Basque Fact of the Week: The Basque Fox, the Last French Corsair

Étienne Pellot Aspikoeta (1765-1856), known as the Basque Fox (le Renard Basque in French), was the last known French corsair. He was imprisoned at least twice by the British, though much of his later activity was centered off the coast of Galicia. He was born and died in Hendaia.

Image from the Auñamendi Encyclopedia.

Basque Fact of the Week: The Song of Roland is Really about the Basques

The Song of Roland, one of the oldest major works in French, describes how Charlemagne’s nephew, Roland, takes the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army back through the pass of Roncevaux, where they are ambushed and slaughtered by the Muslims. In reality, it was the Basques that attacked Roland.

Image from Wikipedia.
  • While The Song of Roland was written between 1040 and 1115, the Battle of Roncevaux, or Orreaga in Basque, Pass occurred in 778.
  • The Basques attacked in retaliation for the prior destruction of the walls of Pamplona. Some accounts say that the whole city was destroyed.
  • The Basque force was essentially a guerrilla army. “A typical Basque mountain warrior was armed with two short spears and a knife or short sword as his main weapons, and bows or javelins for missile weapons. He would not normally wear armour.” (from Wikipedia)

Job Opportunity with Hitza Hitz

Benoit Etcheverry, creator of the 8 Probintziak radio program and now Export Manager at Hitza Hitz, sent me an email announcing they are looking for a Commercial Agent or Distributor in the USA. In particular:

HITZA HITZ is looking for a commercial agent or distributor in the USA

HITZA HITZ is the « given word » of the Basques, a motto, a code of honour. And it is the name of a brand of ready-to-wear apparel inspired by the Basque country. It’s also the first Jeans Brand from the Basque Country.

It is appropriate for women and men, for Basques and their friends, the locals, the visitors, from those who love the mountains to those who prefer the ocean.

What do we offer?
An attractive commission on the sales


  • Represent and be the face of the Storefront to all our clients and brands
  • Manage key, significant projects
  • Qualify clients’ specific needs and suggest the best spaces for these needs
  • Monitor the ongoing communication and deals in your portfolio
  • Lead deals toward success; be a deal closer and never let a customer be unsatisfied
  • Help develop our customer acquisition strategy
  • Active outbound prospecting through cold calling, created campaigns, and events
  • Target specific and strategic brands
  • Provide education to your prospective clients to lead them on the platform


  • Have experience in Sales or Account management
  • Interest in the Retail and Fashion industry
  • Possess excellent communication skills
  • Result-oriented and a valuable team player
  • Tech-oriented person
  • Quick thinker; you thrive in a fast-paced and challenging environment
  • Organizational skills are a strength
  • Relevant graduate degree
  • Must be in USA Full-time
  • Experience in managing high-frequency pipeline is a plus
  • Knowing the Basque culture is a plus


  • Have the opportunity to directly shape the company’s strategic direction
  • Work in a fun, collaborative, and stimulating environment (We’re looking for your personality as well!)
  • An insanely supportive, hardworking team, building something truly transformative

What to Expect Next

  • Interview with our Chief Business Development Officer and Export Responsable.
  • You’ll also meet a few of our other teammates and business leaders!

Interested? Send your resume to :

Basque Fact of the Week: On January 20, Donostia Celebrates my Birthday… I mean, La Tamborrada

La Tamborrada is a 24-hour festival taking place every January 20, the feast day of the city’s patron Saint Sebastian, in Donostia. Over 100 different bands dressed as soldiers and cooks march through the city throughout the 24 hours of the day, starting at midnight.

The gathering in the Plaza de la Constitución, image from here.

Goian Bego, Egoitz

My cousin, Egoitz Uberuaga Aranburu, died yesterday, January 13, on his birthday. He had just turned 33.

Egoitz, with his sister and a few cousins, wrestling on the grounds of the family basseri.

Like with most of my dad’s family, I didn’t get to know Egoitz until my first visit to Euskal Herria, back in 1991, when I went to Donostia to study Basque. Egoitz was only 6 years old back then. I remember how, at a big family dinner at the family basseri, surrounding a table in the foyer just in front of the doors leading to the barn where the animals were kept, Egoitz and his sister, Eneritz, with some cajoling from their parents, pulled out their trikitixa and tambourine and played for their American cousin.

Egoitz grew into an amazing young man. He had a giant heart, always full of life. He was often the center of attention because of his outsized presence in the room. He was full of a restless energy; his Facebook page was full of photos from his travels all over the world. His work was to help others less fortunate than himself.

Egoitz, my daughter, my wife Lisa, my friend Gontzal, and me, in the Parte Vieja of Donostia, March 2018. Photo courtesy of Lisa.

He always went out of his way to make time to see me when I visited. During our last visit to the Basque Country, he joined us during a day trip to Donostia, hitting the pintxos bars and sharing a few drinks during a break in classes. His smile was infectious, just as it had been when he was 6.

As I watch his Facebook feed, it was obvious how many lives he touched. He had spent the night before his birthday with his sister at a Gatibu concert and people were wishing him Happy Birthday. It was especially heartbreaking watching his friends post “Zorionak”, not knowing he had left us only hours before.

They always say that life is wasted on the young. Egoitz is one of those that took life by the horns and lived it his way. He filled his all-too-short life with more than most of us that live twice as long ever experience. He lived life to the edge and made the most of the time he had. He was truly an inspiration.

The words on his obituary sum up his spirit better than I ever could:

Mila esker bizitza politagoa egitea gatik,
beti eskuzabal, beti irribarretsu,
beti dana emateko prest,
txori alai, beti libre, beti aske, beti pozik.

Thank you for making life nicer,
always generous, always smiling,
always ready to give,
sweet bird, always free, always independent, always happy.

Translation by me, with an assist from Google Translate.

Goian bego, Egoitz. You will always be in my heart. The Basque Country won’t be the same without you.

Basque Fact of the Week: Arizona may be a Basque Word

Donald T. Garate, an interpreter and historian for the National Park Service, found evidence that the name Arizona may be of Basque origin. According to his research, Arizona was originally a rancheria or village established by Bernardo de Urrea sometime between 1734 and 1736. When silver was discovered nearby, the name Arizona became much more noteworthy.

Image from the Daily Courier.
  • Arizona, as a Basque word, would mean “good oak.”
  • The theory that Arizona was of Basque origin was originally proposed in 1979 by William Douglass, founder of what is now the Center for Basque Studies.
  • The alternate theory is that Arizona comes from a Native American language, O’odham, phrase al? ?onak, meaning “small spring.”
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