Kaixo! Epa! Yepa!  

The many ways to say hello and the less formal hi in Euskera, the Basque language. Historically categorized as more than five thousand years old,  the oldest language in Europe, it is not known where this language and people originated from but it is theorized to have come from Central Europe. The Basque language, unlike most any other language, is a language isolate, meaning that it has no relations to other to any other languages. In the Basque Country, Euskera is commonly spoken in homes, schools, and businesses. It plays a significant role in people’s everyday lives. I learned this during my first ever Basque language class with Stuart.  

I was excited to learn more Euskera in the Basque language class because many people that have been here in San Sebastián for a while say that if you make an effort to learn a bit of the local language, that they will appreciate the effort and be more welcoming. I saw that happen in the first week we were here. Saying “Kaixo” or “Eskerrik asko” shows the locals that we are here to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn more about it.  

Stuart is from Scotland and he has been studying Basque for about 30 years now. He taught our group how to say basic words and phrases to help us immerse ourselves more in the Basque culture. Simple greeting phrases such as, “Egun on, Zermoduz zaude?” Means “Good morning, how are you?” And one of the many replies could be, “Oso ondo, eskerrik asko” which means “Very well, thank you.” When meeting someone for the first time you could say, “Kaixo! Nola izena duzu?” which means “Hello! What’s your name?” And the reply would be “Ni Jennifer naiz” which translates to, “I Jennifer am.” 

Towards the end of our class Stuart had us practicing having a conversation with a waiter at a restaurant, something that will be very useful to us while we’re here in the Culinary Capital of the world.  

Learning about Basque language

The location where we had our Basque language class was at the Basqueland Brewery in Hernani. Kevin Patricio, the co-founder of the company, led us on a tour of his brewery. He explained to us that before they started the company in 2015, there was very little quality beer in San Sebastián and that was bad because the city of San Sebastián is well known for its culinary genius. They set out to rectify that situation and even taught the locals about different types of beers and how they could make it better. On the brewery tour, Kevin explained the process his company goes through to make the end product beer. He said that the in the tanks, it “farts CO2 and shits alcohol” which I thought was an interesting and effective way to explain it to us.  

Tour of the Basqueland Brewery

Kevin also talked about how during the pandemic this past year, there was a “candemic” going on as well, which I did not even realize was happening. The candemic was caused by consumers not wanting to drink beer from the tap in fear of getting COVID at restaurants; therefore, everyone started drinking canned beers and that resulted in a shortage of cans worldwide. Basqueland Brewery started to stockpile cans from whoever they could find that was selling them. Kevin told us that many other companies were running out of cans worldwide. It was interesting to hear about how the COVID pandemic affected different types of businesses in their own way, whether that be in the United States or in Spain.  

Overall, it was interesting to experience a different side of Basque culture apart from the amazing cuisine and pintxos.  

Eskerrik asko! Agur!