Basking in Basque Country: Portraits from My Time Living and Teaching in Spain

Basking in Basque Country: Portraits from My Time Living and Teaching in Spain

Alsasua Navarra was the complete opposite of what my mind had envisioned this adventure to look like during my homestay in Spain. Growing up in different types of suburbia, my hope was to be placed within a loud bustling city- the type of location I’ve always had the pleasure of visiting, but never living in.

Instead, I was immersed in a town nestled in the mountains that was rich in culture, vibrancy, and authenticity in ways that Americans can easily overlook in our busy lives.

Below are photos from my time living and teaching English in Spain, and the special people that I met along the way.

Alsasua is a zany village located in the Basque region of Spain, filled with whimsical personalities of people who reminded me of how to live in the moment, smile constantly, and embrace daily life.

This is Luis, the uncle of the boys whom I taught English to in Alsasua. His smile illustrates the warm hospitality that the Basque people carry naturally. I had only met him once before taking this photograph, and yet he made me feel like family when we greeted each other the second time around.

In a small town, you’re bound to run into the same people, doing the same activities, at the same hour, everyday. This couple would strike up conversation with me almost every morning at the bakery, and again in the evening at the local bar with the same enthusiasm and energy that always left me feeling positive and refreshed.

My little host brothers Alain and Amet (on the right), playing with their cousin Bidane while on vacation in the Pyrenees Mountains. Their imagination and ability to creatively invent a game out of any tangible object was inspiring, even if the games would turn into competitions that would eventually end in screaming and tears. Apparently that’s normal when it comes to 4 and 5 year-olds, in any country. Within 5 minutes, they resume playing joyously.

Me (on the left), my host mom, and her sister in-law enjoying drinks during the San Juan Festival in the town square. Believe it or not, this was actually my first day in Alsasua! I had met my host mom that morning, and her sister in-law an hour prior to the festivities! Needless to say, we hit it off pretty quickly.

The local band of Alsasua. Whether it’s a festival or simply someone’s birthday, these guys are the life of the party!

Unlike my host mom, some Basque women tend to come off reserved. However, once the music and dancing commences, it doesn’t take long to see smiles and laughter!

From my experience, it’s very rare to see the Basque in a bad mood. Amet’s shoes were always coming off while we were walking, and which caused him (and my host mom) a lot of frustration. Crying quickly turned into contagious giggles and silliness that lasted the entire day.

Alain’s 6th birthday party at their grandparents farm, right outside of town. The ideal gathering for the Basque consists of the outdoors, delicious hearty food, and being surrounded by family and enjoyable conversation.

Spanish ham is eaten everyday for multiple meals, but it always remains a treat and something to look forward to. My host dad was showing me how to thinly slice the ham – which is a lot more difficult than expected – but worth it.

Overall, this adventure not only enriched me in many areas, but it was also filled with pleasant reminders of how much more enjoyable life can be when you take the time to bask in everyday blessings.


About the Author: Arielle Farinas

I’m a Los Angeles native living in South Florida, working as a photographer with a passion for portraits, a user experience researcher with a passion for better understanding customer needs….and planning for my next trip. For more details about my adventure teaching english in Spain, check out my blog


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4 thoughts on "Basking in Basque Country: Portraits from My Time Living and Teaching in Spain"

  1. Nina Gonzalez says:

    Simply breathtaking and inspiring. A reminder of how life is and can be. So ready to relocate after seeing this!

  2. Kathleen Abrahamian says:

    Beautiful photos and storytelling Arielle! You really captured the essence and flavor of the region. Good luck in all of your endeavors, you are very talented.❤️

  3. Stephanie Ayala says:

    This makes me want to have an experience like this for myself!! Beautiful and inspiring!

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