Christmas time10 December, 2019
Lavinia, 10 December 2019
Here we go again, as usual in the middle of the night, when I can’t get a good night’s sleep. For then my thoughts go in all directions, and my fantasies begin to turn into words.
Despite the fact that we have ‘holidays’, we remain busy. It seems as if our to-do list never ends. And over and over again, new things come along that make sure that we are constantly working on our project. We are mostly brainstorming on new concepts, on process automation, and on the practical elaboration of our next season.
It also turns out that we need to replace the 65 meter long wall that runs along our driveway, because the big pine trees (bring in a bit of Christmas atmosphere after all 😉) push the wall diagonally, and actually need to be cut down. So we are currently busy preparing this. We have to get permission on paper from the owner of the trees – which is not easy to get to the man, get permission of the government, find workmen who want to repair the wall at an affordable price, submit a request to the insurance company – who unfortunately refused to intervene, etc….
Last week there was again a mini Gota Fría, so there were again some places in the neighbourhood under water, and unfortunately also our wash-annex-warehouse was under water for the second time. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as Easter this time, but we were able to get back to work with our Kärcher vacuum cleaner. Since the last flood in April, Wim was lucky enough to put everything on pallets, so fortunately there was no damage this time. Only a few boxes that I had placed in a clearing rage from our house there, did share in the damage. This has been my main activity for the past month : cleaning up. I have a terrible nesting urge. On the one hand because we now live a lot more inside, and on the other hand because there is time available for it. I can’t find any real rest because our house was a dump and still is. Everything is piled up here, and I don’t seem to be able to get our whole house in order. I feel a tremendous need to create peace in my head, and I can’t get this if I don’t have tranquillity in my own house. So for more than two days I’ve been ‘fertilizing’ my kitchen, reorganizing it, cleaning it and making it tidy. The result is that I currently have a completely free, shiny marble worktop. It hurts the eyes and no longer looks like a ‘work kitchen’, but I need this. Almost fanatically I want everything to be put back in place as I put it there. Wim even jokes about it by neatly putting everything in the fridge with the labels facing forward, and neatly putting everything in a row. It makes me realize that I’m exaggerating a bit, but I also know that this won’t last forever, and I’ll soon become more nonchalant again, and everything will return to normal proportions and my kitchen will soon look ‘normal’ again. Unfortunately, a large part has moved to the hall and the office. Also there I have some cleaning work. Because you need storage space to be able to organize, we’ll just have purchased a number of cabinets for the desk to properly organize and the wardrobe that was there was moved to our bedroom. Now suddenly I have a mini-dressing in our bedroom. It’s so big that we can divide it into two parts, our bed with ‘my TV’ at the foot end (I know, it’s really not healthy, but I love to netflix or watch Flemish channels again, because that gives me 100% relaxation), and behind it are the wardrobes that make up the dressing room. A bit strange perhaps for a naturist couple, but, nevertheless, we also need clothes to get out of the house, whether it’s too cold in the morning and after 5 pm to walk naked. Here we enjoy our fireplace, which burns nicely in the morning and in the late afternoon. Delicious to enjoy the warmth of the flames. During the day the temperature reaches around20 degrees -in the shade- so we can easily get our vitamin D for a few hours. We can still put our siesta in the hammock, enjoying the warm rays on our body.
On Thursday a group of yogis will arrive who will enjoy 5 days of peace and quiet on our property, nature and silence. As we organize it, there is a lot to it, from booking the plane tickets and transport, to finding out what to do and organizing picnics and meals, and so on. Of course it’s working with deadlines again, but hey, isn’t that typical for two perfectionists? I do look forward to it, especially since Charlotte, who gives the yoga, is a very nice lady. It’s also something totally new for us, a group that’s coming, a small group of 5, but it’s different than in the regular season. I am curious what this will bring. The day after they leave again, we also travel to our family and friends in Belgium for 12 days. The period that we are not here, friends are coming over to ‘house-sit’, so there is always someone present, which is also a great comfort for us.
Looks like Christmas is coming. Other years Christmas always strikes me a bit, but this year it is a complete tsunami. It doesn’t fit in with my experience at all. It is winter, it is said, but here the sun shines on average about 7 hours a day and it is, at the warmest moment of the day, in the sun, about 30 degrees. It’s only when we made a trip to the castle of Alicante on Sunday, and it turned out that there was a Christmas market – albeit in a Spanish way- with large paella pans and large barbecues, that it was clear to me that Christmas was coming. What’s more, they try to stage a snow cannon and an immensely large plastic ball with a snow scene to stage a little bit of winter, a little artificial.
And that while I’m strolling along the stalls in a sleeveless t-shirt . The real Spaniards wear winter coats, which seems strange to us, but it seems that you only really integrated when you also walk immersed as soon as it’s no longer hot outside. By the way, we’re starting to get integrated. We take private Spanish lessons with a super cool teacher, and we have a great time. But with a lot of habits I have a hard time, in the sense that Spaniards often take little notice of others. They just park at a roundabout, or at a red light, and never thank you when you let them cross the street. They are chatting in the middle of the footpath or the aisle in the shop so no one can pass them, but they don’t move aside, even when they see you coming. It annoys me immensely and I can’t resist calling out ‘perdona’ in advance and going crazy with my shopping cart. It is also customary to be very loud on the phone, even in a full waiting room at the doctor’s, so that everyone can follow the conversation. In the supermarket at the checkout, it’s quite common for the person behind you to be standing right next to you while you’re paying, and for the cashier to just move your bought goods aside while you’re still loading them, and to start scanning the merchandise of the next client. It gives me a lot of stress to load everything into my cart as quickly as possible, so it has often happened that in my hurry I forget to zip up my wallet and my change is flying around. Which of course gives me even more stress, and with a turkeyface and like a madman I pick up the stupid copper coins and in between try to load the goods into my cart, taking care that the next client doesn’t walk with my goods. But that doesn’t happen, you can be sure of that. It’s part of their habits, as well as the fact that sometimes the cashiers are chatting extensively with a customer or a colleague who comes to ask a question, while there’s a long queue waiting and at that moment there’s no further scanning either. I’ll have to get used to it, but I will. I notice that I don’t that I don’t spontaneously step aside either, or that I sometimes double park myself. I hope that my upbringing will always prevent me from not taking into account others, because I don’t like that particular part of the Spanish, that selfish little streak they have here.
On the other hand, in this place, everyone would do anything for you, even if they barely know you. So we have Miguel, the cute handyman who was so touched at the inauguration, who came to see if he could fix the wall for us. He speaks quite unintelligible, and seems to be the only one who doesn’t understand us very well either, so he always brings his quiet busy son with him, who then translates everything into English. The son, who then talks about his father in an almost irreverent and playful way, shows enormous respect for his father, and small things, like the way he picks a piece of cement from his hair, show that he loves him. When he comes to his father’s aid – in his little free time – because he feels sorry for him because he finds the work is too hard for the older man, you can see that he loves him. Spaniards have a lot of respect for their family, and also for friends, it turns out. They regard us as ‘friends’, they say, and it turns out, the son arranges the contact with the owner of the trees himself in order to obtain permission on paper to chop them down. Just like that, without us asking for it, completely free of obligation. I don’t know if this would be the case in Belgium… at least not for almost strangers. Or the couple who come to clean the houses, who have brought us a box of homemade cakes since the third time they came. By the way, I just found out yesterday that I used their box to store quinoa in my kitchen, complete with a label on it, all the way through my clean-up rage. To my own shame, I neatly removed the label, and filled the box with some of my own pastries. It’s a matter of ‘something for something’, because today they are coming to prepare the houses for the yogis.
Today I let myself be pampered by having my nails taken care of, I’m going to buy presents, and I’m going to hang Christmas decorations anyway. I fear that otherwise the culture shock will be too great when I arrive in Belgium. I have to give myself a little Christmas spirit, no matter how strange and unnatural it may feel. Have I already become a bit Spanish anyway ?
Annemie ofte Ana
P.S. Some more pictures of our ‘Christmas’walk in the old town of Alicante and the castle