Today red is just love between you and me again (*)8 September, 2020
Lavinia, Saturday 5 September 2020
An hour ago the last guests left for the time being, back in the direction of Belgium. It was a very dual feeling, because this is way too early in the year. Presumably our season, and that of all accommodations in Spain, is already over. September should have been our top month, but unfortunately everything has been cancelled now. It were strange weeks where the uncertainty gnawed at me. Watching the news anxiously, both in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain. And yet the news from Belgium seems to have hit everyone like a bomb. Spain suddenly turned red and became a no-go zone. Nobody seems to understand. While there have been no real changes in Spain itself to date. The zones that Spain itself coloured orange are justified, and immediate measures were taken there as well. When Spain takes the colouring book in hand, Alicante remains yellow, nothing has changed, the necessary caution is maintained. The situation is being monitored just as closely, but no additional measures are being taken. Schools will open next week, there are no additional restrictions, nada. We do not understand it either. But perhaps we are biased because we have to live off our – mainly foreign – guests. There is no doubt about that. And, of course, ‘no guests’ just means that the costs continue to run while there is zero income. I don’t want to be too subjective, and I constantly hear reactions from friends or colleagues of guests who say that they are labeled as ‘selfish’ because they choose to travel to our regions. People are being pointed the finger. We suddenly catapult ourselves back into the Middle Ages where people were expelled because they had the plague. Where people were suddenly no longer worthy to live, where they were pointed the finger when they dared to contact a sick person.
Molokaï suddenly seems to come closer again also. I read an article in which a girl at school – I don’t know if it was in Belgium or not – was humiliated and bullied because she was accused of ‘contaminating’ the other children. As if it was a deliberate choice of someone to infect another, it is often just bad luck to get infected – if you stick to the rules.
Are we, as humanity, going to demean ourselves like this again? We are so much wiser, so much smarter, we know so much more, at least that’s how we hold ourselves back. But actually we are not much better than the ignorant people back then. Haven’t we learned anything? It makes me angry and sad. I even read a reaction from someone at FB who reacted to a B&B owner who wrote down his powerlessness because after only 2 years he might have had to close his business because of these circumstances. It was a particularly heartless revenge reaction from someone who felt that ‘one is his death, the other his bread’, and that it was only natural, even justified, that B&B’s would go upside down because people do not want or are not allowed to come to Spain. He made no abstraction whatsoever of the fact that the majority of people think that Spain suddenly turns completely red, while in Belgium, which is more than ten times smaller, it is divided into zones. Why is it so difficult to concede something to others? It seems to me to be a short-sighted and jealous remark. However, I am not interfering in this debate. I have no say in it, I do not want to worry about it.
It only generates negative energy to do so. When we heard the news, we had just installed ourselves with a snack and a drink in the cosy corner by the jacuzzi. We would take an evening for ourselves and in the glow of the full moon we would enjoy the beautiful view and the lovely water of our oversized ‘bath’. We already enjoyed that investment, by the way!
But when the message came in, the sky fell on my head. Suddenly the ground beneath our feet subsided. Still under mine. Because Wim – as always – remained calm under it. As of 8 September, we had normally received 3 couples, and another couple a day later. And suddenly this disappeared completely. Even though I had expected this, even though I had taken this very much into account, I hoped somewhere deep down that we would only fall into a negative travel advice after the 8th. Unfortunately. On top of this, the guests had pressed the wrong buttons on the panel of the jacuzzi, so suddenly the water was only 30 degrees. Our evening was shattered…
But we wouldn’t be we, if we didn’t quickly pick up the thread to knit another chapter in our concept. Even then, it may only be an interim stopgap solution to bridge the coming months. Because next year will look completely different again. As long as corona doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, 2021 will be another top year.
Wim had dragged the fire basket to our personal terrace, and fried some greasy snacks, and with a glass of wine with it, it turned out to be a top-notch evening. Enjoying what we did have. The unimaginable unique view over the sea and Alicante. The luxury of being able to sit outside until late in the evening, naked at all. In the warm yellow glow of the flames, we talked for hours. Not only about our new plan, but also about what the whole situation is doing to us, as a human being and as a couple. It was a satisfying conversation. All that uncertainty and stress does something to a human being, of course. And when I hear it all around us, it is a great stressor for each of us. Each with a different impact on his life, but it leaves no one untouched. That’s why I’m glad that we were able to give at least two and a half months’ rest and a carefree holiday to a lot of guests. Every guest, without exception, indicated that he was experiencing enormous stress, and was really ready for this holiday. Even more than other years. It was wonderful to see how people were able to relax completely after a few hours. No worries, no stress, no negativity. They were so relieved to arrive here, and to discover that this was a real oasis for them. It was for most of them, coming home after a hellish journey of many months of walking on the tips of their toes. Each of them carried the suitcase of corona with them. You could literally tell from the posture and movements of people that this suitcase was heavy, much heavier than any other suitcase. They dragged it further to the door of their villa. And as soon as they put their own suitcases on the floor, moved into the villa, and literally shaken off their clothes, the burden of that one burden disappeared, of which people sometimes didn’t realise how heavy it weighed. The movements became smoother, the breathing calmer, while the thought ‘we made it, we made it’ still had to trickle down for a while. Travelling was no longer what it had always been. But here in Lavinia the guests could let this go. More like last year, we saw people enjoying themselves intensely. From the carefree reading of a book, from enjoying the warmth of the sun on their bodies, from the silence, from the bubble of happiness. People consciously sought social contact – constantly taking the corona rules for granted -, they soaked up the pleasant conversations as it were, thankful that there was also a little ‘normal’. Our task was to facilitate those social contacts, invisibly unburdening them. The corona factor constantly played a role in our minds. But the guests were allowed to forget this for a moment. They were allowed to pretend for a moment that corona did not exist… Just for a moment. We were the orchestra leader who, wearing a mask, could let people at the table, enjoy good food and drink, chat and laugh without worries.
We ensured that the distance was maintained, simply by arranging the set up of the tables so that everyone was seated far enough from each other, but could still enjoy dining together. The evenings were incredibly pleasant and we were able to get a lot of energy out of them ourselves. And I want to remember those moments of real human contact – even if it’s a bit uncomfortable because you can’t touch each other with a friendly pat on the back or a heartfelt hug.
When I saw and heard that the guests who came here, as well as the day trippers , could recharge their batteries like never before, then my battery was also recharged. My battery of beautiful memories, which I will cherish forever. I don’t want to deny it to you, this wonderful message in our guestbook of our last guests for the time being…
“Dear Ana , Dear Wim
And God created day and night
And all that lives and moves
And saw that it was good
Finally, he created Lavinia
To rest and enjoy yourself
A fantastic place where we can
enjoyed 14 days of rest and
where we enjoyed good food and
a pleasant chat, during the day or at the
Crackling fire, by the pool or
on the sunny terrace with beautiful views.
Superlatives are too short for our stay to define. Just Top!
This guestbook means so much to me, to us. You know, of course, that people don’t write anything negative in it. And that’s why this is so beautiful; this book is the positive story of Lavinia, of everyone who helps to build the unique interactive life story of our youngest offspring, Lavinia. And this turned out to be the case again last week when the Belgian W&A just helped to put together our lounge sofa made of pallet wood – how can it be any other way? We had worked it out, everyone was on an excursion, so we could work on it without disturbing anyone. We were still thinking about how in God’s name we would fasten the backrest when they suddenly came up the stairs. Sooner than expected, W&A had come ‘home’. We felt a bit ‘caught’, because it really wasn’t our intention to do this kind of work while the guests were at home. But, all in all, we were very happy with their proposal to help out. In the end, W. put the whole bank together, assisted by his wife and myself, to reach out all the material. Walking around each other in a strange dance, in order to maintain the conscious distance. In the end it turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon, relaxed and very cosy.
The result is wonderful, and the lounge was inaugurated that same evening during our night swimming by the crackling fire from the fire basket, next to the illuminated swimming pool. For hours we had the most enjoyable evening. The saying “it doesn’t have to be more than that” says it all. That’s how often people think they have to do extraordinary things on holiday to enjoy themselves. But simply being with others, looking at the stars and the dancing flames with a good glass of wine, a toast out of the fist, talking about whatever comes to mind, that’s holiday too. Also for us.
I do not want to make a plea about how safe it is here. Let everyone decide for themselves. We don’t have to tell others that it is safe for them to come on holiday. We can only ensure that guests who do come can experience that feeling of safety in the best possible way. No more, no less. Yes, I have to improve myself. We can give them the holiday they really need, they can find the peace they are looking for here.
In the coming month, and by extension as long as Spain bears the stamp of negative travel advice, we will inevitably focus on Spanish holiday-seekers temporarily. Because the Spanish guests are not able to pay for long holidays, they are often looking for a few days in the weekend to go out in between. The next days we work out a number of new ideas to respond to this. So it will be quite exciting if we succeed. Day by day we look at the situation. And from 2021 onwards, everything will be back to normal, for all I care. Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will come anyway.
In the meantime, we too will take some time to enjoy our own holiday domain and the lovely temperatures, which are still around 30° at the moment. Maybe it will even come down to reading another book and practicing some Spanish. 😊
Hasta la vista!
(*) from the song ‘Rood’ by Marco Borsato