May in Arens de Lledo

Yes, that’s right – we went back to Matarranya, but this time we stayed in the neighbouring village of Arens de Lledo. Not really in the village though – the big house we rented (called “Mas Terry” after its owner) was located in the middle of olive and almond fields and featured a fascinating view of Els Sports… we could completely imagine ourselves living in a similar spot (but completely different house) in one year’s time. Patience is a virtue! As promised, I’m now going to bore you with all the little things we did when we were there… Tuesday, April 29th: we left Amsterdam by car at around 18:00 – Axel, me, Jinx (the dog) and Andrea, a passenger we got through BlaBlaCar. If you don’t know BlaBlaCar yet, please check it out; it’s a great way to find (paying) passengers when you’re driving long distances, or to find a ride when you want to go places… Anyway, we stopped at the vet’s clinic in Belgium to get Jinx’s medication, got ourselves dinner at Lunch Garden, and were on our way for good. Wednesday, April 30th: after dropping Andrea off in Barcelona (we regretted it a little after, as we lost 1,5 hours that way), we drove to Arens. Tried out most of the little sandy roads between Calaceite and Arens, but found the right one at last. After a shower and unloading the car, we were all ready to go to our favourite tapas bar, Sisquet in Valderrobres. There we met with David, and also with Lars; Lars’ parents Hans & Loes usually give us a roof to sleep under when we’re around. It was a good night, and after that we slept like roses…

Olives & Mountains

Our finca (piece of farmland) is now looking greener than ever

Workplace

Working from the house in Arens

Thursday, May 1st: I spent the morning working (didn’t finish before we left), while Axel tried to catch up on some sleep. After that, I took a walk to meet our temporary neighbours Dorraine and Mats, and their WWOOF‘er Hans; they have a wonderful finca on which they want to build their dream: Entre Almendros. We also went to see our own finca, and it was almost as beautiful as last year in May; we did have the trees pruned though, so some of them looked a little sad. It will be better next year though.     Friday, May 2nd: after breakfast, we hurried to the village of Lledo to find (after waiting, trying to reach people and walking around in the sun for more than 2 hours) that nobody else would turn up for the appointment. Ah, Spain! Our afternoon was a little more productive, as we drove to Alcaniz for groceries for the rest of the week. At night, Axel made us a feast for two and we got to enjoy the peace and quiet of the campo (the Spanish country) at night…

Entre Almendros

View from the bedroom

Saturday, May 3rd: not sure about what we were getting into, we went to the “Feria de San Pol” at the ermita in Arens. Turns out this is a day where every family (and a group of friends) finds itself some space around the ermita, sets up a long table and a lot of chairs, and starts a cooking fire. We were invited by our friend Monique who turned it into a great international get-together; apart from local people, there were people from the USA, Great Britain, Holland, Australia, and probably a few others I didn’t talk to. And of course there were Belgians – Kathelijn and Peter, and Veerle and Patrick who turned out to be from the same village as I am. Sometimes the world is so small… Even though all we brought was a bottle of wine, we were welcomed into the party and had some wonderful things to eat. Barbecued meat, all kinds of salads, tortilla like I’ll never be able to make it – and don’t get me started about the desserts, there were cupcakes and brownies and the best cheesecake ever. This definitely counted as a good day!

Feria de San Pol

Feria de San Pol

Cute sheep!

Cute sheep!

Sunday, May 4th: We spend a few hours at the yearly market in Valderrobres. We met up with Kristin & Sigfredo and their family, and saw lots of animals – the sheep dog show, goats, horses and ponys, and loads of sheep. Even cute sheep! In the afternoon, we were invited to a BBQ with our temporary neighbours… We got to know a lot of new people (just writing them down here so I won’t forget them: there were Jaimie and Mel from the UK, Marcel and Hannalies from the Netherlands, Ferran and Carmen from just around the corner, and our hosts of course). Had the best marinated pork ever, several kinds of self-baked bread and salads, and afterwards a brownie with cranberries to die for… What’s more, all food just tastes better when you get to eat it on a warm day, in the shade of an very old olive tree. At night, we went to pick up our friend Bram who flew in from Toulouse; he took the train from Barcelona so we picked him up in Mora… after eating some of the leftovers from that afternoon, we slept like roses – again.

Cambrils playa

Cambrils playa

Monday, May 5th: we drove to Cambrils to meet with the accountant. Had a very good meeting, and a walk on the beach afterwards. Not a bad way to start the week! After that we drove back to Matarranya, but not without having lunch on our way, in the restaurant on the way between Horta de San Joan and Prat de Comte. We ordered all kinds of stuff we never heard of, and had a very good meal! In the afternoon we saw a swimming pool installed at Mas de Caballero (that’s in Cretas, also quite close to where we’re building) and had a meeting with our architect, Manel. He had prepared a thick book for the building permit application, and we got a copy of that… together with the good news that town hall had already approved of our plans, and they were now on to Teruel. Fingers crossed, we should know more in about 2 months! That is, if nobody decides to take a vacation, get sick or just do something else instead…

This is what I call good parking skills

This is what I call good parking skills

Tuesday, May 6th: in the morning, we met with Maria Jose (the mayor of Lledo) and with Jose Ramon (the shopkeeper) to get more info about houses for rent in the village. We’re planning on renting a house during the building of our own home; this way we’ll get to be close to the action whenever we want to. We also took a few hours to explore our finca once again; we needed to show it to Bram of course, and Bram and Axel undertook to prune our fig tree with their bare hands. Real men 🙂 After lunch in Cretas, we went to visit the castle in Valderrobres. Which was closed of course – and so were the shops, so we just roamed the small and cat-filled streets of the old city. At night I went to meet my cousin, Nathalie; we usually meet once every 5 years but since I had seen on Facebook she was doing a road trip, I invited her over. Best idea ever, it gave us a chance to reconnect a little. Wednesday, May 7th: we went to the bank – the manager is probably going crazy with us, we’re always asking him for things last minute. O yes could you do this and this? Sorry need it now because we’re leaving again tomorrow morning… of course, this rarely works. But we still try! Back at Mas Terry we met Mike and Maarten, two Dutch guys who’re starting a guesthouse with lodges not far from where we are. It’s going to be called El Mundo Verde and we’ll be following their adventures from close by… At night, we took Bram and Nathalie to eat at Sisquet. Great tapas, nice company, and a little wine of course… we had a good night. On Thursday, May 8th, it was time to leave again. After visiting the house we’d really like to rent in a few months (now anxiously waiting for an e-mail from the owner!), we said goodbye to Nathalie and loaded all our stuff into the car again. Thursday night we had dinner in Ramonville (near Toulouse) and spent the night at Bram’s place in Albi; on Friday we met Sandrine in Salles, before leaving again for Amsterdam.

We’re so sad to leave every time, but as always thankfully we’re able to say we’ll be back soon!

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