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About Me


Welcome!  Join me, The Basque Traveler, as I explore my native country, the United States of America and parts of the world in search of wisdom, interesting places to share, delicious food and new friendships.  Why am I “The Basque Traveler?”  I am of French Basque descent and have proudly carried around my tricky maiden name, Jaurretche, for many years.

Some of my trips are as short as a day, other times I stay somewhere and explore for a month or more. What drives me to traipse around with often times little more than a suitcase is my zest for life and exploring.  Initially my traveling journey began as a knee-jerk response to my becoming divorced and an empty nester.

Living alone after 20+ years was somewhat uncomfortable but inspired me to continue to get out of my comfort zone and experience new places and things.  This traveling journey has also been about spending quality time with friends and family that I never had much time for while I was busy working and parenting.  Now my journey has evolved into acting out my dream of living in many places that are physically and culturally different than my native Southern California.

My life and my traveling are like anyone else’s life; I am on a journey or a passage, if you will.  This blog or photo journal is meant to capture some of those experiences as  I offer my findings and observations for you to ponder.  Think of me as an eyepiece of a lens through which to view the world from another perspective.

Happy trails to you!


The Basque Traveler

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17 Responses to About Me

  1. Patricia smith

    Congratulations! How exciting I am to finally start using your web page good luck on your very important journey I am ready to go! Hugs and support mom&.bob

    • Michelle

      Thank you, Mom! I enjoyed our visit over Mother’s Day!

  2. Bonnie Lou Cozby

    Hello…I saw a post from you on Clint Carter’s FB page (about kittens) and was intriqued by your name, Basque Traveler. I too have French Basque heritage. My grandmother was from a village in France, Urepel and I also hail from Southern California. I have an Ocean Park business – Beach Home Old and New and a page on FB. Please drop by if you are in the area again! Bonnie

    • Michelle Rago

      Kaixo! (Hello in Basque) Thanks for reaching out, Bonnie. I was up on the pennisula last spring and part of summer. I sure wish I could have met you while in town. i travel to LB at least once or twice a year so I will look you up next time. In the meantime, let’s connect on Facebook!

  3. Amelia Aleman

    BT, as I like to call you, so glad you’ve chosen this passion of travel and are willing to share your memories with us! I follow you on Facebook faithful, but I’ll try to stop on occasion to read your blogs on your web page. Keep following your heart and thanks again for taking us along for the journey. Hugs!

  4. Gracie Armstrong Lewis

    It is always so nice to see thru your eyes the breath taking and interesting sites as well. I feel I could smell the foods you’ve seem and tasted. Oh and by the way the camera shots of the feet are cute. Happy Trails

  5. Teya Vitu

    Your ancient friend Teya Vitu checks in here. Just found you. Have yet to read your travels, but I WILL as I’m as consummate a traveler as you!

  6. teyavitu

    So great to hear you finally get your knee surgery.

  7. colleen Cole-Velasquez

    You’ll have to come hang with me in my travels! It would be so much fun!

    • admin

      Thank would be awesome, Colleen. I am glad we are reconnected after all of these years.

  8. David Marshall (@Scrybler)

    Hi Michelle. Who could have guessed at the connections that would emerge when we began chatting on Twitter. As I type I’m in my home in Montori.(Montory) in the place they call the heart of Basque the Ipparalde province of Xiberoa (Haute Soule). Most people here speak Basque as their daily language, though the other side of the hill it’s Bearnais (Occident).

    Bonnie Lou’s “Urepel” is about 40 kms east of me. And in France, only because there is a huge bulge in the border with Spain (long historical story), there and Urepel is actually surrounded on 3 sides by Spain (Basque Navarre). And is very close to the route of the famous Camino of St James -s o the actor Martin Sheene passes very close to it in the early part of the film “The Way”. The countryside in that part of the film is very typical.

    Your surname is really interesting. As it most definitely straddles the area I now live, from Bearn into Soule. Your spelling is French (“Gasconised” and is quite normal) it’s Basque form is “Jauretxe”. Etxe is an exceptionally important word culturally. It gets translated variously as house or home, but really represents the relationship between family and land. It would be translated today as “The Mansion of the Lord”. But when first recorded around 1385 probably just meant “grand family” – a house built on a manor, being the most prominent people of the area but without any specified feudal status (as you would expect if they were Basque – only the French/Spanish would have used feudal titles.

    I’d love to hear how you pronounce it. They kind of sing it here and of course the j and the x will be quite unlike anything in US English. a kind of shjore etcher… Spanish speaker would get closer to the first part.

    Anyway enough for now… just fascinating that I’m here in the land of your ancestors in my 400+ year old house built by Juandediou …. but that’s another long story….

    • The Basque Traveler

      Thank you so much, David! What a wonderful and welcome surprise to find you originally on Twitter and to learn of your direct connection with my heritage. I regret that I was not raised here in the United States with a strong sense of my culture or heritage. It seems that the men (and frankly, most of the women) in our family that carried the name, Jaurretche knew little about it nor took great interest in seeking out our family lineage. Fortunately one of my father’s much younger cousins has been busy attempting to bridge that gap. I am fascinated and would love to learn more. ~ Michelle

      • David Marshall (@Scrybler & @BestWalks)

        It’s an unusual name with a strong history. You can be proud of it. Do you know when your family left the Basque homeland?

        • The Basque Traveler

          Thank you, David. I believe they left in the early 1800′s due to a war. Not sure if it was as early as the French Revolutionary War. My understanding is that two brothers left the country. One went to Mexico (my lineage) and the other to Argentina. I know many in Argentina that share my surname. I will confer with the family member who has done some of our genealogy.

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