The End of a Hella Basque Era

Dear Readers,

It’s been six months since I last posted on Hella Basque.

So this hopefully will come as no surprise to you when I say I’m done. For the foreseeable future, I will no longer be updating Hella Basque.

I made this decision months ago and wanted to tell you sooner, but my friends and family have been trying to convince me not to. I’ve been considering their perspectives, because I appreciate that so many people love this blog. I love it too.

But if you’ve been following this blog, you know I also love traveling. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, and I’m not slowing down any time soon.

As such, my life is going in a decidedly very non-Basque direction.

I’ve taken hiatuses from writing on Hella Basque before, so why is this time different?

This time I’m hitting the road for real.

St. Jean de Luz

For spring and summer 2016, I landed a job as a trip leader for a large tour operator in Europe. I’ll be spending the next few months living a nomadic life, traveling all around Europe, working for weeks at a time without a break. Then once the tourist season is over, I intend to settle in London.

That means no time for Basque American picnics or events. That means leaving my community behind for a while. That means not much Basque stuff for me to write about.

It’s been an exciting and interesting two years with Hella Basque. I’ve gotten more involved in this wonderful Basque American community of ours and learned from young people in the Basque Country their insightful perspectives about what it means to be Basque.

I’ve met some amazing people and had some powerful discussions with people online about identity, nationhood, family, and community.

And let’s not forget that I’ve loved sharing stories about my Aita with you, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Aita Throwback Thursday

Here’s one last cute picture of Aita for you

I am forever changed by the interactions and community that grew out of this website.

So I think it’s best to leave Hella Basque as it is. I will be keeping the Hella Basque domain name and leaving the site up for you to peruse whenever you want. You can go back and read the old posts and comment threads.

This just marks the end of any new content from me.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane with me, here are the blog posts that garnered the most traffic in Hella Basque history:

Thank you for your ongoing support of this creative project.

Thank you all for liking or sharing a Hella Basque post on social media, commenting, guest posting, reaching out to me for interviews, and/or spreading the word about this little website.

I appreciate all of the support the Basque American community has given me over the years.

While the Hella Basque blog will stay as it is, this doesn’t mean I’m disappearing from the Internet forever. I’m not ruling out the idea of resuming this blog when I move back home and get active in the Basque American community again. And I might start other online projects. If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

In the meantime, I’ll still be active on social media if you want to stay in touch. I will be keeping the Hella Basque Facebook Page up with the intention of posting more there. You can follow my life and travels on Instagram @hellabasque, and you can still email me at

If you need a fix of Basque America in your online reading, I will always recommend that you follow Henar Chico’s blog on eitb, A Basque in Boise.

I hope this Hella Basque blog has been a source of pride for the Basque American community. At the very least, I hope it has given you something to talk about at picnics.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

Yours truly,
Anne Marie Chiramberro

Anne Marie Chiramberro

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Real Talk: Why I’m the Mutzurdina Black Sheep of the Family

I’m in Aita’s bad books again.

Remember the last few times he lectured me for getting my face pierced? Take those speeches and multiply their severity by a million.

That’s the kind of reaction I got last week when I told Aita I was going back to Africa.

If you’ll remember, I spent a month in Africa this summer. It was an amazing experience and I wasn’t at all ready to come home.

“All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.” – Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa


Karen Blixen wrote that safari life makes you “feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” And that abundance and gratitude is what I felt. Something I rarely experience at home, being so caught up in work and school and blog.


I came home out of a sense of responsibility to my family, but now I’m going back next month. I love my family, and I think anyone who reads this blog knows I love my little Aita like crazy.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we agree on everything.

Aita and I have drastically different views on life and money.

He thinks I should get a high paying job and work it diligently until retirement.

I think I should work a job I enjoy, as is the curse of my generation.

He thinks I should make as much money as possible.

I think I should make as much money as will enable me to do the things I want (live, eat, travel, save for the future).

Since I haven’t yet found a job I’ve enjoyed longer than a couple of years, I want to use my youth to explore different opportunities and seek out experiences that might bring me happiness.

Like hanging out with elephants

Like hanging out with elephants

All of these concepts are super foreign to Aita, and it makes sense: He came to America to work his butt off and make lots of money. He did that. Even during his retirement, he can’t stop working.

I respect what he does, and I admire his tenacity. Half of me wishes I shared his ambition.

But the part of me that’s decided to go back to Africa is perfectly okay with not having a set path.

I’ve spent years trying to prove to Aita that I’m a responsible person, by working, studying, saving, and investing. But when I step one toe out of his vision for my life, he forgets all of my good qualities.

In his lecture, it came out that everything I’ve ever done has been a disappointment to him. The degree I earned wasn’t good enough. The jobs I’ve pursued were never good enough. This was the last straw for him.

It’s all a bit much. I’m tired of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations and the high hopes Aita has for me.

I’m twenty-five now. I’m the dreaded mutzurdina. So I’m going to do what feels right to me.



I’m going back to Africa because I love traveling, encountering different cultures, and meeting new people.

Not because I’m lazy and have an aversion to work. Not because I fear responsibilities. Not because I have Peter Pan Syndrome.

I’m going back to Africa to live in the moment and enjoy being happy for a change.

“I never knew of a morning in Africa where I woke up and was not happy.”                                  – Ernest Hemingway


[Let’s ignore the fact that Hemingway found happiness in Africa by killing lots of adorable animals…]

I can only hope that Aita will accept me one day.

Not for his idea of me, but for who I actually am.

Aita, your daughter is a gross girl who lets giraffes lick her face. Sorry, not sorry.

Aita, I regret to inform you that your daughter is a gross girl who lets giraffes lick her face.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not the first person to live by different values than her parents, and I won’t be the last.

I’m sure Aita himself broke his mom’s heart when he resolved to move to America.

Everyone is bound to disappoint their parents at some point, especially when clashes in generations and cultures are at play.

Even still, it saddens me that my decisions and actions cause Aita so much pain.

I wish we wouldn’t have to go through this awkward period whenever I do something he disapproves of, but as things stand right now I’m not welcome in Aita’s house. I don’t expect to be until I get back from Africa and maybe he will have missed me enough to talk to me again.

In the meantime, if you see Aita at a Basque event, will you remind him I’m a good person? That my love of travel isn’t the end of the world? That some people actually think what I’m doing is great?

Maybe he’ll listen to you.

Any words of encouragement from you wonderful readers would be much appreciated.

Have you ever done something that pissed off your Basque parents? How did the situation get resolved?

Give me hope in the comments that this will all blow over.

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Jaialdi: Interview with Gazteaukera

While I was in Boise for Jaialdi last month, a couple of bloggers from the Basque Country tracked me down. They had won a contest run by the Basque Government that gave them an all expenses paid trip to Idaho for the festivities. Impressive!

I gave this quick, impromptu interview with them outside the dance on Saturday night. If you read Spanish or Basque and are curious to check it out, go visit the Gazteaukera Blog.

Read the Spanish version here or the Euskara version here.

What you won’t read in the interview is how beautiful the eyes of the man who interviewed me were. I was totally distracted by them. There’s the behind-the-scenes scoop for you!

Seriously, I don’t remember what I said to him. Just those eyes. <3

Aita would have approved.

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Jaialdi: How I Wish More People Would Step In to Stop Violence Against Women

Saturday night of Jaialdi, after everyone got kicked out of Leku Ona at closing time, quite a few people were left hanging out on the Basque Block. Nothing was open, but we all stood around talking. I ran into people I hadn’t seen since my first day in Boise. It was a nice time.

But that was all broken when some of us decided to walk the few blocks downtown to grab pizza.

Pie Hole Boise

At 2:30 AM, it was as if every person who was out in downtown Boise was hanging around this pizza place. And shit got violent real fast.

As we sat on the terrace outside the place eating our pizza, a few guys started pushing each other around. Their friends broke it up, so I thought we were good.

By the time I got to my second slice, two guys had pushed a scrawny guy into a bike rack and were pounding into him.

I don’t particularly enjoy violence so I didn’t watch, and it was over pretty quickly. Dudes ran away, shoes were lost.

I was a little scared to move from our perch and the relative safety of being off the sidewalk in case the dudes came back and we got caught in the middle of something, but my sister decided it was a good time to go.

Not wanting to get left behind again, I shuffled off with our group down the street. Shaking my head at these idiots.

How was it that the Basques a few blocks away were having a great, friendly time hanging outside the bars, while these randoms were so aggressive at closing time? I mentally patted Basques on the back for being civilized drunks.

Just a short two blocks away, we came upon another conflict. This time, a man and a woman. The woman was trying to get away from who I assumed was her boyfriend, trying to get into a taxi, but he wouldn’t let her. He kept grabbing her, pulling her back, and getting in her face.

Now, I look the other way when a few drunk dudes are getting in each other’s faces. Unless someone’s getting beaten senseless, I don’t see it as my business to get involved.

Maybe that’s not the right attitude to have, but growing up in the U.S. has gotten me used to seeing macho douches being aggressive, both in real life and all over the media.

What I CANNOT TOLERATE is women being victimized. As a trained domestic violence counselor, I know abuse when I see it. I feel it’s my moral duty to call the cops, since so much violence against women goes unreported and unpunished.

So that’s exactly what I did. I stood a safe distance away and called 911 to report the incident. If that’s how this guy treats his girlfriend in the street, what terrible things is he capable of doing to her at home?


National Domestic Violence Hotline

While on the phone with the 911 operator, the abuser slapped a taxi driver around when he tried to intervene on the woman’s behalf. Luckily a few stand-up guys were around and successfully restrained the abuser.

The woman got in the cab and drove off, while the guys held the abuser down until the cops showed up and put him in handcuffs.

I didn’t hang around to see what happened or talk to the cops. There were plenty of other eyewitnesses involved to give a better account of what had happened, and it was nearly 3:30 AM at that point. I was exhausted.

When I looked around to see what had happened to my crew, I found I was left alone with one guy who was nice enough to hang around and wait for me, make sure I was okay. Everyone else in the group had disappeared.

Once reconnected with the individuals in my group, I found out people’s reasons for leaving me behind. They were pretty typical to how people respond to gender-based violence in society.

I saw the incident and reported it.

Some others saw it and ignored it.

My friend saw it and was so emotionally triggered by it that he had to keep walking.

My sister didn’t see it at all, even though it was right in front of her face.

Whether my reporting the abuse we saw in the street led to any positive outcome for that couple or society, I have no idea. But I felt good that this was an instance in which I could do something about the abuse I encountered.

There are other times, however, when that’s not the case.

Rape and Sexual Assault Infographic

Like the rumor I was hearing all weekend during Jaialdi that a 21-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl had had sex on one of the first nights of the festivities. I don’t personally know the people in question, and I have no way of knowing if that rumor was true.

But it made me sick.

Especially the way people talked about it.

The man’s friend kept referring to the guy as “a wild card.”

“You mean statutory rapist?” I corrected him.

The alleged perpetrator’s friend said he wouldn’t bring the guy to any more Basque events. Kudos to him for wanting to keep this creep away from our community, but where was he when his friend was putting the moves on a 16-year-old? Did no one step in?

And I couldn’t stand the way people talked about it so casually.

People pointed out the girl to me like she was some kind of sideshow attraction. They spread the news like a piece of juicy gossip, acknowledging that it was dirty and wrong.

No one mentioning that it was criminal, punishable by law.

When I hear stuff like that, I wish I could do more to protect the kids at these events. I wish these rumors were easily reportable like calling 911 on a guy harassing his girlfriend in the street.

I wish the people who knew the man and girl involved would do more than spread the gossip.

Maybe they did. I can’t rightly say.

Again, I don’t even know if what I heard was true.

It just makes me sick to think that young people are victimized at Basque American events and nothing is done about it. People talk about it like it’s normal, but don’t get involved.

I urge people to stand up for those most vulnerable in our community and to call people out  for their inappropriate behavior.

The rent-a-cops at events like Jaialdi are more concerned with crowd control and busting underaged drinking than preventing sexual assault. It’s up to us to keep each other safe.

Even though it’s a Homeland Security slogan, I think this is apt for stopping violence against women:

If You See Something Say Something


If you see something messed up, say something.

Teenagers, if an adult is hitting on you or your friends, get out of that situation.

Men, if your friend is hitting on teenagers, get them out of that situation.

And most importantly, men, don’t hit on underaged kids and don’t assault women.

It should really be that simple.

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Jaialdi: Dealing with Rejection

Let me tell you a sad story.

I had a crush on this boy from Basque camp growing up. We would see each other once a year at a Basque picnic or camp, and those meetings always coincided with a dance.

Now believe it or not, I wasn’t the most outgoing or flirtatious teenager. I was more the type to lurk in a corner with my friends and watch my crushes from afar.

Who am I kidding, that’s still my go-to move.

So for years, I would stand across the dance floor from him hoping he would ask me to dance. He was one of the best dancers. All night, I would sit with my friends and talk about how cute he was and hope he would notice me. Or even remember I existed.

dance floor

Unsurprisingly, my technique wasn’t too effective. After every dance, I would go home with my parents at the end of the night just a little disappointed.

He never asked me to dance. He asked lots of my friends to dance, but he would never ask me.

That is, not until I was 23, long past the days when I would sit and pine for him. He only asked me once I didn’t care anymore. Isn’t that always the way?

I was standing with him and some of our mutual friends at the bar during the dance at Gardnerville picnic. The boys were giving him a hard time about something, I don’t remember what. Out of nowhere, he asked me to dance.

I had no desire to dance. Especially with all of the lights on and only three other couples on the dance floor and everyone’s amatxis (not to mention my parents) sitting around watching.

But goddamn it, he’d finally asked me to dance. I owed it to my fifteen-year-old self.

Off for a polka we went. It was everything I’d dreamed of; that guy could really dance.

And you know what he said to me?

“I only asked you to dance so that I could get away from those guys. They’re giving me so much shit.”

Oh, how my little heart sunk! I didn’t even like the guy anymore so I shouldn’t have cared, but the teenager inside me wept a little to hear those words. I felt like the girl in She’s All That when she finds out the hottest guy in school only asked her to prom on a bet.

That sentiment burned me so bad it still gets me a little angry.

So imagine my response when this same young man asked me to dance on the last night of Jaialdi.

I gave him a big ol’ smile, but with a shake of my head and one middle finger in the air, I kept walking.

Bye Felicia


Have any stories of failed romance at Basque events? Would love to read about your heartache in the comments.

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