Dana Lee Johnson moved to the Basque Country with her college sweetheart who was Basque

TIAA 04: From Idaho to Ataun for Love with Dana Lee Johnson

From Idaho…

It began in high school. Dana was living in Idaho when a young man from the Basque Country would arrive in Boise and be an exchange student in her school.

They would become friends in high school and while attending Boise State University they would start dating. Surely, the discussion would begin between them as to where to continue with the relationship, in Boise or in Ataun? What would be their decision?

From Idaho to Ataun

Many times throughout the years they would return to Idaho to visit family and friends.
Dana with 2 of her sons on a trip back to see family in Idaho.

…To Ataun for Love

They made a choice that Dana and Gaizka would head over the Atlantic Ocean to Ataun (Uh-town), a small village in Gipuzkoa, Spain. There are many Basques in Boise, but Dana was not Basque and was truly migrating for love and adventure.

For love.
Dana and Gaizka, college sweethearts would make their home in Ataun, Spain
Dana Lee Johnson and Gaizka Irastorza

Getting to Learn not 1 but 2 Languages

Dana will discuss how in terms of language, she had to learn a lot in order to communicate with the locals. In some areas of Spain, Dana would’ve only had to learn Spanish. But in the Basque region and specifically in Gaizka’s hometown of Ataun, the main language was Basque. Can you imagine having to learn 2 languages at the same time that are not even remotely related?

U.S. Traditions Alive in Ataun, Spain

Many immigrants around the world will tell their story and how they would keep their old traditions alive. The same goes for an American living in the Basque Country.

The Basque do have several holidays where everyone dresses up in costumes including some historical pagan festivals as well. What Dana did to teach her sons about some typical U.S. American customs was to organize all the children and families in Ataun to celebrate Halloween American style with costumes and trick or treating. Dana would also celebrate Thanksgiving with her family and friends by cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

In the episode, we discuss a lot more so tune in to the full episode with Dana Lee Johson above in the player or on your favorite podcast player.

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Kaixo, I'm Esther!

I help Expats, people with Basque roots & language lovers like you learn Basque without it being too hard.

As a daughter of immigrants and now an Expat myself, I’ve created the podcast The Immigrant All Around to showcase the stories of the people around us.  

Learn more about me and how I can help you HERE.

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