When we were in Spain, I kept thinking I was hearing people say my name. Now, I know they weren’t actually saying my name, because as far as I know, my name is not at all common in Spain*, and I don’t know anyone there, except a friend I lost touch with over 10 years ago. So, I figured there must be a Spanish word that sounds like my name. Well, there is. Only it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. You see, there is this paramilitary organization that wants independence for the Basques. I’ve known a bit about this group due to an interest in Basque culture and the very good book The Basque History of the World. They are called Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or, more commonly, ETA, and their aim is a separate Basque homeland, and they occasionally set off bombs and kidnap people. I had always assumed that ETA was pronounced “ee-tee-ay” (or “eh-teh-ah” in Spanish I suppose), in the time-honored tradition of paramilitary groups (see IRA or PLO). But no, they pronounce ETA as “eh-tah,” which is pretty much how you pronounce my name. And if you are at all up on international events**, you probably know that last week, ETA declared a ceasefire. So apparently, all those times I was thinking I was hearing my name, I was actually hearing spirited discussions about the ceasefire.
On a side note, I was intrigued by the bizarre disguises of the ETA members who announced the ceasefire. The Basques invented the beret, so that was a nice tribute, but wearing the berets over those white hoods with the weird eye slits just seems odd.
*Let’s be honest here, my name is not common anywhere except perhaps cemeteries with a lot of late 19th century graves.
**I was going to write “unless you’ve been living under a rock,” but then I remembered how little I know about current world events, and I realized that if I hadn’t been in the country where it was happening, I might not know about it. And honestly, I got it from the BBC, not from any kind of Spanish news outlet.