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Aritz Azkue, engineer from Zarautz: “I have challenges ahead that motivate me to stay in Mexico”


Aritz Azkue visiting the archeological zone of the Palenque in Chiapas
Aritz Azkue visiting the archeological zone of the Palenque in Chiapas


“We are going to change the subject a bit, leaving the Coronavirus aside and focus on something else, today interviewing, and getting to know the life of a young Zarauztarra, Aritz Azkue, in Mexico.  At 27, he is the oldest of three brothers (Julen and Mikel).  He studied electrical engineering at the University of Navarre (Tecnun) and holds a Masters in Renewable Energy and Environment from the Polytechnic University in Madrid.” Antxon Etxeberria signs this interview in the Diario Vasco.

Antxon Etxeberria / Zarautz, Gipuzkoa. He finished ahisMasters and begun working in EOS Project Management (EOSOL Group), a Navarrese company headquartered in Pamplona that loans engineering services and consulting on Renewable Energy projects, from generation(photovoltaic parks, wind farms ...) to the electrical evacuation infrastructure (lines and substation). He currently lives in Mexico City

– How and when did the opportunity to work in Mexico arise?

– I had been working in the Pamplona office for two years, and at the end of 2017 the company offered me the opportunity to go to Mexico to open an Engineering Department. Until then, we worked on projects in Mexico from Pamplona and the objective was to open a technical office to be closer to these clients and work in the same time zone, very important for monitoring day-to-day projects. When they mentioned "Mexico" at first it scares you a little; the news from there is not very good generally, but on second thought I had no doubts and at the beginning of 2018 I appeared in the country. It was not easy in the beginning, establishing yourself at 25 years old and starting to hire and manage people older than you with much more experience, is never easy, but today more than thirty engineers are in the technical office and carry out all the projects in Latin America, from Chile up to Mexico, so things have turned out fairly well. Also, this allows me to travel to new countries. I was recently in Colombia, they are very enriching experiences.

«Mexico City is another world compared to any city in Europe»

– How long will will you work in Mexico?

- For now, I don’t have a return date in mind. Having an indefinite contract and knowing that I have the possibility of returning to Pamplona whenever I want, gives me a lot of peace of mind when making decisions and not having to rush. At the company level we have several challenges ahead and I would like to be part of them. I usually go back to Zarautz twice a year, in August and December. It is true that with current technology I am very aware of my family and friend’s the day to day, but it is not the same as being there in person. There are many times when I am envious my “cuadrilla’s” plans.

What is life like there, is it very different from here?  What do young people do for fun?

– Mexico City is another world compared to any European city.  There are more than 20 million inhabitants, that is half of all of Spain.  The city is chaotic and distances are enormous; your day to day changes a lot depending on where you live, work, and make plans.  I luckily can go to work on foot, but I have colleagues that need three hours to get to the office and back home, it is something that I never would have imagined before coming here.  The neighborhood where I live and work is called Polanco, in one of the most cosmopolitan and save areas of the city, full of restaurants, stores, malls…I share an apartment with my colleague Ramon, from Gasteiz.  During the week we don’t do much more than work, but on weekends we gather with friends and make different plans.

– Are there Basques there?

– There are a lot of people from the Basque Country living in Mexico.  Many of them have come with Basque Government scholarships and have stayed here to work.  We have a nice group of friends, we are all about the same age and have the same tastes, this helps a lot when making plans, traveling, having parties. We go to the Euskal Etxea a lot.  They usually organize events like the Tamborrada, Gazte Eguna… and we gather with the Basques that are here.  They also have two frontons, and so sometimes we play pala.

– Have you had the chance to move through Mexico and get to know its pretty places?

– Yes. Internal flights in Mexico are cheap and it is a country that has a huge touristic diversity.  You have beaches, mountains, archaeological zones, lagoons, cenotes ... We take every opportunity to get away. Within Mexico, my favorite destination is Puerto Escondido, it has something that reminds me of Zarautz. We also like to go out and see other countries. We have been in the United States, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica ...

"The position of Mexico is not very clear, it seems that the president downplays the issue"

– Tell me about the climate, and the food.

– We have two seasons, dry season and rainy season. In the rainy season practically every afternoon there is a downpour. The good thing is that the temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, some do not like it, but I prefer it. Regarding the food, the most popular is tacos; it is the basic food for Mexicans always with some spicy sauce. The street stands are always full of people, no matter what time it is. The pozole, the tamales, the guacamole, the quesadillas, the chilaquiles are also very typical ... everything is good but the truth is that I am not a fan, only on specific days. In the supermarkets here you can make the same purchase as in any Zarautz store, in that sense Mexico City is no problem.

– You use to play soccer in Zarautz. What sports do you play there?

– Yes. During the week we play in the Soccer 7 Tournament, a match a week.  We are used to training for three days a week and playing on the weekend, like we did in Zarautz. We gather with many at the matches.  We play with the Basque Selection outfit, well it is the Mexican tshirt but we added the Basque Country coat of arms.

– How is the health crisis created by the Coronavirus being lived in Mexico?

– We keep up on the news from the Basque Country.  The topic of the Coronavirus today isn’t as expanded here as there, at least according to the local officials, but it seems we will soon be in the same situation.  The position taken by Mexico isn’t very clear; the rest of the countries in the area have closed their borders, and have taken very strong measures…and here it seems like the president downplays the issue.  Some of my acquaintances have returned home, I am going to wait and see how it goes.

– What do you miss the most from Zarautz?

– I miss a lot of things, my family, friends… Because of my way of being, the quality of life in Zarautz is difficult to surpass. One of the things that makes me the most angry is not being able to go to my brother Julen’s games with my mom and dad.  He plays in Amorebieta on the Segunda B.  Fortunately, I can watch them online, but it’s not the same.

– So are your plans to stay in Mexico or go home?

– For now, I’ll stay in Mexico.  We are going to see how things go in the area, as well as the economy in general, but as I said before, professionally we have challenges ahead and that motivates me to stay.

 (Interview published on 03-22-2020 in the El Diario Vasco)

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