Sometimes coming home is not as good as you hoped it would be. Coming back to the island however, it surely was. When I arrived last Wednesday by ferry early in the morning in Palma and my feet stepped on Mediterranean soil again, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Somehow I feel I belong to this soil.
As I passed the marina the sun was rising, a few men and women were running along the marina in the fresh morning air, early cyclists passed me by on their fast bikes. “No gracias,” I said to the taxi driver. I didn’t need one, I just wanted to walk and roam a bit. I have time, nobody was waiting for me anyway — except for the cats.
After a month in the quiet French countryside where I stayed moreless at one location all the time, I enjoyed the dynamics of a city, especially a city in the early morning when a part of it is still asleep. I entered Santa Catalina, a popular part of Palma, which has a creative vibe with its vintage shops and trendy, cute cafes where it’s possible to eat healthy and glutenfree tostadas.
I stayed in Palma the whole morning and took a bus which brought me to the village of Algaida later that day. From the village I walked home, which was long. As I walked home, the weather started to turn and the clouds were closing in. As I got closer, I couldn’t wait to see our cats again. I never left them alone for that long, but they were taken care of, foodwise.
Sad arrival home
A t first glance the cats looked confused, a bit upset even. Our shed was messy, no water, no food for the cats (probably they already ate everything). The garden overgrown by weed, our bathroom (which Dorus built for the two of us) dirty. In short: it felt sad to arrive home, it wasn’t good. The wife and daughter of our landlord moved to Asturias, the north of Spain, and I suspect he is busy with other things than pulling out weed. Times are uncertain right now and he has to keep his head above water. Suddenly I noticed how dark our home is. It felt depressing and heavy.
Howard’s country house in France, where we stayed, is just fantastic, so spacious and warm with wooden beams, a cozy fireplace and the bedroom Dorus and I stayed in, was huge! The kitchen has everything you need to cook delicious meals. It’s an old house — a former barn — and I adore these kind of houses with history and character. To me, these are the best houses.
Time for change
I think the change from this warm place to our dark, tiny shed was just too big. All of a sudden I realize I can’t stay much longer here, also because another tenant arrived to live here in a caravan in the garden with two little girls, his daughters (he will take over the shed when we are gone the 15th of December). It isn’t for long anymore, only one more month to go and we will move to our land and start creating our own home, just for us. No more being a guest at what is supposed to be home. I’m so over it. After almost two years (it began in Casita Verde) of being a guest somewhere, I can’t wait to have a home, a place which is ours and we take all decisions, nobody else. Where we are in control. I think for me that’s the most difficult part right now: not having control in relation to our housing situation. It has been a financially good solution and it was supposed to be temporarily, and it still is, but time has come for change.
In the meantime I make sure to leave the house every day and go out on my bicycle and enjoy the soft, sunny weather (the best now!). Cycling is my medicine when I’m alone. Bring my laptop and write somewhere where it feels light and I can leave the heaviness behind. The cats, especially Luna, is constantly around me when I’m home and is more affectionate than usually. Maybe she knows I’m not having the best time right now. She’s so adorable and it probably sounds crazy for some readers, but she’s my friend. And so is Liefje, our Amsterdam cat. Love them.
Our month in France has been wonderful and the Sustainable Living course a success, although we only attracted a small group of people. More people said they wanted to book, but they couldn’t travel or didn’t have the time. We were extremely lucky that we were able to have these great men and women on board and in these times of Corona, it isn’t an easy job to get people booked (we worked on that whole summer).
When I first met the participants, I felt immediately grateful for this group. We had a beautiful two weeks together. Most of the time, however, I was in the kitchen by myself preparing food. Some of the people weren’t vegetarians or vegans to begin with, so it felt so good to hear they didn’t even miss the meat and animal products as this is mostly the case when people just start to quit meat. I can say mission completed. Thank you so much!!
It was quite a challenge to arrange the materials needed for the course, but Vanessa, Howard and Dorus managed to get all of it (through market place, Howard’s friends and construction stores).
The shopping for the vegetables and fruit I did as much as possible at the local markets. And wow, it was expensive! (Two cauliflowers seven euros!). Such a difference with the vegetable – and fruit markets in Spain, but the people earn way less too in Spain; salaries here are extremely low.
My French was terrible though. Once at school I loved learning French and I wasn’t bad at it. But when you never practice a language, you really lose it. Only reading French went quite okay. Maybe in a next life as a Parisian, I will learn to use the words like Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour did – I (re)discovered and played their music when I was cooking and what a great music these people made! I remember my mum used to play Charles Aznavour at home, the French Sinatra. La Bohème is just one of his master pieces and I couldn’t stop listening to it.
It was special to experience the falling leaves and the colors of autumn again after quite some years in the Mediterranean where this change of season doesn’t exist. One day when I walked through the forest, right next to the house, I thought I heard raindrops falling down. It wasn’t, the leaves were making that sound. I stopped and looked to the sky. These falling leaves were so noisy for a moment, just surreal. I looked above to each of them, watching their fall. Never before I saw this remarkable rain of falling leaves.
Despite the autumn colors, the surroundings in France look quite grey, without any color. It was hard to imagine, a life in France, but I understand for our host Howard that he feels happy there. The people on the markets were super polite and friendly, addressing me with “madame” constantly. “Bonjour, Madame”. “Bonne journée, Madame”. The cashier in the supermarket waited patiently until I had put all groceries in my bags before she helped the next customer. I can’t remember the Dutch were that polite. Obviously life in the village differs from life in the big city, nevertheless it felt refreshing and welcoming.
France went in complete lockdown again. Yet, I was still able to travel by train to Barcelona. A very recommendable, environment-friendly, safe and economic way to travel (a ticket for only 80 euros). The true eco-warriors are Dorus and Vanessa though, as they chose to travel by bicycle. They’re still on their way to the south.
While in France I watched some videos on YouTube on my laptop and this video below suddenly popped up. I got immediately drawn in. This video is so incredibly well made with these actors in it. You can turn on subtitles of other languages, so you can understand what the judge has got to say. It was on my mind for days. I showed the video to the others and we were all breathless. Its message is incredibly sad. Really, animals, and children in need – the loyal innocents – they should deserve only but our love.
A quite unexpected note to — almost — end this blogpost, but somehow these true words showed up in this very moment.
The American dream
World events didn’t stop when we were in our small French bubble. Trump lost the US elections. The first woman (of color) as vice president in the American White House. Yes, it’s on the other side of the ocean. No, it isn’t my country, but it feels kind of good and positive and hopeful. Although my mum speaks of this lady, Kamala Harris, as a “leftish witch,” I do like this woman. She’s intelligent, charming, a true powerwoman. Her speech and her white suit made me happy. Kamala Harris is the realization of the American dream, and better.
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Next year Mallorca!