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Would you like to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador, following the footsteps of Basque whalers? A cultural trip is being organized for 2017

02/04/2015

Iñaki Arizmendi, one of the expeditions sponsors, in Terranova
Iñaki Arizmendi, one of the expeditions sponsors, in Terranova

Several expeditions have taken place over the last few years in the footsteps of the Basque whalers in Newfoundland, but always in traineras that recreate the ancient whaling boats.  Now, anyone wishing to participate in such a trip and see the amazing landscapes of the North American Atlantic Coast firsthand has a unique opportunity thanks to entrepreneur Iñaki Arizmendi.  Originally of Beasain, but currently residing in New York, Arizmendi is organizing a tourism/cultural trip for 240 people to Newfoundland and Labrador on board of an icebreaker in 2017. 

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Bilbao, Bizkaia.  This is a unique expedition, a trip that unites the cultural to the lure of travel to places that are inaccessible by any other means. So the “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” will take place on board an icebreaker with a capacity for 240 people, and will also include the participation of several historians and archeologists, who will help participants to relive the experiences of those Basque who came to these lands in the XVI century in hunt of the treasure that was whaling.

The trip was presented this week at the Maritime Museum in Bilbao, by its supporters, including Iñaki Arizmendi.  This entrepreneur has lived in New York for the last 30 years, where besides his business, he is dedicated to organizing trips and cultural projects.  Sabin Egilior is also involved in the project who will make a documentary about it.  “A couple of years ago, Iñaki and I collaborated on a documentary series covering Route 66 in the US on a motorcycle.  It wasn’t a money-making project, just a cultural experience.  This trip is the same but open to many more people,” he says.

Now, his ambition is to allow participants to get first-hand knowledge of the Basque whalers’ experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador, visiting places where they worked and stayed, holding meetings and cultural exchanges with the local communities under the guidance of participating historians. They are, Robert Grenier and Manu Izagirre who participated in the discover ot he Nao San Juan, that sunk in the frozen waters of the Red Bay; and the historian Latonia Hartley, who will explained the historic contact of the different culture in that area, including the Basques.

The boat, the Ocean Endeavour, will leave Saint John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador on June 15, 2017, and for eight days, will travel to places like Fogo Island, Red Bay, Port-aux-Basques and the islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon.  All of this would be a very difficult trip to make by any other means.  “In fact, the boat will not be able to dock at all the sites, and some of us will have to anchor and approach in zodiac,” Sabin says.

All information on the project is available on its website http://basquewhalers.info.  Cost of the trip is 1,900 Euros, with lodging on the ship and all food and activities included.  It will be presented to the world’s Basque clubs in the coming months, and in April in New York and in July at Jaialdi in Boise, Idaho.  “We hope that we can encourage people from different parts of the Diaspra, because the cultural exchange between the participants will only make it a richer experience,” says Egilior.

For more information on the Project: web http://basquewhalers.info.



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