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Wake me up when it is all over…

24 May, 2020

Lavinia, saturday 23 may 2020

 

Last Monday we finally entered phase 1 of the de-escalation plan! Normally, each phase would take at least two weeks, but not so. It was a great relief that we could open up again. However, it took a lot of effort to find out what conditions were attached to it. Every week we spend hours surfing to the most official sources to find out all the details. Normally we have to get this information from our bookkeeper, but this week he totally failed. We didn’t get any communication. And this while there were a lot of changes compared to the previously reported measures for Phase 1 in the previous week. And so we had no choice but to look for ourselves, because we want to do everything we can to abide by the rules. It is too important, both for us and for our guests. It suddenly turned out that you could still use the full capacity of the rooms, and that your terrace could be occupied for half, provided the two meters of social distance. But the main stumbling block was that neither the swimming pools, nor the wellness may be used by the guests. Who wants to go on a naturist holiday under a shining sun with a temperature of 28 degrees in the shade, where the nice cool water of the swimming pool constantly challenges you to dive in, and you’re not allowed in… Not me in any case, nor any Spaniards. Again we had to adjust our promotion, and to be honest, we had to report that the swimming pools could not be used. The whole week there was a lot of interest and a lot of chat with Alicantinos (=residents of Alicante). There was even a specific family who wanted to book, but at the last moment they decided not to do so ; “no piscina =no reservación”… (no swimming pool = no reservation). However, we can’t give in to this, and we have to see with regret how these people might book with colleagues who dare to open their swimming pool anyway.

But, as you already know us a little, we don’t just sit around and get the best out of every situation. We were able to continue working on the website -which is still in full transformation-, start tidying up our technical room and turning it into a real workshop with workbench for my projects with pallets and all kinds of waste wood, maintaining our vegetable garden, having a nice dinner, floating on an air mattress in the swimming pool -because we’re allowed to do so 😊-, and you name it. By the way, this week there was a wooden pallet, you know of that enormous heavy one, that suddenly found it necessary to fall over on my big toe. Maybe it was because of my enormous rudeness and haste, I’m almost sure Wim is convinced of that. He may comfort me under the guise that it could happen to anyone, but in himself he thinks – rightly so – that it happens to me just a little more often.  For a moment it turned black in front of my eyes, and I feared a break. It hurt a lot, but I didn’t feel like going to the emergency room and waiting there for hours. So in the meantime I was still limping around, because I can’t sit still with my restless mind. As a result, by the evening I not only have a thick toe, but also ditto swollen foot, and the pain forces me to rest anyway.

Phase 1 here also means that suddenly an enormous amount of freedom is added. We come from complete quarantine, from which we could never leave home. And now all of a sudden the hairdressers are open again, albeit with the necessary protection and continuous disinfection after every customer. Never before have I enjoyed the head massage so much while washing my hair. Actually, I don’t like going to the hairdresser, but now it was a gift from heaven! Strange how something as banal as ‘your hair that can’t be folded’ because the haircut is completely out, can suddenly become so important. The only advantage was of course that everyone walked in like a ‘Beatle’, and you didn’t have to show yourself in public at all. A joke my hairdresser apparently didn’t really understand. Didn’t she know The Beatles, or would it just be my Spanish? Maybe the latter.

I actually thought it was quite funny to know that they couldn’t get their hair cut at that time in Belgium. It took me a while to challenge myself and make people jealous with my short cut, but I didn’t do it anyway. We challenged them with something that was much further in the future for our ex countrymen, the Belgians… Tuesday we had dinner on a terrace in the middle of the city. Yes, we did! On a terrace, with everything on it. With all the tables neatly set two meters apart, with the delicious Spanish chatter around us. I was excited like a little child going to a birthday party, or even more, like a young girl going to a party for the first time. Loudly chatting along with the music on the way to the restaurant, the more fake, the more fun and the more exuberant.

Live karaoke : wake me up when it is all over

I never realized what a luxury it was before corona to just get in the car and go wherever you want. How simple things can suddenly make life so beautiful, and make you enjoy yourself. I am convinced that they won’t be able to take this regained freedom away from the people, here and nowhere. Not for corona’s sake. I think people would rather just learn to live with it than have to go back to the lockdown of the past few months. This isn’t human, really. People would be out on the streets, protesting, refusing to go to jail any longer. By the way, there were demonstrations in Madrid, I read.

Photo by Spanje Vandaag.nl

But who am I to make any statement about this? After all, I’m not a sociologist, I can only speak from my personal feelings. The limited freedom I now taste makes me yearn for more. I enjoy every human contact, to be able to invite people back, to be a normal social being again. It is the nature of the human being that is not made to be alone. Otherwise the word “loneliness” might never have been invented.

We had our cleaning couple come back to prepare the villas for possible guests. In the beginning the atmosphere was very gloomy because they mainly clean in the catering industry, they have had no income during the past quarantine period, nada. Also no government support, because they just did not comply with the rules. That was really distressing. The always positive and cheerful duo, who otherwise whistled and cheerfully arrived at our domain, now looked pale and downcast. It touched me deep in my heart, and I just wanted to give them a big hug, but of course this is not allowed. My whole body resists this unnatural way of communication for me. Especially here in Spain I had really found my thing, physical contact with my interlocutor : an arm on the shoulder, two greeting pads, an honest cuddle, a friendly touch of the arm …

I hope with all my heart that corona doesn’t kill this, that this won’t be our future. I don’t know to what extent you can change an entire culture to the ‘new normal’ as they so beautifully express it. New isn’t always good. If I compare life before corona here in Spain with the cooler north, it is the way of dealing with each other. Not only the climate here is much warmer, but also the people. The human contacts are real contacts, here people still live together. People come outside every day to meet each other. In the morning, terraces are crowded with people drinking a cup of coffee with each other before work. In the afternoon a lot of Spaniards go out for a bite to eat. Everywhere you go it is crowded, there is loud chatting, there is ‘life’, real life. In Belgium I had the feeling much more that people lock themselves away to be left alone, because they have to de-stress. They crawl behind the TV or the computer to lose themselves in that virtual or fantasy world. People-to-people contacts are central here. That’s my feeling. Maybe not everywhere, but that’s how I experience it. And I embrace this incredible wealth with all my heart.

Our cleaning couple -Marta and Sergio- came every day to clean one villa, which they do sublimely by the way. It was nice to see how they returned to their old self towards the end of the week. They whistled again from behind the vacuum cleaner, jokes were made again, in short, the atmosphere was back to normal. It also gave us the opportunity to get to know each other a bit better, because now there was more time for it. The first day Marta arrived with a huge dish of delicious cakes and cookies, and the next day Sergio had the most delicious chicken wings with him. We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t promptly invite them to an apero moment to enjoy the chickens together. It turned out to be a lovely get-together, and they clearly enjoyed this afternoon. When we wanted to give them part of a tip we got from the last guests in March, they didn’t want to accept it as such. Sergio wanted us to use it to buy the ingredients for paella, so he could come and prepare it here tomorrow. I am really looking forward to spending our Sunday afternoon with them. I would love that they could enjoy a little bit of the outside air which they can use very hard after two months in their little apartment. For us this is a bit of holiday, sunshine, good food and nice company…

I would even completely forget that outside corona there is also Lavinia in all its beautiful facets, like our unique garden. Of course, we live outdoors all the time, so we already have a nice tan, streak-free of course – an advantage of a naturist lifestyle. Of course, because we can now live at a much quieter pace by being alone here, we also have all the time we need to enjoy all that beauty around us. Last year we had the great deadline of our opening, which made us much less aware of that. Now there is only nature around us. Actually, I was never really a ‘nature person’ as such. I did enjoy it, but mostly on holiday. Now holidays are my home. I have become a real nature fanatic, just like Wim. Like a madman he photographs every flower, every butterfly, every special insect. Together we enjoy our flowers, shrubs, plants, cacti, fruit trees that you see change every day. Lovely when you suddenly discover that two butterflies are doing a beautiful love dance on our Bougainville bush. What would never have occurred to us before, now happens automatically. When one of us suddenly sees such a scene sprouting up in the corner of his eye, the conversation immediately stops to admire this spectacle together.

Nothing is important enough to talk about at that moment. You can always resume a conversation, but you don’t see this dance every day, so we like to drop everything for this miracle of nature.  Although I have to admit that afterwards we just lost the thread of our conversation 😉. But who cares? I may sound a little ‘goat woollen socks’, but I don’t care, I’m soul happy about it. I already told you we started a vegetable garden. I’d never done it before, seen it from home a lot, but friend Google helps us out a lot. We have a lot of standing, and the vegetables and herbs are doing very well. I didn’t like it in the old days, and didn’t understand what appealed to people. It just seemed like a lot of work to me, when I saw Daddy taking out weeds or digging up the earth again, and Mummy spending hours cutting and washing vegetables to freeze. Now all of a sudden I understand. Although it’s nothing really, it’s so satisfying to see that the seeds and the plants you put into the soil start to grow like crazy, get flowers and eventually grow into mini-vegetables very slowly. I find it extremely interesting to see the development up close. To see those cute little courgettes and peppers grow a little bigger every day. In the meantime I have sown and planted a lot more. What can I enjoy the delicious crispy lettuce and spring onions that I see ‘living fresh’ on my plate, as we say in West Flanders. To be honest, I have to say that nature catches up with us a bit. To put it in rather plastic terms: I actually have to look for the vegetables among the lush weeds. Shame on me. But lately my back, shoulder and elbow don’t want to go along so well, so the work without end what weed weeding really is, only progresses very slowly. That’s why we switched to plan B. The plan of the sloths. Yesterday I diligently started to weed some weeds first and then cover the ‘clean’ part with black plastic. It’s quite a monk’s job to very care

fully put the plants – leeks, peppers, spring onions – through the hole in the plastic to give the vegetables light and air. I hope this plan works, and that the weeds just die due to lack of light. At least the growth should be slowed down a bit, shouldn’t it? The vegetable garden is 20 m², so there is still some work to be done. The idea that we will soon be able to serve organic fruit and vegetables to the guests, I think, is a very nice prospect. Let’s get on with it in our creative and amateurish way. We’ll manage. In any case, I got another unexpected hobby. Thank you, mom and dad for giving me this when I was young. 😊

You see, whatever situation we’re in, enjoyment is at the top of our bucket list, and maybe it’s all there is at the moment. That’s all I need to be happy. Enjoying each other and everything and everyone around us, near and far.

Viva España !

Hasta luego, hopefully in Phase 2 by then!

Ana

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