Vamos a Belgica

13 May, 2019

Spain, Wednesday, May 8, 2019

After a long doubt, we finally took the plane to Belgium last week. And only for two nights.

Traveling with just a small backpack and a laptop gives a strange feeling, but also an enormous freedom. We had only announced our two-day stay to parents and children and the friends where we would be staying. Just before the flight Wim had posted a photo on Facebook in which we were on the plane, and of course this caused a number of reactions from friends who promptly invited us to come along. Given our extremely busy schedule for those few days, this was unfortunately not always possible, but we still managed to see a lot of people, and this totally unexpected for most of them. This resulted in an ‘everyone-happy’ situation. It was a bit like speed dating. Each visit a maximum of one hour, very intense, but also very nice.

We only landed in Charleroi in the afternoon where we had rented a simple Corsa. To our surprise, and almost reluctantly, the lady at the counter said that she could not give us the requested car. Instead, we received a BMW 1 with all the trimmings for the same price. Now we are not so keen on appearance, but it was a very pleasant surprise. Especially because of the extras such as the GPS that we would not normally have had. We also had to cover a lot of kilometers, and then some comfort was of course very nice. After a sandwich we immediately drove to Bruges to visit my parents. I was happy to see them again and to be able to worship my mom with an early Mother’s Day flower. She loved it, and I enjoyed her visible gratitude for this. Daddy could chat extensive, and this face to face, which is still, however, closer to us than our weekly phone calls. Saying goodbye is never fun, and especially not because we only go back to Belgium around Christmas days. The visit was unfortunately also very short, a few hours, but we simply had to divide ourselves into one hundred to complete our ‘program’.

After Bruges we drove to Ostend to our good old friend Mieke and her daughter. I have known Mieke for more than 20 years as a dear friend, since my training as a criminologist where I got to know her as a very passionate, hardworking and above all warm, lovely woman. Respect! We could go to her, as always, for a delicious hot meal and talk, laugh and be together. Blessed, that very strong friendship! People you can rely on, who you can count on, who are always there for you, in any circumstances.

After enjoying a blissful but short night’s rest and of course an extensive breakfast, we headed for Beveren to fulfill our next appointments. Knowing that she will be staying with us for three weeks next week to help us, saying goodbye made it less difficult.

We had deliberately kept an afternoon free to make some unexpected visits to some people who were not aware of this. For example, we managed to visit the Poppy, the facility where I worked with people with multiple disabilities just before I left for Spain. We ended up in the full preparation of a party in honour of the birthdays that month of some of the residents. This is an important moment for them, and especially for the party guys, it causes a wonderful nervousness, making it seem normal that I suddenly stood there. Not really realizing that I was supposed to be in Spain. Strange how they sometimes live in their own world. Others, on the other hand, were very expressly happy to see me again, and as always I received a big, honest hug. Some others clearly did not understand what happened to them when they saw me, and had to recover from the fact that I was suddenly there. My colleagues were also clearly pleasantly surprised that I visited them. It was very nice to be able to taste the busy, everyday and especially warm atmosphere of the Poppies. Unfortunately this visit was also limited in time …

As if it had to be that way, there was a happening in the cultural center that afternoon with the very appropriate theme ‘kind to my body’, specifically aimed at our adolescent youth. Isn’t this just the message that we stand for… The Family Union, the association for which we have devoted ourselves for years with heart and soul, was co-organizer. As a result, some of the most driven people on the board were present there, and we had the opportunity to talk to them for a little while. Again only happy faces! Both with us and with them. Because an unexpected visit is ultimately nice, even if it is a flashy visit. Maybe that’s why it is nice, because of the unexpected but also short-lived? I myself felt as if it had all happened to me and I was only overwhelmed by short, intense, but very pleasant emotions.

At the time it all seemed hard to penetrate because the contacts followed each other quickly and sometimes only lasted a few minutes.

Our next step was also an unexpected visit to our former neighbours from Schoofland, who have since become good friends. This too was a short visit, which was then filled with a very special task. As I perhaps wrote earlier, there was apparently another top mattress supplied with our other neighbour when we were already living in Spain. The company that made the wrong delivery did not want to send the mattress to Spain, so we were looking for a solution to get it to us for as little money as possible. With my creative mind, I came up with the idea of cramming into our already small rucksack, a vacuum bag and an extra large sturdy bag from Spain to make the mattress as small as possible to take with as extra luggage during our return flight. We had tried this at home for a while and it seemed to work. Nobody really believed that this would work out, except me. So at our ex-neighbours were promptly brought in the mattress, the vacuum cleaner brought out, and the three of us made the mattress as small as possible. It became a whole enterprise that Wim recorded on film. In the end we managed to get the mattress in the vacuum and in the extra bag in case the air would escape and the mattress would change back to its old, bulky shape. We could really miss this. When the mattress melted away under the vacuum pressure, it suddenly looked suspiciously like a huge package of drugs. My imagination ran wild with the thought that security at the airport might come to us for this and open the package, with all the consequences that it would be impossible to keep the thing under control and back in its original pocket to be able to take it back. I actually found it quite exciting. By the way, we have succeeded perfectly in taking the thing on the plane and getting it all the way to Spain. Mission accomplished!

In the evening we had arranged with the children to eat spare ribs in Antwerp. It was a super fun evening, busy chatting and catching up, being together, enjoying and laughing. I really enjoyed myself, and I consider myself the happiest person on earth. Only when I see them again  I experience that I really miss them. The only comfort is our whatsapp group that makes it possible to keep abreast of everyday things, making you less estranged.

Our last stop was with good friends who were so hospitable to provide us with a place to sleep. Here too it was a happy reunion, which, however, given the late evening hour of our arrival, was rather short. Despite the fact that the following day was May 1th and therefore a public holiday, they did not mind getting up at 6 am to provide us with an extensive breakfast, so that we would catch our plane in time. Ordinary, with a just-out-of-bed haircut in pyjamas at the breakfast table. We also experienced a real feeling of being at home, the feeling that we want to give our guests as well.

In the last few weeks we have come to the conclusion that we are blessed with five good friends – sometimes couples – and we are so thankful for that. These are indestructible friendships that we want to honour at all costs, and they are all people that we both hold very deep in our hearts as a precious jewel, each with its own splendor and shine. We don’t have to mention names, because they know very well that they belong to that select group of people. With this, sweet little gems, thanks for so many selfless expressions of pure affection.

We look forward to your visit!

Hasta luego

Annemie or Ana

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