Semana Santa

24 April, 2019

Easter, Sunday, April 21, 2019

Here in Spain Easter is celebrated exuberantly, especially in the week before, the Semana Santa. There are numerous processions in colourful robes with pointed hats and brass bands playing custom music in the atmosphere of the subject depicted around the suffering of Christ. Traditionally, the week starts on Palm Sunday with the typical beautiful works of art that they make from bleached palm leaves on Palm Sunday.

Because we are so busy day in and day out, and sometimes we do not allow ourselves to rest, some things completely pass us by. We would have let this event pass us by, were it not for the fact that my oldest brother was visiting just last week. He is passionate about history and culture. He wanted to experience this himself and took us into his story in his enthusiastic style. It became an extremely surprising and burgeoning experience. The whole city was buzzing with pleasant crowds, but the atmosphere seemed different than usual, yet much more subdued and quieter than we are used to from the noisy Spaniards. People were chatting on a terrace and enjoying themselves, while the procession passed in the street. Unlike in Belgium, the streets are not marred with crush barriers, but people are simply enjoying the spectacle on both sides of the streets. Some are even just taking pictures in the procession itself. The music swelled and to the rhythm of the music the Pasos were worn on which Maria is carried on a huge platform decorated with flowers. Despite the fact that I am not really religious, it did do something to me, the awe for the culture, for the people who walk in the procession as penance. The atmosphere, the music, they take you with their melancholy or their modesty.

It was a wonderful experience to be able to experience this, and you must have seen this. I am grateful to my brother for briefly withdrawing us from our project to also taste the real Spain, the soul of the Spaniards. The fact that he told us full of passion about the meaning and the symbolism behind it, prompted us to get attention for the religious experience. No float, but an enormous rich history and culture that I only respect.

Eric “honoured” us for 5 days with his visit, and it was a wonderful reunion. We talked for hours and he took a lot of odd jobs out of our hands. Together with Wim, for example, he dragged incredibly heavy cupboards – the remains of the previous owner – from our house to the lavenderia, which is located next to our house via a long, wide staircase. The cabinets were so heavy that they had to be taken apart and then put back together in the lavenderia. There they will serve as storage space for the linen for the villas. He also picked up pieces of glass that were scattered around the houses thanks to the vandals who had destroyed everything here before our purchase of the domain. He dragged logs for the fireplace, and so on. But above all, he enjoyed the beautiful mature garden with all kinds of native plants that he had never seen before. He enjoyed the breath-taking view of the mountains and the distant sea, the sun, and even the cool water in the pool. Together we swam for the first time in our own swimming pool. His wonder about our domain, about the garden, about the location gave me a warm and proud feeling. We were so lucky that we had the unique opportunity and that we were here at the right time with the right people, so that we could buy this at a good price. We were right with our feeling then, that day of our first visit. One look between Wim and me, without words, and we already knew that this would be our place, and the place paradise for our guests. We were able to look through the overgrown garden and the broken windows and see what potential this property had. Our guests will never believe where we came from. And we can be proud that we have been able to achieve so much in such a short time. This was of course only possible thanks to the hard-working craftsmen who are present here daily and sometimes in numerous numbers. Fortunately we are here day in and day out, so that we can follow up everything very closely. In the end this appears to be half a day’s work.

Next week the last jobs will be done at the houses, and we will have a number of people paint everything and give a thorough cleaning. The garden also gets its last irrigation network and then plantation can begin.

But in the meantime we still live between unpacked boxes …

Since Friday it is here – unlike in Belgium – constantly pouring, blowing and thunder. And that just when a good friend is visiting here with her daughter to help and enjoy “the nice weather”. Against their better judgment, they even brought a bikini and sunscreen. It is really a disappointment that this exceptional weather is just over our head.

However, we see an advantage everywhere, and thought it was an excellent moment, just before delivery of the renovation project, to check everything for water-tightness. Unfortunately, this was a major sacrifice. Wim discovered that the lavenderia, where most of our items and personal items are piled up in cardboard boxes, was completely submerged. I lost courage, just for a moment. But then immediately, together with Wim and our girlfriend, we took full action. We sucked up the water, and unloaded, sorted and brought all the boxes that were completely soaked, and where the bottom  simply fell out of the box, to their final location. It was a hellish and impossible job since we only discovered what happened at 4 pm.

Counter clockwise we finally managed to put everything in safety, and yet create a certain order in the chaos of the past months. Everything now has more or less a place, from there to get its final place in some villa, the bar, our own private house, the sauna, the office and so on. It is true that there are still a lot of boxes – as long as there were dry boxes – and a lot will still have to be unpacked. I suddenly notice that I may not have enough space in our private life. We had a lot of space in Beveren, and especially a very large kitchen to store everything neatly. So it will be a bit of a search and thought to determine where everything will find a place, to be able to work practically when there are guests. Fortunately Wendy is here to advise and assist me in this. In addition to her infinite and selfless help, she has an exceptional organizational talent with a very calm approach, and a great personality that may make it a fun unpack in the coming days instead of a stressful and chaotic assignment for me. In my mind it is chaos right now, and for a moment I am not sure how to handle it. But everything in its time, and especially not everything at once.

As if it had to be that way, we just bought a real qualitative all-purpose cleaner on Thursday that can also suck water. I don’t know how it happened, but I had to and would buy that cleaner on Thursday. All stores are closed here from Friday to Monday. Except for Saturday, but then it is immensely busy everywhere. And, as I have often experienced, it appears that I want to have the vacuum cleaner well-founded before the weekend. It seems as if the gods are involved. Or is the Semana Santa for something in between 😊?

All in all, I remained fairly relaxed. In the past I would have been shot in a cry of powerlessness, cursed in anger and wondered why this should happen to us again. Now I have only determined, without falling into heavy emotional self-pity, and took the bull by the horns. Strange how one can change? I am grateful for this, because this is a characteristic that has become very useful in our situation here. Decisiveness, and no passive watching. Do not get stuck and get knocked out of your head, but think clearly about solutions. This does not mean that I am starting to do what I have to do as a robot. On the contrary, when I was just up to the point that I found to my great dismay that somewhere at the bottom there was a box full of photos from when the children were small, it was very difficult for me. With trembling fingers and beating heart I opened the box to be able to determine the damage. Patrick, my deceased brother, looked at me from a photo with a watery haze. Why this is the first photo I saw is a mystery to me, but it came with a hammer straight into my face. From one second to the next I swung from a determined feeling to an overpowering feeling of sadness and lack. If it turned out that a number of baby pictures of the children had also suffered water damage, I still had to come to terms with myself. With a lot of love and hope for recovery, I put them to dry on a towel on the truck. I am comforted by the knowledge and the observation that only a few photos have been damaged. Fortunately I still have lots of good ones. A photo remains a tangible presence of people, even though you often think of people you love dearly but are not near, and even though they are in the most beautiful place in your heart, that tangible presence of that smiling face on paper is so important. I often heard that people who have lost everything due to fire or water damage, experience those personal photos as the most important loss. Fortunately, I have found my diaries that have covered almost my entire growth into adulthood and even a piece of adult life. So I look at it positively; “Every disadvantage has its advantage” did anyone ever say?

It is now 6 o’clock in the morning, everyone is asleep, and the wind is blowing exceptionally hard at the moment, but luckily it has stopped raining. The site manager will return on Tuesday and hopefully he will be able to find out and, in particular, resolve the cause of the flood of the lavenderia. It was of course an exceptional rainy weather, but nevertheless I would rather not experience this again. No Easter with my brother in Bruges for the first time, together with the family. No traditional Easter egg siren in its “forest” … Well, “every advantage has its disadvantage” will I just think for sure?

Feliz Pascua !

Annemie or to Ana

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