Best of both worlds
Finally I feel the energy to write a new column. It is now January 24, 2021. The last column was almost a year ago.
I wonder where to start. What happened in this year is beyond description. So let’s have a brief look back to April 2020. From now on I will regularly write a column about life here in our beautiful valley.
The transfer of our house in Restabal was on April 30, 2020. Still very much restricted by the first lockdown we drove to the notary with a police certificate, our own pen, our NIE number and passport. More than four hours later, the house was officially registered.
A few weeks after the transfer, our project manager passed away unexpectedly. A sad situation for his family. And we had a new challenge; renovating a house in a country with a different culture, different customs, with a language that we do not speak optimally and without a project manager. We were immediately thrown in the deep end and partly because contractor Pablo’s wife Guiomar speaks good English, we agreed. The renovation would start at the beginning of August.
In the meantime, Corona took over the world more and more. Lockdowns came and went, doubts and disbelief took hold after everyone had shown solidarity to the measures in those first weeks.
Corona disrupted our plans to go to the Netherlands for a few months in the summer. In July, we flew back and forth briefly to celebrate the graduation of our youngest son. Fortunately, two of our sons came our way with their girls in August and September.
The “C” word exposes gaps in relationships with a great deal of clarity and speed. Can you still be yourself? Can you stay connected even if you think differently about certain things? Allow the other to be different. With us, such a sad process took place in a long friendship. Cees left in a nutshell to the Netherlands at the beginning of August to arrange things around it.
That also meant that the contractor only started at the beginning of October. About three months later, the house was completely transformed. The new lockdown unfortunately causes a delay in the delivery of materials. We hope to be able to move around the end of February.
Just before Christmas, we held a small meeting with the construction team. We had heard the horror stories about renovation in Spain beforehand. And of course we had also looked at “Ik vertrek” (a Dutch TV series about people moving abroad). Despite that, we started working with Pablo's team with confidence. Cees gave his first speech in Spanish to thank the men for their unbridled efforts, practical solutions and flexibility. Nothing but praise for this team. “Lost in translation” became the phrase we used the most in recent months. It resulted in hilarious situations. The disbelief of the men about those crazy Dutch habits of wanting large windows, open spaces and especially no plinths in the house. The desire to round out the corners of the house were also met with a lot of hilarity. To the question: "is that possible", Pablo's answer is invariably: "todo es possible en Granada". In practice, he turns out to be able to deliver on that. On Monday morning we have work meetings with homemade cake and coffee to at least strive for a schedule. Yesterday we stood with Julio, our carpenter, looking at the wood that has been delivered for the windows. Franchi, the blacksmith, makes our Mallorquinas and Sergio constructs the kitchen. It is a relief to work with passionate and traditional craftsmen.
We met our dear neighbours Maria and Nicolas. In the summer there was regularly a crate of vegetables from their garden at the door. Nicolas patiently explained to us how the aceqias (water supply) worked. When we are desperately looking for a solution for something, no effort is too much to help us. Another neighbour offered to clear weeds in our yard. He therefore wanted to clear the 55 orange trees. We just didn't know what to do with it. So everyone is happy.
Restabal has two supermarkets and there too we received a warm welcome and the owners offered help. There is a bank, pharmacy and now the newly renovated bar is again full of locals and extranjeros. Clive lives across the street; the English neighbour we still haven't met. Every now and then we hear the roar of his Ferrari or Porsche driving him to his race track in Gaudix. All in all, a special mix of neighbours. During the long evenings the starry skies are beautiful. In the spring, the garden is buzzing with all the bees that feast on the nectar of the oranges. And again, neighborhood cats are finding their way to our house. Twice a day the herd of goats passes by. If the lockdowns allowed it, we could be found on the beach in the summer. In the late afternoons we take our walks. The ski season has now also opened and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada are covered with a thick layer of beautiful white snow.
It feels as if we have found our place in a mix of “the good old days" and the harsh reality of 2020.
What we miss are our children, family and friends in the Netherlands. Our favourite restaurants, a movie at Lantaren het Venster or a special shop. We trust that we will soon be able to travel freely again and alternate our life in Spain with our life in the Netherlands and thus connect "the both of best worlds". Should life have other ideas about this, we will seize the day and adapt.