Fernando Lejardi – Elko, Nevada

“I think instead of going forwards, we’re going backwards again, and it’s so sad. Instead of being more united, I see more the opposite way. So hopefully everything goes better, more than for us – I’m getting older – for my daughter’s future, the next generation, hopefully it changes…that would be good.”

“I’ve been in the United States since 1996, so 21 years…First, I did the residency, then after like three or four years after, I did the citizenship. It was 2013, like four years ago.”

“It depends, I had a chance to do it with my company – the residency – and when I was going to put in the papers…the lawyer tell me ‘with her (my wife) it will be faster’ and I tell her I don’t care, I have the choice with my company. We talked to each other, and finally I did it with her. If you do it like that it’s faster, it takes you two or three years, I think. The other way you have to wait five, I think.”

“When I was like six or seven I used to play, like every kid over there. I played with a bicycle, soccer, running – all that kind of stuff – and Jai alai too, so I started playing, little by little. They have in Markina, Bizkaia, they have what they call ‘The University of the Pelota’ – ‘of the ball’ – so yeah, I end up getting there with that school. You go, growing up playing tournaments and all that stuff. I was lucky to go pro when I was 18 – I got a contract to go to Mexico City and I end up playing four years over there. After that I got a contract to go to Tampa, Florida for almost two years. And from Tampa, the same company, they hired me to go to Miami and for almost the last 17 years I was playing in Miami Jai Alai.”

“I grew up in Basque Country until I was 18 and after I came to Mexico City, to Florida – almost 20 years in Florida – and I just came like a year and a half ago to Elko, Nevada. My wife’s home town.”

“It’s totally different. Basque Country is kinda small, compared to all other places. I’m from a small town. First time I went out, I went to Mexico City which is like 22 million (people) – it was something impressive. My ‘city’ over there is Bilbao, and it like, I don’t know, 250,000 people or something. It’s kinda big, but compared with that, it’s nothing.”

“I grew up like 40 minutes from Bilbao, in a smaller town. There is a big Basque community here (in Elko), we have a nice Basque Club, they follow the roots, with dancing and music and food.”

“I miss the food, that’s one of the biggest things. Over there, people work, but I think they go out more and stuff than here. Here people work to live. You have nice places here too, but over there is a lot of bars, a lot of places to eat – what they call tapas or pinchos or whatever – a little drink a little bite, and everything is more close, you can walk.”

“The key of the game? Good eyes, reflexes, and move – because you have to catch the ball. If you don’t catch in the place you have to catch it’s going to bounce, and if the ball bounce or something the referee is going to call you…You have to have good reflexes, be smooth, and move.”

“The record in Guinness (for fastest throw of the pelota) was like 188 miles per hour – this happened in 1978 in Newport Jai Alai, in Rhode Island. But I don’t know how accurate it is, because that was ‘78. I see one of my friends in the Basque Country, maybe six, seven, eight years ago or something and I don’t know how much it is in miles, but in kilometers it was 200 and something and he throws really hard. It depends who throws, too. Some guys are really strong and other ones who throw slower, but have more technique.”

“I’m 100% from there. I came from there to here. Even if my wife is like 2nd-Generation Basque, he grandpa from like the same town where I was born. And even if she was born here, she follows a lot of the heritage. In Miami, we were happy too, but you don’t have anything Basque-related like the way they have here. Like a dance group, a Basque Club, all that kind of stuff – and she (my daughter) loves it. She’s doing really good dancing, I talk to her in Basque – I wish she can talk to me more in Basque, it’s easier for her to answer in English – and little by little…she’s happier here, I think, less shy than in Miami. It’s totally different it’s more ‘a town,’ you see people more often, after school, in the park. In Miami, everything is more far, you don’t see people as often.”

“It’s different because Spanish, Catalan, Gallego, Portugese and all of those, they came from Latin. But Basque, it’s not the same. They say it may be the oldest language in Europe. To tell you the truth, I’m so happy and proud to be born over there. That’s the first language I learned. My parents, my grandparents, everybody in my town speaks Basque. That’s our first language and we are so proud. After you learn Spanish, you know, the TV is cool a little bit, and really good Spanish takes you time. We speak more Basque than Spanish.”

Limited edition print available (alpha edition):
Giclée (Archival Inkjet) print w/ quotes hand-lettered on mat in silver pen.
1.25” Matte Black Frame, 2.5” Black Mat, Archival Hinge Mount, UV Glass.
21″ x 14″ (Framed: 28.5″ x 21.5″)

Fernando - Limited Edition Print, Alpha Series
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