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Thursday, June 16, 2011

He Says He's Basque... From Argentina!

Says he's Basque...
So, who am I to disagree. Actually, he says he's from Argentina and travels from polo fest to polo fest handling the horses. I wish I had remembered his name. It was one of Spanish descent, like Arturo or Miguel, but it's okay because he probably doesn't remember mine either. I've been to four polo events in the last two years and each time, we'll call him Arturo, has been there helping the players get dressed, helping them with their four legged athletes, adjusting this, and fixing that. After the second chukkar, the riders exchange horses for the second half and Arturo, cleans up and waters down and generally has a good old time caring for his equine buds! One rider can go through a polo event and use four horses for competition, which can keep a man like Arturo pretty darn busy. He seems to love it, though.

I asked him about being Basque, since he told me that was his heritage, and he told me, in his heavy accented way, he was from a small town between Spain and France. Well, I kinda knew that because my father-in-laws folks hailed from the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains, which, I was told, was Basque country. The Basques sort of have their own little country/community in northern Spain, but seem to have no allegiance to either country.

 Just for fun, I asked him if he was a Dodger fan and he looked me and at my grin and said, "We do not play your baseball in Argentina... Polo!"

"Well, I said, Bakersfield, California has a big Basque community there with lots of oil derricks amongst the sheep herders and the Basque cuisine, which is very filling, and the Double A farm team for the Dodgers, though I don't think they have any Basque players currently on the team! It is also the home of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens!"

"It's very Basque!"

He told me that he had never been to that part of California, but I made it sound intriguing enough that he might like to go. I briefly told him how I would take the family to the games for a weekend, stay with the ballplayers at the Red Lion Inn and hang around the pool so my son could soak up the baseball scene. Even around the pool, the ballplayers would be talking baseball and throwing wiffle balls around, diving for them into the pool, as they compete to see who's the best. I told him about a tomato and bean soup we'd enjoy at the many fine Basque restaurants that my wife used to hate as a kid, called "gabrure". He said he never heard of that. I then, asked him if he didn't mind me drawing some scenes of the area with the horses and trailers and all, knowing full well that I was gonna concentrate on him mostly.

"What for?" he asked. "For fun," I said!

Copyright/ Ben Bensen III 2011