Being back in Spain turned into a less fun experience than I had imagined (still those expectations…). A few days before flying back, I had gotten a message from Charlie that rats had entered the van and had been eating cables around the engine. That felt like a massive bummer. It had been going so well with Lotje. All the way from Spain to the Netherlands and back this summer, without major issues. Passing the bi-annual check with small fixes and an indicator light bulb that needed replacement in France. Now it wasn’t the age of the van itself, but foreign invasion. In the end, it’s part of life in the campo. I don’t mind the fact that there are rats and mice living around us. I just don’t like them in the house… They had crawled between the wall of the van and the interior wall, and obviously around the engine. Fortunately, the fixing was doable, although they were quite some manhours to check the whole van. My starting battery was also drained, but fortunately it could be revived again.
The first week together with Charlie was also challenging. We all of a sudden were now living together in my van on his finca. We had spent time together in my van, but we always had our own spaces too. Now we don’t. Which also means, that I had to actually make space for him in my van, and not just a bit in the clothing cupboard. That turned out to be harder than I thought. All of a sudden, my van had stuff in it, that I didn’t always find particularly useful, but apparently now needed to be there. We also needed time to reconnect again and find our way in this new way of being together. Since we have both been really independent for many years, it was challenging to now be dependent on each other for living, putting extra pressure on our relationship. It was quite confronting for myself to notice that I find it easy to say that I want to share my life with him, but then actually making physical space for him was a much bigger challenge.
Work on the finca, to make it more liveable, also needed to get going. We needed to make arrangements for the cleaning of the finca (making a road, cleaning trees and clearing bushes). This kept us busy and prevented us from making time for each other and really sharing what was going on.
After about a week of dealing with rats and poor communication we picked up a kitten, to help against the rats. I have had a cat before, but I got him from a shelter when he was 8, so not much kitten experience. The idea of keeping her in the van also felt like quite the challenge. Everything had to happened so fast, because of the rats.
Charlie had found a guy, who had two kittens left from a litter that he couldn’t keep, because he had found out that he was allergic. They were supercute! On a Thursday we went there and decided to take the female kitten with us. I had been feeling emotional for a few days because of how we were doing and taking a kitten away from her mother, just brought me to tears. Projecting my own loss of my mother as a kid onto it and just feeling like an incredibly selfish person for taking such a small creature away from her mother, because we want to have a kitten. Utter selfish human greed.
The beautiful thing was, that this little one, turned us into two loving caretakers whose hearts also opened again towards each other. We called her Eki, which means sun in a Basque dialect. Luckily, we had been smart enough to visit the veterinarian before going home, because she was covered in fleas. Our first night was ‘fun’, with the first poo on the bed (after that it all went well) and the fleas in the bed. They’re itchy as hell and jumpy little buggers, but after 24 hours, they were all dead too. After a day, we started thinking that it might be a good idea to also get her brother, to give her better company. We went back on Monday and also him, Maki (named after a childhood hero of Charlie). It took a day for them to get used to each other again. It was great to see them play together and have Eki not be so dependent on our company. They can now really explore their cat lives together on this wonderful piece of land. The funny thing was that we met 9 months ago and we now have our two little ones :’)
Two days after we picked up Maki, Charlie had to go to Brussels for 10 days. His van was at the garage so we took Lotje to drive to the train station in San Fernando. The kitties went along. They didn’t like it at all at first, but soon got accustomed to the noise and the movement. On the way back, I wanted to pass by an animal shop to get a transport cage, which we didn’t have yet. As I drove to the parking, my gearbox stopped working. I went into the shop to get what I needed. Even though it has never worked, I kept hoping that when I came back, Lotje would be just fine. But no, I had to be towed again (just like the week before with the rats). I felt relieved to have a transport cage and that Maki and Eki didn’t go outside yet. But also frustrated that I was alone with two kittens and two vans in the garage while Charlie was in Brussels. Although at the same time also happy that we weren’t together in the van at the garage. Luckily, the towing company could bring me to the garage I always go to, instead of the nearest garage, which they tend to do. Charlie’s van was being checked there as well. Turned out my clutch disk was broken and it would take at least 5 days (including the weekend) before they could help me. So, my new temporary campsite was next to the garage… Fortunately, I could use Charlies van to move around and meet up with some friends, but I’d had better times. In the end, I was back on the finca just before I had to go to the train station again to pick Charlie up.
In the meantime, I had also received a message from my dad that the hospital wanted to test me for MRSA, which had been present in the department I stayed the night in October. When I’m back for the holidays I need to get that done, apparently there was no rush to have it tested, but it was a bit of a worry.
During two weekends there were gatherings at La Cuartilla with Andrew, David and Aude, my workaway place from earlier this year. They had bought another piece of land and wanted input on what to do with it. It’s a fairly steep hill with forest on the top line and bare, overgrazed land on the bottom line. The first weekend we gathered with a group and held a ceremony to ask and feel what the land and the spirits of the land needed. A ceremony where we spent time on the finca to feel what was there and to then gather and make masks of the spirit (either animal, element or physical things, like sand) that we connected with most and speak on behalf of it. It was a beautiful experience, where I really felt the liveliness of the new terrain and connect with the water even though it looked quite dry. The second weekend, 2 men from Tamera (a ‘healing biotope’ in Portugal) came to consult and share knowledge and experience. We looked at the current state of the land on the first day and the second day we explored all the possibilities of things that could be done on and with the land. We worked with the scale of permanence, which contains different categories, from climate and water/landscape to vegetation, soils and aesthetics. The higher up the scale, the more energy is needed to change it, but also the greater the impact on the land. Very educational and again, lovely to have been part of that experience. There is so much knowledge in this area, which makes me so excited to be and live here.
I do have to get used to the idea of telling people I live here now. It feels a bit surreal, but also like a massive gift. I’m learning now to network a bit and share with people that I am a bodyworker and yoga teacher, which has already made some people interested in what I do. I’m now also following yogaclasses again, mostly to learn the Spanish yoga language. Aude, who is also a yoga teacher has asked me to substitute for her while she is in Thailand in the beginning of next year. It feels like such a nice opportunity to share my knowledge here and get to know more people. Many seeds are being planted!
I’ve also found the courage to ask for help with my website, to get my online yoga practices going. Usually, I’m someone who wants to do everything herself, but this was turning into something I started to resent. It’s a process, but I hope we can get it up and running before the end of the year. Now I can focus again more on writing and making the content. Although at the moment, since Charlie came back, the work on the finca has started. This means that from 8 till 6 there is a guy here, working with a machine to clear bushes and make paths. The terrain keeps changing, so we keep walking around, deciding what needs to be done next and trimming trees where needed. We’ve also had help from Dave who is an arborist, helping us with cleaning of all the old Acebuche trees on the finca. He’s taught me how to work with a chainsaw. However, I still prefer the handsaws, because a chainsaw is just a massive murder machine. Just starting it can already give me mental pictures of severed limbs. But, after his lesson, with a main focus on safety, I do feel more confident in working with it.
The work on the finca has also been an interesting relationship practice, with both of us feeling tired at times. It’s a bumpy road, but I feel very happy to be here, with him, sharing, working outdoors, being part of the project, having a say in it, being listened to and exploring this whole process.