Tag Archives: comparisons

New North Wales

Its hard not to compare experiences, in fact quite often that’s what helps you categorise new things in your life. For instance last week I decided Spanish tuna in a jar was ok because:

Tuna steak > Jar tuna > Tinned tuna

But when you come to bigger things, maybe its not such a sensible idea. Of course the obvious thing for me to compare my whole gap year year abroad experiences to is my year in Thailand (sorry I will keep going on about that), and something about that makes me feel rather uncomfortable. I am desperate to read my Thailand diaries, but on the other hand I find it quite fortunate that my weight limit wouldn’t allow me to fit anything more than the bare essentials (clothes, research notes, climbing gear, seven pairs of shoes…). I feel as if I would be checking up to see whether I’m doing this the ‘right way’ when really there is none. The ‘right way’ as such is to enjoy myself and hopefully at some point do my research. And spending 90% of the time being utterly confused is all part of the exhilarating adventure and the reason I chose my course.

But there is another comparison I have been coming up with: a useful tool for explaining where abouts in Spain I am without the use of a map (no The Basque Country is not in Cataluña!!)

I am currently living in the Spanish version of Wales. Yes Wales.

Firstly because of the language. Basque is to Castillian Spanish, what Welsh is to English: entirely unintelligible. I will be teaching in a Basque speaking school, which is the same idea of a Spanish person coming to the UK and ending up in a Welsh speaking school in deepest darkest Anglesey. Or somewhere like that. The only difference is that I haven’t found a word as awesome as ‘popdeping’. Yet.

Secondly, the climate. It rained last night and yesterday morning! Which isn’t very much to be honest, but I’ve been lead to believe that I am in the cold and wet area of the country (all the better for my weak ginger skin). This leads to the general look of the place: everywhere I’ve been in Spain before has been something of a dessert. But here! Green mountains, green trees, green grass. I went for a walk yesterday and the only thing to keep me believing that I wasn’t in Wales was the temperature and lack of sheep! Seriously, picture a cloudless sky in Wales and paint the houses white and you’ve got here.

Politically as well, The Basque Country has its own government a bit like Wales does as well as having its own nationalist movement. I’ve got to say I know very little on this subject, but it just means I presume all graffiti I can’t understand is some sort of racist propaganda telling me to go back to where I belong.

Lastly, there is the regional animal. To identify themselves with their home region, many Basques adorn their cars with stickers of this animal (and in one case, rudely positioned stickers) and what else should it be but la oveja: The Sheep. I wish I was joking!

It nicely finishes off the comparison, so therefore I re-christen this land New North Wales.

NB: New South Wales was taken, and we’ll just ignore that the Basque are the oldest civilisation in Europe. Old Wales doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

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