Spain, busy times

The battery house, where I was part of the building team 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve written. The harddrive of my laptop had died, and repairs took several weeks. Everything takes more time here in Spain. It was an interesting experience being without my computer. At times I could feel my need for totally zoning out with watching a series, which I couldn’t do now. Feeling like a total junky in rehab. On the other hand, the past weeks have been physically intense, giving me this longing of not actively doing something. Looking at movement on a screen with sound, is exactly that. I have been helping with the building of our battery house, finalizing the baño and cleaning up a bit, while the summer has arrived and it’s just really warm, but really. José, our neighbour, was saying I’m starting to look like a proper Gaditana (person from Cadiz) with my worktan :,).

Even though we’ve tried to keep a more Northern eating pattern, with lunch around 1 and dinner around 7-8, in full-on summer, it turns out to be wishful thinking. With JuanCar and Koker I work till 2, then it’s lunchtime and too hot, so siesta time. Then at 6-7 it starts to get better and it’s either time to go to the beach to cool down in the ocean, or it’s a good time for a bit more work. It easily turns 9 o’clock and after dinner it is bedtime. Time is really flying by.

We’ve made some great progress over the past weeks! We now have power and running water! Unfortunately, the water is quite salty. Hopefully with time it will get better, but if we’re unlucky some salty rock was hit during drilling, which is contaminating the water. In the meantime, I hope that the fruittrees we’ve planted and the remains of the garden will be ok with the salt… Fingers crossed!
Most of the garden is looking a bit sad now, except for the tomatoes, which are happily ripening. It’s a shame though that I’m not allowed to eat them yet with my diet. I did have a little taste and they are really amazing! Juicy and very rich with a sweet flavour. The summer in Spain is really no time for real gardening I feel. The cucumbers, pumpkin, melons and courgettes have all perished. I think I sowed them to late and the ground wasn’t loose enough, preventing them to grow enough to be able to survive the summer. The watering also was challenging, since everything looks and feels so dry that I think I might have watered too much. But it’s the first year. It’s all a practice and we did get 1 cucumber, beetroot daily for over a week, chard Is looking happy and recently the tomatoes arrived. I guess it’s back to sowing again early September just before I leave for the Netherlands.

Happy tomatoes growing!

I’m really looking forward to seeing my family again then, and hope that there will not be a new lockdown before or during my trip. I also do feel a bit hesitant with traveling and going back. It will be the start of the new flu season and I always travel quite a bit when I’m back, which will now be a totally different experience I imagine. Here in Spain, we’re still in our little community bubble, where we haven’t had that much isolation issues, except for the beginning. In my mind I can be worried about the risks, but I actually feel quite relaxed. It’s all really mixed, since I know and heard of many ‘mild’ cases, which need months to recover. That makes me feel a bit worried that I really don’t want to get it. Afraid of what will happen to my kidney function. On the other hand, I really do not want to live in this fear, with distancing, because that also doesn’t feel right. There is this part of me that feels that, whatever happens, happens, and the only thing I can do is deal with that. But to not put myself in situations I would consider extra risky. Although in the end, I never know if the friend I’m hugging has been to a massive party with people that were ill, or is just more flexible with the rules than I think. So actually, I really don’t have a clue and chose to live a life that I find enjoyable, with respect towards other people’s needs.

Besides construction, I also finally mad time for some more fine art, on my little blue dress.

Since the beginning of my life sciences education, all the teachers always said that it is not a matter of IF a ‘bug’ is going to mess up our lives but WHEN. Especially with the way we’re living today.

It also makes me feel grateful for the way I’m living my life. The care I take in my healthy diet, albeit not necessarily voluntary in the beginning (but happy now :)). The outdoor, very active lifestyle and the more secluded life where I meet enough people, but more by choice instead of having to be in public transport or a busy city everyday.

With all the heat, it was very necessary to go to the beach every now and then, to cool down! Luckily it’s really closeby 🙂

Several weeks ago, while being busy on the finca, the environmental police came by. We don’t have a proper gate yet at the entrance, just a rope that kind of closes it off with a no parking sign. They came to check out what we were doing. They hadn’t called first, and just drove to the top of our finca. It felt really invasive, also because they put up this good-cop-bad-cop routine. We were in the middle of making some manholes for the water and power plans, trying to do everything in a way that is legalizable. Working with permits in Spain is an incredibly time- and money consuming journey, so the paperwork was not as it should be yet. Charlie also happened to be in Belgium, so I felt a bit helpless. The environmental men were not very happy with what they saw (even though it all looks gorgeous ;)). I think one saw the potential, but the other one really wasn’t. It can be quite overwhelming, the way the people with authority can act here in Spain. We’ve also had an encounter with the police on the first day of the corona alarm phase in March, where they also came across as quite aggressive and intimidating. It’s very different from what I’m used to in the Netherlands, where there tends to be a bit more space for a polite conversation. In the end, when Charlie had returned, they gave us a small fine for where we had put our generator and sawing machine, because of fire risks, but all the rest they said was outside their line of work. A lot of hassle over not so much, but definitely a not very nice experience.
I also paid a visit to the oficina DNI, where you can arrange your personal Spanish identification number (NIE). Again, with authority that felt fairly intimidating, but I got my NIE (!), which is the first step in actually moving here. I do have to admit that the idea of actually emigrating feels a bit overwhelming. A lot of doubts seem to creep in about the shoulds and shouldn’ts of life. Where I should have a proper job, and live in a proper house and not in a van and working on the finca. What a waste of my education. And what about my family and friends? Do I really, really want to stay here? The ups and downs I’d been experiencing with Charlie, making me doubt whether this is the place for me. Having to face my triggers and having to share them to get back to a more harmonious relation. Not wanting to have to look for a new place and feeling that the places I know I might be able to go, don’t feel quite right. The fear of having to start over again, either here or back in the Netherlands. Feeling like it would be too tiresome to do so. And then also wondering if that fear is stopping me from making a choice to leave, which could be the healthier thing to do.

In between all the busyness, our neighbour Mandi, asked if I was up for a little walk with the horses. While I was brushing Serena, I felt like I went 15 years back in time, when I was riding weekly. What a joy!

A few weeks ago, the doubt popped in my mind whether the friends I had made here, had actually become friends or were more ‘people you meet and whom leave your life again’. We hadn’t been in touch for quite some time, due to corona but also because I had thrown myself into the work on the finca. I really started missing some off-time with friends. I was also experiencing some challenges with Charlie, which all made me feel a bit sad and lonely. But then there was the belated 50th birthday party of Andrew, where we all met up for some ecstatic dancing and food. Serra, a friend, came to me and told me she felt like we needed to meet up again. The week after, together with Aude, the 3 of us had a lovely shared breakfast and were catching up again. The fear and loneliness I had felt, slowly let go again and made room for the appreciation of the beautiful people  I have surrounded myself with.

Solar panels and container pimping in the making!

Charlie had also been talking about how he wanted to have volunteers come over to help out. I’ve always been quite hesitant about it. We have a lot to do, but are not very organised yet. Charlie is more the organiser and I’m more the hands-on do-er. So, if we would have a volunteer coming over, I felt it would end up being my responsibility. He convinced me we would do it together, so I agreed. Julieta came over to stay in the tent and help us out. She paints and would make our container a bit prettier. In the beginning we didn’t have the paint yet, so I was working with her. We were levelling ground for the battery house and the water deposit. On one hand it was great to have help, because it really made a difference. It was also great to have some female energy on the finca. On the other hand, I was working more, because I had to prepare things and explain everything in Spanish. After a week I felt exhausted. Charlie had been quite absent, so after all, a lot was on my shoulders. We did find a new balance after a while and Julieta became independent when she could start painting.
One day we had a woodchipper over to clean up al the branches we had collected. I had been busy organising it all well, to make it easier to feed the machine. Then, on the morning the machine came, I found out that the neighbour, who built a nightmare of a avocado orchard (they need way too much water and it’s very poorly designed because all the rain water will run right of his finca on to our road), had shoved all his bushes and sand waste, from drainage he had dug, onto our finca. Right onto a part of my well organised banches. I got so pissed off, because we would need to get another machine to get these thick branches out of the way. We did our best to clean up as much as possible while the wood chipper started. I was putting all my rage into it, but felt my heart beating irregularly after a while. It made me realise that with my medication and condition, I need to take more care of myself. A confronting, but good reminder of taking a breath and stopping. Acting out my frustration wasn’t particularly helpful. It was an intense day, but we got it all done.

There are so many things happening, both within me, between me and others and on the finca. To me it feels like May or something, a very warm May, but still. I can’t believe more than half of the year has already passed (I can smell the Christmas trees :’)). What a journey of learning and applying so many new life skills 🙂

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