Archive for the ‘Mondragon’

A Basque Christmas

December 26, 2011 By: erik Category: Mondragon, Offspring, Partying, Photos, Spain, Videos

Olentzero - A Basque ChristmasWe spent Christmas in Mondragón, in the Basque Country, this year like we have every year for a while now. This year was a little more somber than most because of the recent death of the family patriarch, but I think we did a pretty good job of being respectful but not wallowing in our sorrow too much. The best part was catching a glimpse of the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of my two year old daughter.

A Basque Chrismas with Olentzero

December 30, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Offspring, Partying, Photos

Opening presents is the best!On Christmas Eve night in the Basque Country, the homes of little children are visited by an enormous, soot-stained, Basque gentleman in a beret who drops off presents. His name is Olentzero. The history of this tradition and its variations is quite fascinating. In fact, when people give gifts on Christmas, there is much less emphasis (than in my culture) on who the gift is from. It’s just, “Here’s your Olentzero”, where the name also is slang for the gift itself. Surprising no one, Nora was the biggest recipient of gifts from the big burly Basque this year.

Meeting Cousin Chloé

September 22, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Photos

Cousins Holding HandsOn Sunday, we were in Mondragon to meet Nora’s cousin Chloé for the first time. Chloé is the same relationship depth to Nora as Cousin Rodrigo. Chloé is Nora’s mother’s mother’s brother’s son’s daughter. Marga and Chloé’s father, Andoni, are first cousins. We went to Chloé’s parents’ wedding just over a year ago. Chloé’s mother is French, so she will be growing up in a bilingual household like Nora.

Baptism Menu

May 13, 2009 By: erik Category: Mondragon, News, Partying, Religion, Spain

Merluza con gulasMy parents and grandmother are leaving home today to come visit us. They will arrive tomorrow evening and meet their granddaughter (and great granddaughter) for the first time. They bought their tickets on March 23, four hours before Marga went into labor. Needless to say, they (and we!) are pretty excited about their trip. Seeing a baby via video conference and actually holding a baby are two completely different things.

Basque Signature Extortion

March 10, 2009 By: erik Category: Complaining, Mondragon, Scary, Spain

A couple days ago, in the Basque valley town of Mondragón, where my in-laws live, some notices were posted on the entrances to all residential buildings. It read more or less the following:

Over the next two months, we will be going house by house collecting signatures for a petition to the mayor’s office to release prisoners that are either gravely ill or that have already served their time.

Seems like a good cause, doesn’t it? Well…

Eight Years Ago

January 20, 2009 By: erik Category: Mondragon, Musings, Photos, Travel

Passport Stamp - Gatwick - 21 Jan 2001Eight years ago today, I was in my apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, packing my suitcase, preparing for a trip to Europe. I can very vividly remember every detail of my living room and television as I watched the inauguration of George W. Bush, whose “election” was decided by nine justices of The Supreme Court. It was cold and raining outside and also in Washington, D.C. Later that evening, I boarded a flight to Dublin, with a layover at London Gatwick. The airport security was, of course, no more or less of a sham than it is today, but it was much less intrusive of a sham. After working for a couple days in Dublin, getting very sick from some food poisoning, and spending the rest of the week curled up in a hotel room, I flew to Madrid, entering Spain for the first time. From Madrid, I somehow managed to take a train north to Vitoria, where a girl I’d met a little over a year before stood with her father waiting to show me her home town and introduce me to her family. The world I was entering was so incredibly different from anything I knew. Such was the first visit I had with my future in-laws.

New Years Eve

January 05, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Partying, Photos, Spain, Videos

Champagne with Wedding RingMarga’s family alternates getting everyone together on Christmas or New Years Eve; this year the big family dinner was on New Years Eve. Remember these beauties? We ate one on New Years Eve. You may note a particularly turkey-heavy theme to this post. I was a little worried that I might have to witness the slaughter (and be forced to make a Sarah Palin interview parody video), but I didn’t.

Christmas 2008

December 28, 2008 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Partying, Spain

GildasWe had a very intimate Christmas celebration this year, in which small children were saliently absent. It was just Marga, her sister, grandfather, mother and father, and me for Christmas Eve dinner (the most important meal), and then her Aunt Marga and sons joined us for Christmas lunch. As usual, there were so many appetizers that I had to turn down the main dish.

Turkey Break

November 21, 2008 By: erik Category: Food, Mondragon, News, Photos

Turkey CloseupIt’s been seven years since I spent Thanksgiving with my family, and Marga has never partaken of the celebratory feast beyond my littletraditions of eating turkey on the day. This year, I’m looking forward to showing her what Thanksgiving means in my mind: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie at my grandmother’s house. My mouth is watering already!

This past weekend, we visited my in-laws and I got to see how my father-in-law’s turkeys are doing. They were quite small a month ago, but now they are huge! I don’t spend much time around poultry, but these were the most friendly fowl I’ve ever been around. I never actually touched one, but they didn’t actively avoid me like the chickens do. And they were fascinated, as they should be, by my iPhone. (more…)

Actual Birthday Lunch

October 15, 2008 By: erik Category: Family, Food, Mondragon, Partying, Photos, Spain

Cutting JamónSince we celebrated my birthday a day early with a big family lunch on Saturday, on Sunday, we had a lower key lunch out with more intimate family members. What was cool was that, while watching the national military parade in Madrid, I used my iPhone to find us a restaurant. No one knew the names of the restaurants, just generally where they were. So I zoomed in on a nearby town, Udala, and searched for restaurant. Two appeared on my map and I tapped on them and a second later was talking to them on the phone making reservations. That was the first time I’ve done something like that with my iPhone. Awesome.