear, still inside the Basque Country. It might not be the prettiest or the most fun, but it’s mine and looking at it through the eyes of my kids this summer has made me appreciate it even more. The concept of a play date is lost here. Why schedule one when everybody knows to gather at the park from 5 to 8, rain or shine? Impromptu soccer games everyday, everywhere, anytime. My son’s version of paradise. Parents having a late night drink on a patio while the kids play on the alleyway nearby. Young girls don’t need to wear the top part of the bikini at the beach. Neither do the older ones, for that matter. Nobody gets a ticket and nobody cares but my kids, who grew up in the United States. Finding comfort in being naked it’s something I haven’t yet been able to teach them.
These twenty days have been non-stop, visiting with family and partying with friends. I come back to Boise with great memories, fun stories, and mixed feelings overload. It’ll take a few days to untangle them all.
- Ibai Gómez: An interview with one of Athletic’s youngest stars (only Spanish)
- Boise gets ready for San Inazio 2012