E is for EUSKAL HERRIA
The Basque Country (Basque: Euskal Herria) is the home of the Basque people in the western Pyrenees spanning the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast
Dear Basque homeland,
Why are you so misunderstood? By force or politics, some have fought to defend you, others tried to conquer you. Some have tried to ban the Basque language, others tried to ban the use of Spanish. Some say you’re from here, while others claim you’re from there. Some consider you as purely Spanish, others exclusively French, and others still see you only as Basque.
The one thing nobody doubts is your true natural beauty. Mountain ranges, coastlines and beaches; Countryside with farmhouses, cows and other livestock. The sea with its harbours, fishermen, anchovies and other catch. Beaches with sun tanners, walkers and surfers. Life everywhere.
Back in the day, after Occy had made his comeback with the power of an Akerbeltz (the black he-Goat worshipped in Basque mythology), he gave a memorable speech to the European surf industry. With the Irons brothers in the room, a handful of CEOs and world champions, he blurted out in classic Occy fashion that his Basque brothers knew what surfing was all about, they understood it, but that other Europeans just didn’t have a clue. It was a heated night. Sunny was there, nodding in accord. For that which concerns the others, I wouldn’t actually know, but I can vouch for the Basque bit.
Borja Agote, Donosti
The quantity of Basque pro surfers in 2012 is alarming. The size of our surf industry remains a tiny fraction of most, and on a national level little initiative has been taken. So what has the Basque Country actually achieved? To be itself. It’s own self. And in doing so it’s gaining momentum again, with true talent in the form of 11-year-old kids or younger, the best surf brands, creative entrepreneurs, festivals and an ever-growing presence of influential surfers, with San Sebastian at the head, Zarautz still close behind and Bilbao with a lot on offer too.
Eneko opened up the competitive circuit on the WQS, Aritz represented the Basque Country on the World Tour for two years, and Ibon was the first European to be invited to the Eddie Aikau. Something tells me that the best is yet to come, that the Basque Country has a long way to go still and that nobody really understands what the Basque Country is about, even those who claim they do.
- Adur Letamendia
The Basques spent 200 million Euros of EU public money to pay a Canadian architect to build a monument to his 'almost limitless self-regard' out of Australian titanium... Photos: Pacotwo/WE