Gran apertura

2 June, 2019

Lavinia, June 1, 2019

We have lived and worked for months to yesterday, and countless other people with us. It was often a race against time, but we met the deadline. Punctually at 6 pm we were dressed and welcomed our guests. Up to the last minute, together with our dearest friends Mieke, Ann and Pat, we have toiled to prepare the big fiesta. For the first time since we have been living here I have been able to make the effort to dress nicely, make up and feel feminine. Because, I have to admit, the past few months were all about the renovation and the interior. And you just don’t do that in party clothes. Certainly not with the workmen who are constantly present and bring dust and dirt anyway. I don’t want to be the classy lady who pays her “working people” and in the meantime plays the lady. No, both Wim and I have an enormous amount of respect for everyone who has contributed in his own way in the past months to help shape our dream. And that was ultimately the purpose of the opening party. Take a moment to personally thank everyone who has helped complete this unique project in his own unique way, with his own talents, possibilities and knowledge. We are happy that we dared to put our trust in the local Spaniards, and deliberately did not choose Dutch-speaking or English-speaking people. We have experienced that we have to revise the box thinking, “Spaniards always take Siesta, or it is always mañana”, in fact, we spread it to everyone that we have fully experienced the opposite. Siesta, yes, but they are there every morning at 8 a.m. Nothing was too much, and they gladly gave a helping hand when Wim was once again struggling to get a device or furniture up the slope and the many stairs. As time went on, we started creating a bond with most of them who often came here. Spaniards are generally very physical in their greeting and talking. For example, they invariably came to give Wim a warm pat on the back, or they walked upstairs with Wim, the arm over his shoulder.

We did not know how many people we could expect, because we do not yet know those customs well. Some had confirmed, others had said nothing at all. I gradually notice that I am starting to live and experience some Spanish. For example, our Belgian friends started to put us in a completely different mode because of their enthusiasm to organize the party. Suddenly a scenario was drawn up, in true “meeting style”, tasks were divided, brainstorming about decoration and approach to the official moment. Lovely, but also a bit double to leave “our child, Lavinia” a little to the good care of our friends. However, it soon proved invaluable and in a few days so much work was done that we were shocked at how beautiful it has become.

Mieke thought we should only think about our guests, about socializing. So they gave us every opportunity to do that. Mieke popped into the kitchen days beforehand to make the most delicious marinades and side dishes, Ann and Pat made sure everything was tidy, dragged the mountain of prunings all the way up, set up the terrace, provided lights, the red ribbon and cloth that would later reveal the name ‘Lavinia’ later that evening. It was one oiled machine that was running behind the scenes. And although they did not know each other before, it soon became apparent that they too had become friends. It was as if it had always been that way, and as if they were always organizing parties together for many years. It is not easy to give control of things, certainly not for me. But once the guests were there and we noticed that we could give them all the attention, give a tour of our own, talk without worrying about food or drinks, it was a wonderfully liberating feeling. We were a little bit the celebrated of our birthday party and were served like kings.

Wim wanted to give a short speech in Spanish to thank the people explicitly. I didn’t even had time to read the speech in advance. My text was simply printed in black (his in red), and I had to read it. Not easy in a foreign language, especially if it contains words that I had never heard before. The fact that we did this in Spanish seemed to appeal to the almost exclusively Spanish guests. They even encouraged when I stumbled over a word or didn’t know how to pronounce it.

The large contractor was enthusiastically filming the whole event, and people clapped enthusiastically when someone was appointed. Halfway through the speech, Miguel suddenly came forward with tears in his eyes, and emphatically took Wims and my face in his hands to give us a kiss and to thank us for the nice words. It was so spontaneous and sweet, so friendly that I felt overwhelmed by the Spanish warmth and cordiality.

When our friends were also introduced by name and as “jefe de la cocina (chef), jefe de barbacoa (bbq manager) and jefe del servicio (chief of the service) “, loud applause was heard. Great for them, because they deserve that more than anyone. And it wouldn’t have been Wim if he didn’t mention me in it either, something I hadn’t expected at all, and immediately immersed me in an emotional moment. A tear welled up in me and I gave him a big hug and kiss, which in turn was met with “oh’s” and moving reactions. Wim is a warm and thoughtful man, wonderful, I am so blessed.

We invited everyone to the center square just next to the bar to symbolically cut the ribbon that Pat had carefully hung. We would open one villa as a viewing villa, so that people could see what had become the result of so much hard work. People loved it, and the previous owner was satisfied that we had preserved and restored many elements from the past. And we saw that it was good …

The entire further evening we had a delicious dinner and a drink, and talked to all our guests. They listened patiently to our poor Spanish, and we even had real dialogues. Admittedly with a lot of mistakes, but who cares? Our guests had a lot of respect for our friends, who had come all the way from Belgium and helped us so hard and selflessly. I was proud of my friends and was so happy that everyone tried to chat with them and thanked them personally for their dedication and kindness. Hugs were even handed out, as mates among themselves. So beautiful to see! It was wonderful to see how our terrace, with its beautiful view, looks like with people who enjoy being together. I am incredibly craving to share this experience with our guests.

I experienced the evening as a daze, like a beautiful pink cloud; our baby is now officially born and baptized. I even got the baby blues when all the guests were gone, and we had a nice chat on the terrace. I was overwhelmed by my emotions of gratitude for so many beautiful things in my life, by emotions of pure friendship. I did not stay with these feelings. I could not compare it better than when my children were still babies and I felt so much love for them that I felt the need to bite them.

You can love someone so much that you want to eat them, they say, right? Well that is the correct description of my feelings from yesterday. However, cannibalism is not really tolerated here in our society, so I just kept it with big hugs where I maybe squeezed just a little too hard to be comfortable for them. But then it just had to. Also a group hug could not be missing of course. Dull and intensely happy I fell asleep like a log. Dreaming about friends for life, love for life, about our integration into our new homeland and about our paradise on earth, …

Lavinia te amo…

Hasta luego,

Annemie or Ana

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