The Basques of the diaspora are like the air: they’re essential and present everywhere, even if most of the time, they’re not visible. But, regardless, at any moment, if we just scratch a little at history, we can find them participating in all kinds of interesting events, big and small. We’ve found an example of that today in the Idaho Mountain Express, when they published an article on the retirement (at the age of 71!) as a ski instructor of renown local artist Ralph Harris. He’s quite a character in Sun Valley.
In the article, we discovered that his mother’s name was Pilar and that his family, the Arriagas, came to Idaho from the Basque Country in 1881, to be shepherds at that time. In the ’50s, in one of those coincidences in life, Pilar Arriaga and her sister Paulita met Ernest Hemingway during one of his regular stays in Sun Valley. It’s no secret that Hemingway was deeply interested in Basque culture, which, when joined by his love of a beautiful table, led him to share more than one evening with Pilar and her son Ralph Harris, enjoying a Basque dinner and speaking, no doubt, about the stories of our country.
Idaho Mountain Express 29-6/2011 – USA
Not Ralph Harris’ first valley rodeo
…Hemingway had more than a passing interest in Basque culture. He had written about the running of the bulls in Pamplona in “The Sun Also Rises” and documented bullfighting in Spain in “Death in the Afternoon.” Pilar and Ralph Harris entertained Hemingway at their home in Hailey, serving Basque cuisine and perhaps a few stories from the old country.