Monday, January 30, 2012

Sole searching

When I was home awhile ago, I got to visit my favorite place to shop ever - Target.  After coming home, I thought I would see what I missed and peruse thier website and was quite shocked when I found a pair of Espadrilles for sale online.  Amazingly popular in the Basque Country, I had no idea that the fad had made it to the States.

What are Espadrilles you might ask?  Check our this San Sebastian colored pair on Target's site.  Basically, they are a casual pair of shoes - with the top made of canvas and a rope-like sole.  Derived from the Catalan (northeastern region of Spain) word for shoes, espardenya, the shoes are said to be named after the tough grass used to make rope in the area.  Made there since the 14th century, the shoes have been popular in Basque Country for more than a century too.  While Target has a bit more manufacturing work added in, the Basque pairs are always made out of one piece of canvas.

Worn by men and women, both Joseba and I have a pair.  Well, I have two pairs to be exact - a lavendar pair and a black pair with the laces too.  Incredibly comfy, you can really only wear them in dry weather, which is not so often lately here haha.  You can kind of see me sporting my black pair in this photo taken on Santo Tomas Day in December.  While once part of the peasant clothing, they are a must-have in almost everyone's wardrobe here.  So, if you want to put a little Basque into your life this Spring/Summer, buy a pair and take a walk in my shoes.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Living among culture

While this is pretty big news and I don't know how I didn't blog about it when it actually was announced in June, Donostia - San Sebastian has been selected by the by the EU as one of the two European Capitals of Culture for 2016.

While 2016 is quite a ways off, Donostia is already preparing for a year full of European cultural events that will attract tons of attention to our little beach town.  Set up in the 80s, Europe decided that culture wasn't getting as much attention as politics and economics in the Union and that shomething should be done to spruce that up.  With Athens being named as the Capital of Culture in 1985, the naming of cultural capitals began.  Since then, Capitals have included Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Prague, Stockholm and many more.  In 2011, Tallin (Estonia) and Turku (Finland) were in the spotlight and this year, Guimares (Portgual) and Maribor (Slovenia) are kicking off thier year of culture.

With the intention to celebrate culture, the European Commision set up this initiative to, according to thier website, highlight the richness and diversity of European cultures as well as celebrate the ties between said cultures.  The program accomplishes this for the EU but for the host city does even more.  With a big increase in tourism as well as a year full of cultural events, the Capital of Culture's name is resounded all over Europe.  For the last year and a half or so, I have been hearing about SS being the City of Culture while they were campaigning to win.  Many cities all over Europe put in a bid and advertised why THEY should be the Capital.  Here is the promotional video for Donostia that helped them win:

It definitley makes the city look amazing, which it is.  From 3 beautiful beaches as well as the coastline, San Sebastian is home to many surf competitions, rowing races and summer activities.  The Film Festival brings people, famous and not, from all over the world to see one of the hundreds of movies shown at this International Filmfest.  The Real Society soccer team is in the top league in Spain and classifies as a legitimate professional team, drawing sportfans to the town as well.  With a library in each neighborhood and over a handful of museums in the city, art exhibits and cultural talks are always happening.  The maintaintence of Basque culture, be it with thier dances, songs or sports helps show the history of the city.  The food - pintxos, Michelin restaurants, and fresh sea food at the market are also amazing additions to the eating culture of Donostia too.  Whether it is parachuting or concert-watching that you want to do, San Sebastian really does offer it all.  I guess I could say I am quite biased, living here some time now, but watching that video, you really get the impression that it is an incredible place to visit - and it is!  Case in point, you should pay me a visit!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's for lunch?

I normally try to stay up to date with my American news and lately have been noticing a bit of buzz about the school lunches that I can't help but read.  After bringing my lunch to school (signed napkins by mom and all!) for most of elementary school, and then buying from the special cart (pizza pizza pizza) in junior high and high school, I barely even remember what an American school lunch is made up of, except that no one really wanted it.  Nachos, pizza, burritos - these are the sort of things I remember giving up my 'special cart' meal or sack lunch for.  Here, since I help the babies eat (aka I feed them), I get a free school lunch as a payback. On the whole, I would say that the school lunch here is drastically different (dramatically more healthy) than anything I remember from K-12.

Not knowing much about the topic beforehand, my online reading led me to learn that the Deparment of Agriculture will start setting calorie limits for school lunches starting next year.  Along with that, Federal Officials will be upping the requirements for veggies and fruit served to at least 3/4 cups and 1/2 cup respectivley.  Whole milk will be replaced by fat free milk and by 2015 all grains will need to be whole-grain.  While that all sounds amazing - I have also learned that somehow schools have been counting the tomato sauce on pizza as a veggie along with the potatoes of french fries.  Not exactly what the Government is going for I doubt. 

Schools nationwide are up in arms about the cost this will lay on thier budgets, but it seems like a necessary measure when you take into account that over 15% of children are obese.  While home meals make a big difference, school meals should provide a healthy and balanced meal as well.  After having unbalanced meals for so long it seems, the US is finding it hard to get back into the healthy swing of things, but seeing a different kind of school lunch every day, I know that it is possible.  The even more unbelievable thing and something that educators doubt is that, yes the kids really do eat it!

Each month, like in the States, we recieve a menu of the meals for the month.  There is always a first course, followed by a meat or fish, and dessert.  While not listed on the menu, salad  and fresh bread are always available as well.  The food service company that services our school is called Askora and on thier website they claim that each school lunch only contains 35% of the daily recommended calorie count to combat youth obesity.  Below are a few of the lunches I dined on this month:

First courses:
- Roasted potatoes with peas
- Spanish tortilla (omelet)
- White or Red beans or Lentils
- White rice mixed with veggies and egg

Second Courses:
- Cod fish
- Pork with mushrooms
- Roasted  Hake fish with red peppers
- Chicken breast with mushrooms

 - Fresh fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear, mandarins, etc)
 - Plain yogurt with sugar added
 - Soy yogurt
 - Chocolate brownie (only served once a month)

PHOTO:  In this photo you can see one of my lunches.  Although not presented so beautifully, it was pretty tasty - mixed salad topped with oil and vinegar, red beans, breaded hake fish with topping and for dessert some pineapple slices and a plain yogurt.  

Granted, there are days that the kitchen serves someting I just don't want to eat - hot dogs, deviled eggs  and pig's head (yea people eat that here...ewwww) but on the whole the lunch is quite impressive.  Seeing as the students and teachers eat the same thing it has to be somewhat tasty.  I have heard of schools that have much better food though - even some with cous cous!   Water is the only drink offered with lunch.  There are no soda machines or vending machines at all. 

Overall, having not eaten school lunch since I was a school girl, I can honestly say I don't hate having to eat it that much, which could be quite shocking to hear - an adult who enjoys the school lunch!  Go figure! 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Basque Country Fan #1

As many of you know, I have started to publish some pieces online with different online magazines.  I write because I like to write, but to be able to share my experiences is a special treat.  I know that my family and friends enjoy reading my blogs because they want to know what's happening in my  life and how things are going, but lately, with more interest in my stories I am actually starting to see people that I don't know excited to read what I have to write - which is an amazing feeling.

Awhile back I wrote a blog about a film I went to see in Euskera during the San Sebastian Film Festival called Bertsolari.  It was a documentary about the Basque spoken poetry, it's past and present and impact in the Basque Country.  Coincidentally when I shared my cider story with one online magazine, they were also interested in running a version of this Bertsolari piece.  I was tickled pink.  On Facebook and thier website it got a bit of buzz and people seemed to be curious about this artform.  While I loved the activity, I was most happy for it to have been picked up by another website called About Basque Country.  They ran the article on thier page along with an intro about my writing.  The page is here, and since it is in Spanish, I will do my best to translate it so you can see what they have to say.

Amanda Gonser is already known by our regular readers, she wrote a lovely article about Olentzero for a newspaper in Washington State that we posted on our site and we are sure we will keep publishing her work about the Basque Country.  In this instance, she has written a piece about bertzolarismo in Big World Magazine, a site that sets out to look into other cultures and realities to combat global homogenity which is causing a loss of local cultures.  
This article is without a doubt written by what we would call a 'friend of the Basques'.  It is an explanation that seeks to show the love and interest that an 'outsider' who has come to our country as well as give a true and fair look into what we Basques are and what we do.  It is a viewpoint that contrasts the negative stereotypes that we don't like and have turned into our international image.  We are sure that with the work of these 'friends of the Basques', it's possible to change this incorrect image that many people have of the Basque Country.  Sadly, the people and places are not 'what they are', but 'what people think they are'.  Because of this, great work, from people like Amanda Gonser is fundamental for our future.  
Thank you.

I guess living here, I have become quite a Basque fan.  The culture is amazing.  The people are friendly and proud to be from here.  The traditions manage to live on in a very modern and homogenous world.  I feel lucky to have the opportunity to live in such a unique place and feel that I would be wasting it if I didn't share it with everyone I could!


Friday, January 20, 2012

I had a dream

While everyone was celebrating MLK's legacy and his dream, I found myself on Monday sort of in a dream state myself.  This past weekend I turned into a true 'jetsetter' and just went to the States for a couple days - yea about 30 hours of flying and only about 55 hours of being there, which explains why on Tuesday night when Joseba picked me up at the Bilbao airport, I found myself asking 'was I really just in NYC?

And the answer was yes!  One of my best friends from college, Monica, was happening to have a baby shower that weekend and her mom contacted me and told me I just HAD to come and that she would buy me the ticket and we could suprise Monica together.  It was un-turn-downable!  Twelve hours of flying, a million passport checks, and a long wait for my bag later, I was in New Jersey, leaving the bagage area to the smiling faces of Monica's mom and her cousin.  While I didn't feel the jetlag immediatley, it soon hit me and I fell asleep until Monica came home for dinner.  Her mom excitedly rushed upstairs to wake me up, and I came down casually and asked for some water.  Quite surprised, she gave me a big smile and we hugged - although with a pregnant belly it was a different hug than we had ever had.

We spent the evening catching up and swapping stories with all the family and then headed home.  Along the way, I had mentioned I'd like to go to a grocery story during my short stay and although not a supermarket, we stopped off at CVS for a lil shopping.  After not having lived or even BEEN to the States in almost 3 years, I get extremely excited about all things from home.  Dr. Pepper was my first neccessary purchase, followed by mac n cheese, sour cream and onion lays, bean and bacon soup and the list goes on and on.  Everyone always offers to send me boxes full of all the things I miss, but the funny thing is that after not having things for so long you just sort of forget they exist - I sort of had forgotten about all the candy bars we have and Arizona Ice Tea - while all delicious these are things that wouldn't even cross my mind living here.  Of course when I am home I go crazy, but then come home and go back to eating my normal stuff.  Something that even I was surprised that I forgot was 'cash back' at stores.  It just does not exist over here and I was so shocked/happy to have the little credit card machine ask me if I wanted cash back - don't mind if I do thank you!

Stocked up with goodies we rested at home and got up early the next morning for the all-important Baby Shower.  Monica's mom and her best friend Shalimar had organized the party and it was lovely - a winter theme with a momma and baby polar bear as the mascots.  The cake was in the shape of an igloo and was something you would see on a Food Network channel (also kinda forgot about that if you can believe it).  Seated at the friends table, it was so amazing to chat away and joke around in English - not only that, to speak in English, hear in English, see things in English, do everything in English.  I'd forgotten how friendly waiters are and it felt amazing to say 'thank you' instead of 'gracias'.  While I do speak Spanish and it's not that it is hard, it something I have to think about - whereas English is obviously natural.

Between the hundred baby gifts she received, it was sort of strange to see where our lives had ended up.  Monica and I have been friends since freshman year of college (Go Devils!) and had some pretty fun times.  Later I moved to NYC and a bit after she moved to Jersey.  Since moving here we have stayed in touch and watching her open up baby gifts next to her fiance it was kind of a 'wow, we are grown ups now' moment.  Weird how it sneaks up on you.

On the way back to her place, we drove along the riverside and with the freezing temps and clear sky, New York was perfectly visible across the Hudson.  Monica drove along like it was nothing, and I rode along like a tourist - taking in the view and loving every moment of it.  With the sun setting the windows shone a orangey-gold and the Empire's spire blasted a green light over the city.  From across the river it looked so peaceful, and it was fun to think of the thousands of things going on at the same moment over there.  Having only lived in NYC for like a year and a half, I honestly idealize the city to the max.  I loved living there and although I wouldn't try to repeat it (can't repeat something you see as practically perfect), my heart swells when I think of the city and all that goes with it.  And while I wasn't even close to my home home, since the Big Apple was at once my home I guess I got a nostalgic feeling.

The thing is, I don't exactly get homesick, having not lived at home for almost 10 years, but I do get, I guess you could say country sick in the sense that from time to time I miss my homeland.  You cant go grocery shopping at 12am here.  You don't get your coffee in a mug.  You can't find Cool Ranch Doritos.  We don't have waitresses who seem genuinely happy to be serving you.  You don't have hours of endless home shows (maybe better hahah).  There are so many other stupid things that until you don't have them you don't even consider appreciating them. 

The city skyline was the backdrop to our brunch the next morning as well as we ate in Hoboken, NJ along the riverside again.  Breakfast here is a croissant or toast or even just coffee at a bar, and oh my gosh was I happy to see a massive menu of just morning meals!  I rocked a delicious egg/potato/cheese/avocado/tomato skillet, toast with those little packages of jam they have sitting in those 4 package holders on the table, endless coffee in a mug and ice water (impossible to order here).  I was in heaven and again gazed at NYC almost the whole meal.  After, my American dreams became even more amazing when we stopped at...drumroll please...TARGET!  Pretty much my favorite store of all time, I went on a fast mini-shopping spree - greeting cards, clothes, NyQuil, a new purse, etc.  I could have stayed all day, honestly. 

With my little carry-on suitcase packed to the brim, we stopped shopping and then had a few hours to kill before my flight, which we spent watching TLC.  I used to watch this channel religiously - no matter what was on (except A Baby Story).  I was happy to learn of this 'new' (new to me atleast) show about the weddings - 4 girls go to each other's weddings and vote for the best (drama much?!) along with Next Great Baker or something like that - loved it!  HGTV got my attention from time to time with the classic House Hunters.  With leftover pizza, Dr. Pepper and these shows vegged out on the couch, I was in American heaven. 

Sadly though, my few hours in my country had to end sometime and before I knew it I was on the return flight home.  Joseba picked me up after my long journey with a big smile and an even bigger hug and I will say it was great to be home!  The carride back though, with the jetlag setting in, I still couldn't believe I had just went to NY for the weekend.  Dreamlike for sure!

Kisses (English English English!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Walk this way

While I normally write about my trips or happenings here, I am now doing my first ever blog about a movie.  Makes it sound like I am a sellout huh?  Well, I just watched this movie called 'The Way' and maybe some of you already know about it because it is has been out since May, but I really liked it and thought some of you might too.

Starring Martin Sheen, it is about a father who is informed that his son has died in France during the Camino de Santiago - a pilgrimage that stretches across the north of Spain and France.  The father upon arrival decides to continue with his son's mission and does the walk himself, spreading his remains along the way.  Touching and entertaining, as the movie unfolds you get the opportunity to know the stone-faced grieving father along with the people he meets along the way, all walking the Camino for thier own personal reasons.  By the time they reach Santiago de Compostela, the end of the Camino, you are fully enveloped in thier lives and feel something swell up in your own heart as they each make thier entrance to the famous Cathedral marking the end of thier journey.

Here is a youtube preview:

Besides being a beautiful story, I think I identify with it as a travel movie for two reasons, one being that it is a movie about seeing another country, not just being a tourist in one.  Like is true on the Camino, the pilgrims stay in lodging houses that have rows and rows of beds and during the walk get to know real people from the towns where they stay and experience the places they pass through instead of just arriving on a tourist bus.  This is the type of travel I love and think it should be done more often.

Another reason I like the film as a travel story is that, drumroll please, the Basque Country appears in a huge portion of the movie!  Until maybe mid-way (like an hour in) all of the scenery is of Euskal Herria - both French and Spanish sides.  From Donibane Garazi to Pamplona there are great shots of rolling green hillsides that although are in different regions of the Basque Country than me, ring true to the scenic views of this gorgeous place I call home.

Impactful and enjoyable at the same time, I really enjoyed this trip along the Camino via this movie and think you might too.  The quote from the film that stuck with me the most is that of the dead son when he says 'you don't choose a life, you live one.'


Monday, January 9, 2012

Sharing is caring

Just a quick update to share a Basque cider story of mine that was posted on an online site called Big World Magazine. 

As the editor put its, the site is all about seeing the world from a different point of view - to explore and discover it.  The site is comprised of journalists all over the world sharing stories of thier travels, experiences and insights.  While only my first article on the site, I hope to be able to share my thoughts about all the amazing Basque cultural aspects I get to participate in first hand as well as some of the amazing things I have experienced on various trips. 

Click HERE to take a look and explore the site - there is a wealth of information from people who are experiencing the world for all it is and want to help you get in on it in the action too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prost Neujahr!

To ring in the New Year, Joseba and I headed off to Berlin to meet up with our friends, Madeline and John, from London.  We arrived 2 days before them and took that time relive our last trip to Germany's capital city over a year ago.  Again we rented an apartment from Craigslist, but this time in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg that we loved last time we visited.

Our first night however was dedicated to our old neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg to the north of the city center.  On a mission to find the restaurant where we had an unexpectedly tasty meal before, we managed to find our way to Der Imbiss, which means 'food to-go' in German, and although it is a small space, is great space to eat-in. While what Joseba ordered, Popeye's Cigar (a spinach wrap with melted cheese and spices) was no longer on the menu, my massive burrito was but with the menu change got a whole lot spicier than I remembered.  So, while different it was great to revisit something from our first trip together.  Soon after, tired from travelling since 4:45am that morning, we headed back to the apartment.

The next day we spent poking around our neighborhood Kreuzberg.  When we were there the first time, we had only been able to spend one day in the area - admiring the gorgeous buildings and walking along the stretching Spree River canal on a oh so sunny day.  Known as an immigrant hotspot, in 2006 more than a third of the residents of this neighborhood south of the city center weren’t German citizens.  This diversity is the key ingredient to the community’s eclectic spirit.  From punks and creative artists to students and gays, the area oozes bohemian vibes and provides travellers a unique view into Berlin from the past as well as the current and trendy melting spot.  

With its start in 1820, Kreuzberg didn’t gain much momentum until the mid ccentury with the industrial boom which called for more housing and quick.  After WWII, the borough was surrounded on 3 sides by the Wall and became infamous as an alternative and squatters place, for which is still claims a bit of fame.  After the Wall came down, Kreuzberg was no longer isolated from the rest of the city and with government controlled rents, immigrants flocked to the area to call it home.  During the War parts of the neighborhood were badly bombed and new cheaply built apartments were erected to accommodate the residents.  Other areas, however, were left untouched, and provide Berlin’s best look into the city before the chaos began.  Mixed within the antique buildings are the quirky second-hand shops that the neighborhood is also known for.  While some were as big as warehouses, we didn't manage to  find anything we desperatley needed and just continued our neighborhood exploring.  

Finally hunger set in and we had our hearts set on a Thai food spot called Phuket.  We were pretty surprised with all of the cafes because they had prices to die for and it seemed like quite decent meals.  In this Thai we each got soup, a main meat dish with rice and 2 spring rolls for a total of 13€ which was shocking.  You can never get that here in Donostia!  

For the evening we decided to try and find a fun spot to dance to some good tunes.  We found a funky soul DJ event at a bar in the neighborhood but when we arrived found out it was more rave music than Marvin Gaye and settled on a little bar in the area that suprised us with thier music selection.  The gamit ran from current stuff to 50s and 60s hits and although everyone was smoking (which you can't do indoors in Spain anymore, so we aren't used to it) we had a good time dancing the night away.  

All boogied out we had a good sleep and woke up to the ringing of our doorbell - our friends Madeline and John had arrived from London!  We spent the day showing them around the neighborhood and then stopped off at the grocery store to stock up on New Year's Eve goods - rum, coke and pinapple juice - the essentials haha.  After a much-needed nap our End of 2011 party started in the apartment, with pajamas and all.  With the rooftop we could admire the fireworks being set off all over the city.  While we American save some 4th of July fireworks to ring in the new year, Germans sell them everywhere leading up to the day - even the supermarket!  So, you can imagine the lit sky counting down to midnight!  With a bit of classic 90s music to sing along to, we successfully spent the last few hours of 2011 belting out hits, dancing in slippers, sipping drinks and loving every last firework.  
To be like the Germans, we grabbed a beer for the road and headed to Brandenburg Gate for the official countdown.  Having arrived too late to actually enter the gated area, we made our own party compliments of our singing/dancing skills again.  Fireworks lit up the streets - from a scarily close distance - and finally at midnight the big show came as well as New Year's hugs and kisses.  Having started celebrating so early though...we didn't make it to much partying that first night of 2012 and instead retired early.

For our first day of the year, although drizzly, we walked along the East Side Gallery - the longest part of the Berlin Wall that is still erect and has been painted by artists from all over the world.  Quite a sight, I was happy to have the chance to see it again.  Along the same artsy lines, we next headed to the center of town, Mitte it is called, to check out the Tacheles Art House.  Originally in the Jewish Quarter, this was once a department store and later a Nazi prison, but after the Wall came down it was taken over by artists and still remains in thier hands to this day.  With floors and floors of rooms where the artists display thier works and maybe some even live, the whole place is a grafitti dream with not a single part of white wall.  

Sadly, the rain crushed most of our other plans for the evening and the next day in the city and we eventually just managed to go from bar to bar, sampling food and drinks while taking in the view and best people watching ever.  My favorite bar, same as last time, is one called Luzia.  It is a large, deep bar with the entire front fachade as a window.  To enter you walk up a few steps and upon entering you see a hodgepodge of mismatched tables and chairs, antique chandiliers, and a vase of fresh flowers and a glowing candle on each tabletop.  

As kismit will have it, the exact place we sat last year was free - a corner bench and table right next to the window.  In Spring the window was open and flower boxes came up flesh with the bench, but with being in the middle of Winter the glass was closed but didn't take away any of the charm.  The bar in the daylight would probably look quite unpleasing to the eye - painted a shiny gold, with the pipes exposed and nothing matching, but with the dim lights that gave the place such a intimate mood, it was perfect.  We spent over 2 hours just chatting and enjoying German beers and wine and good company.  With a tasty burger from down the street restaurant cleverly called Kreuzbuger, our last night in Berlin was a great calm way to start the year with friends.  

After saying goodbye the next morning, Joseba and I spent our last few hours in Berlin wandering yet again and then eating an incredible and yet again cheap lunch.  This time a massive chicken pasta in peppercorn sauce and a pizza that is all the rage in the city - thin pizza bread, rich sauce, some mozzerella, arugula and a bit of shredded parmesan - again for less than 15€.  Over lunch we decided that Berlin, being so special to us and our relationship, should try to be a destination spot of ours each year.  While I did brave the cold this year I didn't die as much as I thoght I would, but I think if we are planning our next trip it should be in Summer.  Will keep you posted as to our next journey to this addictive big city!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Olentzero didn't bring coal

As you remember, the Basque Santa, Olentzero comes like ours on December 25th and this year he didn't disappoint.

Christmas Eve dinner was delectable although quite different from something we would eat on the same day at home.  It started off with a salad Joseba and I made - with smoked salmon, raisins, turkey, small sea snakes (called gulas), some goat cheese and nuts.  Next came clams which, as always, I passed on and then red peppers stuffed with beef and bechamel.  Next were the much-anticipated 'txipirones en su tinta' - which translates to squid in its own ink.  While a seafood plate covered in thick black sauce sounds and looks about as far away from appetizing as possible, the actual taste is great.  If you could you stomach more, steaks were the next menu item and finally dessert - rice pudding, a lemon and yogurt delight, and chocolates and sweets for days. 

When everyone had let thier food settle well, what to our wondering eyes should appear but Olentzero!  Joseba's mom, Maixus, had left the table a few minutes before and had come back all dressed up as the coal man himself.  She walked in with her shirt stuffed with a pillow which gave her the the slow swaying belly walk that Olentzero sports and over her shoulder she carried a sack, just like the gift giver.  One thing a bit off and not so normal that this Olentzero had however was a fluffy white beard.  Olentzero here normally has a bit of stubble and a dirty coal-stained face, but he announced that earlier that afternoon he had spoken with Santa Claus and he was supposed to wish me a personal 'Merry Christmas' from him.  It seems that along with that message, Santa gave Olentzero his beard too - to make me feel more like Christmas :)

He doled our his presents and then after taking the massive pillow out of his gut joined us for a drink, like Olentzero would surely do!  My first Basque Olentzero Christmas was defintiley one to remember.  Be it the USA or Basque Country, it's amazing to see how specials moms around the globe make Christmas Day.

Zorionak eta Urte Berri On! (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)