Por Amour. A Boisean in the Basque Country

I Dare You to Smile…


peopleI admit it,  in my home state people are very friendly.  I would love to think it is this way all over the US, but I can really only speak for Idaho, maybe Arizona.  Where I come from, people smile at others; it is what it is.

Well, it isn’t necessarily the same in the Basque Country, so I have decided that I have nothing to lose by smiling at the people here, specifically at the older generation who walk around with what I would consider to be a glare on their face.  You know they don’t mean to appear angry; it’s just their look.

If you are Basque and have spent any time here, you know exactly the people I am talking about!

They are the men adorned with a black beret and they wear a striped or checked shirt that is tucked into their navy blue pants.  We each know one or two, or more of them.  You know, the old guys with the navy blue sweater draped over their shoulders.

And you know their wives too. They are the women with very tan legs, a knee length skirt, and a silk or satin blouse with the jacket that perfectly matches their skirt, which rests nicely on their shoulders.  Oh, you know who I am taking about, the ladies who are quick to tell you how much weight you have gained since your last visit, even if you lost some!!

Those are the people I have been making a conscious effort to smile at as I pass them on the street or they pass me while I am out having a coffee.

And it has paid off!



First encounter, bar conversation last Sunday morning having a coffee…

          Me: Hello, good morning. (Of course I say with a smile on my face.)

          Old man: Do you know me?

          Me: No.

          Old man: Do I know you?

          Me: No.

          Old man: But you greeted me like you know me.

          Me: Yes, I did.

          Old Man: But you don’t know me?

          Me: No I don’t. I just like to smile. (Sounds cheesy but he caught me off guard with his question. I just expected a smile back or even a glare.)

Old man turns around, starts to walk away, and then instantly stops.  He adjusts the sleeve of his navy blue sweater, which had slightly fallen from his shoulder, then walks back toward me and says…

           Old Man: Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s a great way to be.

Next encounter – different day, different old man, different bar.

My cousin, Udane and I were having a drink one evening.  As we were talking, another gentleman, dressed as described above, with his hands clasped behind his back, casually strolled by with a scowl on his face.  He looked at Udane first and then me.

I smiled, he stopped walking.


Then he smiled and pulled two candies out of his pocket, a Werther’s Original for each of us.

— Random photos courtesy my cousin Udane.



13 thoughts on “I Dare You to Smile…

  1. Camille

    That is great! We are similar in that way. I feel like this is me every day of my life! I try to smile at everyone because someone told me that a friendly smile is sometimes all a person needs to feel like they matter and that someone noticed them. That they have value. 🙂 Love you.

  2. udane

    So trueeeee!! Had so much fun helping you!! Jajaja that candy was great and you really should keep doing that, giveing everibody a smile… A bite of positibity 🙂

    Love you

  3. Alicia

    And a beautiful smile you have to bring much joy to those around you! Miss you tons but love reading the blog. I’m proud of you taking this leap of faith, very proud!

  4. Alicia

    And a very beautiful smile you have to brighten anyone’s day! Sure do miss you lots and love reading your blog. So proud of you for taking this leap of faith, very proud! Love you tons!

  5. Jeanne & Joe Lejarcegui

    We enjoy your blogs. We are going to see Nicholas July 2 nd. We leave for Spain July 22nd. Go for one month. See you there.

  6. Damiana Uberuaga

    I have a big bumper sticker on my back window of my car that says


    I get people all the time that roll down their window and smile or tell me they are the winners, I always smile and say “Youre right!” It have something to do with winning the Best Smile in fifth grade, I don’t know, but its a good guess! I enjoy reading about your experiences.

  7. Denise

    I love reading your blog — thank you for sharing your observations, humor, and feelings. I will check in weekly, so don’t disappoint me:) Need that picture of Mr. Big. I know you can pull it off.

  8. Shelley Babbit

    This reminds me of when I went to Europe, The Czeck Republic. I am a very social, smiling person. My cousins warned me that I must not be social and not smile as it won’t be taken well. That is really hard to do when that is typically what you do. So keep it up. I am loving this blog. Makes me feel like I am reading a good book….

  9. Gloria Lejardi

    You were blessed with a warm smile that can change the atmosphere in any room; these lovely but grauchy looking old men will be your best friends by next month.

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