Spain & the Netherlands, returning home

The journey South, after saying goodbye to Charlie and the North of Spain, was quite quick. In the North, I had very much enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the mountainous scenery. Although with my van they had been quite the challenge. Lotje could have done with some extra horsepower… But we always managed :). I drove pretty much every day, on national roads, for about 4 hours, which is my max. After those 4 hours I’m tired and my ears and body are buzzing. It was a smooth journey and I noticed how happy I was at the incredibly quiet places I was staying for the night. Along the coast it had usually been quite noisy and busy, but now, I was mostly alone. I remembered how much I can enjoy peace, quiet and solitude. Especially when knowing that once I arrived in the South, the driving journey would be over and I would have a social life. I was also very much looking forward to that. The grin on my face growing bigger, as I drove into Andalusia and slowly starting to see the places I know. It felt like coming home.

The journey back. A storm was on its way as I was parking for the night. The sun was still out, but 10 minutes later is was hail, wind, rain and thunder!

When I arrived, I stayed with Carlos for the time being. We hadn’t seen each other in half a year. It was great to catch up again and spend some time together. Speaking Dutch, having movie nights and just being together. Helping him out a bit on his finca (a finca is a piece of land without a house, although he does have a yurt), with levelling the ground of the bathroom-to-be with a ground axe. Something that kept us busy for 3 days. A machine can do it in less than half an hour, but it felt good to do some hard, physical labour, getting sweaty and some blisters. It was very rewarding to see the area change. We would just have to remember, not to think of how much faster it could have been done. Although it all takes the time it takes.

I also visited, Charlie’s finca. It felt a bit strange to be there without him. And since it’s a small forest, I kept getting lost.
Charlies neighbours, whom I had met in spring and whom had bought their finca about a year ago, had been working really hard. Amazing to see what they had been able to do during summer, which is not really a climate to work in…
In Spain it is really normal to just go by and say hi. But for me it still feels very intrusive. I didn’t experience it much while growing up. And I still experience this believe system where I feel that I would be bothering people, which is the way I might feel if it were the other way around. A beautiful mix of nurture and projection. I also feel a bit insecure about my ability to have a decent conversation in Spanish, even though it has improved a lot.
In the end, they noticed me, came looking who it was and invited me over for a drink and a bit of catching up. It turned into a really nice chat. Mandy and José showing me around and explaining all that they had been up to throughout the summer. Me, sharing what I had been doing. This got us to bodywork and a project she had been working on. She works with horses and they have a several beautiful ones on their land. She had gotten together with 2 other women, both gestalt therapists, but Teresa also does coaching with horses and Patricia does family constellations. And now Mandy was asking if I wanted to be part of the team as a bodyworker, movement/yoga teacher. This got me feeling really excited! It’s exactly what I would like to do. Share my knowledge within a group of people from different disciplines to help create more awareness. All is still very preliminary, but the seed has been planted and enthusiasm is there. A few days later, I met with them and we had a really nice afternoon.

A session of coaching with Mandy’s beautiful horses.

Teresa gave me a coaching with horses session, which was a very interesting experience. I wanted to work on the theme of me working in Spain and how that would be in relation to and with Charlie. Should I try to do my own things and find places to teach or give massages? Or work more together with Charlie, on his forest-school project, in whatever way? During the session we talked and looked at how the horses reacted and the feelings that created. It’s a process that is quite open to interpretation. But we got to some new perspectives and possibilities of how I could see myself working in Spain. Both in an independent way with my online projects, but also the collaborations with Charlie and others. The openness to the idea of being part of Charlies’ forest school project reflected more harmony within how the horses were relating to each other, and also brought me a feeling of joy and curiosity. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all will unfold.

Before going back to the Netherlands for a few weeks for my parents birthday, hospital visits and seeing friends, I had decided to go to Madrid. Charlie was there with his family, because his brother was flying over form New York. This way we could spend a bit of time together in Madrid and travel back to Cádiz with his van, before I would be away again. It was a nice but intense weekend with lots of good food, where I got to meet Charlies brother and a few nieces, whom I hadn’t met yet. Everyone kept saying that we should visit the city centre and all the sights we had to see. We had done a little drive through it, when I had arrived, but to be honest, I don’t really enjoy discovering big cities too much. I like to see it a bit, admiring pretty buildings and nice parks. But in general, I find it a bit too busy and loud and prefer to be in nature. We did walk through the area where Charlie had lived when he was a kid. He shared some stories of that time, which I enjoy hearing much more.

While being back I also gave 2 lovely workshops. One in Rotterdam and one near Gent in a yurt. Sharing the Art of Not-Doing is such a joy!

After the weekend we drove home, via Granada, where we stayed the night and Sevilla. We didn’t have time to properly visit Granada, but that did feel like a nice city to visit. Not too big and overwhelming or too hot. To me, it just felt really comfortable. Sevilla, the next day, was a lot hotter and crowded. Charlie was interested in a second-hand yurt for the finca, which we could visit in Sevilla. Unfortunately, it wasn’t set-up, but it was good to be able to see the quality and how much material it is. Now, we have an idea of the size of van (really big…) we need to rent to be able to fit everything in for transportation to the finca.

Before I flew back, we could spend a day and a half in my van, which I had left with the neighbours. It was the first time that I wasn’t looking forward to going back to the Netherlands. Of course, I enjoy seeing family and friends, but the weather forecast, was incredibly rainy, and I started to get more nervous about the kidney biopsy that I needed to get, to know more about my kidney condition. I also felt so much excitement about everything that was happening in Spain and Charlie finally being back, that leaving just felt off. The worry of the biopsy only grew bigger when the doctor told me it involved an overnight stay in the hospital. It made me feel really lonely and scared. My idea had been to just go to the hospital with my dad, get local anaesthesia and the biopsy done, and then leave the same day. Easy peasy. But it turned out to be a procedure with risks of bleeding, since the kidney is well perfused with blood. Fortunately, my dear friend Eline, went with me to the hospital and stayed with me till the biopsy was done. I had an appointment at 9 in the morning, to test my blood to see if the biopsy could be done and to get an IV-line in as a precaution. The IV-line turned into a painful thing. Apparently, I have thick skin and rolling veins. The third attempt was a charm… The biopsy itself was scheduled for 2 in the afternoon. So, before that we had some proper time to catch up in the cafeteria, even though I wasn’t allowed to eat and drink anymore. At one, I was back in my room and the waiting began. Half past 3 a doctor came in, to tell me that the radiologist, who was supposed to do the procedure, had been called away on an emergency. He couldn’t tell me how long it would be and if it would happen at all today… That felt depressing, I wasn’t in the mood for an extra day in the hospital. Thankfully, around 4 they came to pick me up. I never thought I would be so happy that a biopsy would be done. I was driven to the procedure room in my bed, very luxurious :). The local sedation was very uncomfortable, but after that it felt fine and it was quickly done. However, during the procedure I just had to cry. I felt so vulnerable lying on my belly, while the doctor and assistant were working, in a darkish, chilly room. I felt my body’s stress response, with cold-sweats, shivers and the tears rolling down. The biopsy went fine and the doctors did well and were kind, but it was an intense event. Afterwards I also just needed to cry and my body was shaking, from the worries before, the vulnerability during and the relief after. I was happy Eline was there for support. For the next 3 hours I had total bedrest, on my back, to prevent bleeding. Fortunately, I was allowed to eat again and the food turned out to be surprisingly good :). The next day, everything looked good and my dad came to pick me up to go home again.

The lavender hospital gown does look pretty good on my, although I hope to never wear it again.

In the beginning, I was tensing up while walking. The biopsy area was sensitive and it felt really uncomfortable to breathe deeply, as if there was a stick stuck in my body. But with a few days it slowly got better. It was an interesting realisation, to feel my body, breath and tension I could hold, and actively reminding myself to soften again. Noticing how quickly I would tense up again and breathe superficially, creating a pattern I prefer not to hold on to.

A week later the results were in, confirming the IgA nephropathy the doctor has been thinking of. An autoimmune condition that is damaging my kidneys and cannot be fixed. For now, it looks stable and I feel really good, so no worries yet, just regular blood and urine tests. It feels weird to have this, especially since (thankfully) it’s stable and not affecting my day to day life. Time to get more knowledgeable and read up on how it works exactly and if there are any ways to prevent further damage.

It’s been an intense few weeks, with lovely reunions with friends and family, too much rain and being in a hospital as a patient. I have to say I’m really looking forward to returning to Charlie, Spain and the adventure that awaits me there!


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