EuskoSare > Blogak > Baigura and beyond
2009-12-29 12:58
Baigura and beyond
Philippe Acheritogaray is one of the congressional delegates representing the United States at the IV World Congress of Basque Communities. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Philippe Acheritogaray will be providing daily chronicles of the World Congress through EuskoSare. In addition, Philippe shares his daily experiences while visiting Euskal Herria.
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007 – Ortzaize, Baxenabarre.
2007-07-25 22:30

My uncle Jean-Baptiste Acheritogaray and his wife Isabelle and my cousin Elsa, spent the weekend in Barberanborda with us. On my last day in the Basque Country, we had a family lunch together at the local restaurant/hotel in Ortzaize, Mendi-Alde, and then traveled to Itsasu, to visit with a cousin, Ida Bordato. The day ended with a family dinner at Barberanborda.

This concludes my blog – Baigura and beyond – Adio – Philippe.

Pictured: The Acheritogaray clan at lunch at Mendi-Alde in Ortzaize.

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Saturday, July 21st, 2007 – Baiona, Lapurdi & Donibane Garazi, Baxenabarre.
2007-07-25 21:58

Today my cousin Argitxu Acheritogaray and I visited the “Batekmila – Euskal Munduak”(The Worlds of the Basques) exposition in Baiona, Lapurdi. This multimedia exposition explores Basque culture throughout the world, and was created by the Basque Cultural Institute based in Uztaritze, Lapurdi. The exposition has four main sections. The first is a video, whose content varies as you walk or move in front of the large screen. The next section has six stations with small screens and headphones and displays a certain domain of Basque culture, such as Basque Dance, Bertsolaritza (improvised poetry), Basque Poetry (Kirmen Uribes’s Kukuak poem). All content is in Basque and most has English subtitles. The next section is a series of 7 cubes, each fitted with a touch screen, and each cube having several videos of varying length illustrating the theme of that cube.

This exhibit will be in Baiona thru September 9th and will be moving to Bilbo after that. For more details, please check

Later in the day we visited Donibane Garazi to meet up with Henry Ocafrain, who moved to the Basque Country with his parents three years ago.

Pictured: The Batekmila exposition in Baiona.

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Friday, July 20th, 2007 – Baiona & Uztaritze - Lapurdi.
2007-07-25 21:23

Today I spent the morning in Baiona to do some souvenir shopping and came across this cool store that my brother had told me about, “4+3 – Les 7 Provinces du Pays Basque”, located near St. Mary’s cathedral at 71, rue d’Espagne. You can check out the interesting t-shirt designs that Bertrand Barbaste has to offer at his shop at

In the afternoon, my cousin Manu Millox-Acheritogaray picked me up to visit my great aunt Sister Marie Etchecopar, who is a retired nun living at a retirement facility in Uztaritze. We had a great visit and I was happy to see that my great aunt was in very good spirits and even gave us a tour of the entire facility.

We then went to visit our cousin in Iholdi, David Acheritogaray, who just became a father a few weeks earlier.

Pictured: From left to right: David Acheritogaray, Maialen, new born Elena Acheritogaray, Manu Millox-Acheritogaray and Philippe Acheritogaray

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Thursday, July 19th, 2007 – Hernani & Donostia - Gipuzkoa.
2007-07-23 17:09

On our way to Donostia, we stopped in neighboring Hernani, to visit the offices of Behatokia (, which is an organization whose purpose is to collaborate with other groups and institutions to work in the defense of human rights and to expose violations of these rights, both in the Basque Country and abroad. I met with Edurne Iriondo, who is an attorney and has been working at Behatokia since 2006. I asked her to tell me about some of the issues that Behatokia was currently working on. For more information on these issues please check the above Behatokia website or

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Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 – A taste of Xiberoa with Argitxu and Francois Camus.
2007-07-22 01:11

Today my brother Robert and I met up with Argitxu Camus Etchecopar and her parents to get a little tour of Xiberoa. Argitxu attended the World Congress of Basque Communities last week and presented her latest book in the Urazandi collection on the history of the North American Basque Organization ( ). Argitxu will be giving a presentation on this and her other Urazandi volume on the history of the Paris Basque Club for the BEO’s October 6th “Urazandi Eguna” event ( ). We met Argitxu at her home, Harrielgia, which is located in the village of Onizepe, just south of the provincial capital of Xiberoa, Maule. We started by walking around Onizepe and checking out their church, Saint Mary’s, which has the typical Xiberoan architecture of three gables of different heights, which pays homage to the crucifixion and to the trinity.

Argitxu’s father, Francois Camus, took us to Barkoxe, which is the birthplace of the famous Xiberoan Poet, Pierre Topet Etxahun. We then drove up to the summit of La Madaleine, from which you can see the entire valley of “Le Saison” and the villages that border the river by the same name. You also have great views of the Bearn region to the east and the Pyrenees to the south.

We descended to the town of Atharratze (Tardets), where I ran into my cousin Chantal. After taking a break at a local café, we traveled to the village of Larraine, which is located at the foot of the peak of Orhi and whose neighborhoods have poetic names such as “Ekhi Begia” (The eye of the sun), “Itzal Herria” (The shaded village). The center of the village surrounds a handball court and St. Jean-Baptiste Church, which is a registered historical landmark, and is on the pilgrim trail to Saint Jacques Compostelle.

We then headed back to Onizepe, stopping at the home of my cousin Shantal’s in Zalgize-Doneztebe.

Pictured: Harrielgia, the home of Argitxu Camus in the village of Onizepe.
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Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 – Hazparne – LAPURDI & Xareta LAPURDI & NAFARROA.
2007-07-19 00:12

Today I visited the offices of Heurocom, located in Hazparne, Lapurdi. Heurocom specializes in technical design and implementation of Basque exhibits. The company was founded 5 years ago by my cousin Panpi Acheritogaray and his daughter and son have been working there for the past few years. Heurocom’s core activity is the design and installation of automated lighting systems for the many Basque caves and caverns that are open to the public, such as the ones in Sare, Onati and Lekunberri. Panpi designed software to automatically run tours that turn on lights to the next area of the caves to visit and playing audio to explain what the visitor is looking at. These audio and lighting systems are centrally controlled by a singe PC. Another interesting project that Heurocom has just rolled out is a 25 minute historical video of the Xareta region of Lapurdi and Naffarroa that comprises the four villages of Sara & Ainhoa in Lapurdi and Zugarramurdi and Urdazubi in Nafarroa. The video is displayed on a huge 10 meter panoramic screen, and is currently being shown at the town hall in Ainhoa. Heurocom also develops websites.

My cousin Argitxu gave us a tour of Xareta and we watched the video in Aihnoa. Over the centuries the inhabitants of these four villages have maintained a very close relationship, and a wealth of evidence dating from prehistoric to our modern era attests to the fact that the border is not, and never has been an obstacle to cooperation and collaboration.

Pictured: My nephew Andoni in Ainhoa, Lapurdi.

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Monday, July 16th, 2007 – Baiona, Angelu – LAPURDI
2007-07-18 19:32

Today I visited the offices of Eusko Ikaskuntza, which is a private scientific - cultural entity, founded in 1918 by the Statutory Diputations of Alava, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Nafarroa, as a stable and permanent instrument for the development of Basque culture. The offices are located right on the quay at 51 quai Jareguiberry in Baiona. Benoit Etcheverry of EuskoSare works out of this office as well and gave me a tour of the office, which is open to the public and has many reference books that you can view onsite.

We had lunch together in the nearby Bar du Marche restaurant, where I met local artist Erwin Dazelle, who hopes to show his art in the San Francisco Bay Area, sometime in the near future.

After lunch my brother’s family and I visited my great-aunt, Sister Marie-Jeanne Etchecopar, who is a retired nun and resides in Angelu, at Notre Dames du Refuge ( ). She along with four other of my maternal grandfather’s sisters had become nuns. Along with caring for retired nuns, Notre Dame du Refuge also houses and supports handicapped adults and children 2 months to 15 years of age, and operates two schools.

Pictured: Benoit Etcheverry at his desk in the offices of Eusko Ikaskuntza in Baiona.

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Sunday, July 15th, 2007 – Hiriburu – LAPURDI
2007-07-17 06:37

For the past couple of days, I’ve been staying with my aunt Joan and uncle Michel at their home in Hiriburu. Before my brother and his family moved to the Basque Country I would always stay with my aunt while visiting here. Sunday we all got together here for a family lunch. My brother Robert is following in the footsteps of my aunt Joan, who also married a Basque native, lived in San Francisco for the first 11 years of their marriage and then moved back to the Basque Country.

Pictured: Philippe with his cousins and brother. From left to right standing: Edouard Martinez, Danny Martinez, Philippe Acheritogaray, Yvette Martinez, Pierrette Martinez. Kneeling, Robert Acheritogaray.

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Saturday, July 14th, 2007 – Urketa, Hiriburu – LAPURDI
2007-07-17 06:31

On Saturday, I attended a luncheon with my brother’s family, which was hosted by Benoit Etcheverry and his wife, at his home in Urketa. At the luncheon I had the opportunity to meet Anne Etchegoyen & Xavier Marcos.

Anne Etchegoyen is a young singer from Donapaleu, Baxenabarre, who sings traditional and contemporary songs in Basque, French and Castilian, with classical arrangements. When she performs she is usually accompanied by a guitarist, violinist and pianist. Anne had visited Argentina this past May to perform in several cities there, and will be coming to California later this fall to perform in Chino and San Francisco. In San Francisco, Anne will do a concert, singing mostly in Basque, in the evening of the Basque Educational Organization’s “Urazandi Eguna” event ( Basque Immigration ) . Anne mentioned that she is currently working on her new CD, which will be released right before she comes to California.

Xavier Marcos was the producer/brainchild behind the CD Egon, which is a ground breaking CD, which mixes traditional Basque songs and music with contemporary beats and rhythms, while sprinkling in the sounds of traditional Basque instruments, like the txalaparta, alboka & xirula. Xavier told me about the tough time he had producing this work, which was supposed to be released in 2004, but was delayed by nearly 2 years because of a Sony & BMG merger and then by the arrest of Peio Serbielle, who contributed lyrics and sung on the CD. Despite the difficulties Xavier experienced, he’s thinking of created a sequel to Egon, and to create a live show that would mix film and live performers. Xavier is also investigating avenues that will allow Egon to be purchased outside of Europe. ( ).

Pictured: From left to right: Xavier Marcos, Philippe Barennes (guitarist for Anne), Anne Etchegoyen, Philippe Acheritogaray.

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Friday, July 13th, 2007 – Bilbo, Bizkaia & Gasteiz, Araba.World Congress Day Five – Closing.
2007-07-15 04:18

Today the congress met to decide on a proposal submitted by Peru and to elect the three representatives of the Diaspora, who will meet with the Basque Government on a tri-annual basis.

The proposal by Peru was a five point statement about the current peace initiative in the Basque country, support for the Lehendakari, and support for human rights. The congressional delegates gave their opinions on this proposal with some of the delegates explaining that their Basque club statutes stated that they could not vote on a proposal that they interpret as being “political.” Other delegates supported the proposal, but since a consensus could not be reached the proposal was not approved.

Nominations were then taken from the floor for the three representatives of the Diaspora, and the following three were elected for the following four years: Xabier Berrueta (USA), Jon Zavalla & Carlos Sosa (Argentina).

The congress then formally closed with an address by Iñaki Aguirre, the director for foreign action. The congress was then bused to the capital of Gasteiz, Araba for an afternoon reception with the Lehendakari (Basque President).

When we arrived in Gasteiz we parked in front of the Lehendakaritza building (Basque Government offices) and walked across the street to Ajuria Enea (Basque White House). We were all greeted by the Lehendakari, Juan Jose Ibarretxe and his wife Begoña Arregui, after which the Lehendakari addressed the congress. Formal group pictures were then taken with the Lehendakari and his wife with each country. At the reception afterwards on the grounds of Ajuria Enea, we were treated to the voices of the Basque choir Odeihertz from Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, and were able to say our goodbyes to the new friends we made during the week and to our old friends as well.

Pictured: The US group pictured with the Lehendakari.

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Thursday, July 12th, 2007 – Bilbo, Bizkaia: World Congress Day Four
2007-07-13 08:05

Today the congress started with a presentation by Minister of Culture and Spokesperson for the Basque Government, Miren Azkarate. The main portion of Miren’s presentation was the description of the new Etxepare Institute that the Basque Government will use to consolidate its initiatives regarding Basque language and culture. Miren also mentioned that a new Basque National Library will be created in an old tobacco factory in Donostia and that a National Historical Archive will be established in Bilbo along with a Spanish Civil War Archive.

Most of the rest of the day was spent commenting and debating the four year plan that had been presented to the delegates ( ). The congress went thru the documents in sections and the Basque Government moderator, Nieves Martinez de Antoñana made notes of the comments and suggestions.

A couple of interesting proposals popped up after the four year plan review was completed. One called for the local soccer team of Bilbao Athletic to accept player born outside of the Basque Country, but of Basque descent. Currently all players for this club must have been born in one of the seven Basque provinces. The congress approved this proposal. The second proposal was a statement of Peace for the Basque Country, that was discussed and tabled for tomorrow.

After the congressional meeting, I met with Loren Arkotza, who is the President of Udalbiltza ( ). One of the projects that Udalbiltza is working on the is distribution of Basque Nationality ID cards, which were just made available to Basques in the U.S. ( ).

We didn’t have an outing scheduled before dinner so I took a brief stroll down along the Bilbao River to the Guggenheim and noticed a bunch of Basque Police and secret service persons in the hotel lobby and outside. When I asked what was going on I was told that former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was spending the night in our hotel! Good grief!

Pictured: Jacqueline Lanathoua-Gaton, the only US participant inGaztemundu, makes a point during the discussion on the future of the Gaztemundu program.

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Philippe Acheritogaray
Corte Madera, Amerikako Estatu Batuak.
Photos from Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Hernani & Donostia - Gipuzkoa.

Photos from July 18, 2007

A taste of Xiberoa with Argitxu and Francois Camus.

Photos from July 17, 2007


Photos from Monday, July 16th, 2007

Baiona, Angelu – LAPURDI. My visit to Eusko Ikaskuntza in Baiona and Notre Dames du Refuge.

Photos from World Congress Day Five

Friday, July 13th, 2007 – Bilbo, Bizkaia & Gasteiz, Araba.World Congress Day Five – Closing.

Photos from Sunday, July 8th, 2007 – Bidarrai, Baxenabarre

Frederic Fuldain Omenaldia. The village of Bidarrai paid homage to one of her son’s who immigrated to San Francisco and made remarkable contributions towards Basque Culture

Photos: Saturday, July 7th, 2007 – Ezpeleta, Lapurdi.

Course des Crêtes - the cross country race held in Ezpeleta.