Happy little campers

Our first summer living in sunny Spain is one to be remembered.

First of all, it got hot way sooner than usual. April was a very normal month, with sunny days and rainy days – the first of May catapulted us into summer though. May still had some rain and cool evenings, but June killed most of our young plants (should have asked somebody to water them more often). It’s been too hot to get a lot of work done; although early mornings are usually fine, just a few hours are nothing compared to a normal working day.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things got done: we now moved to the maset (the little shed on our finca that Axel and a friend restored to a lovely small temporary dwelling), and do have electricity (working on solar panels) and running water (from our own borehole) and things are getting better and more organised every day. Our gas barbecue gives us excellent pizzas, grilled zucchinis and everything else we might want to grill on it; our “outside kitchen” now only features a tap that still needs some adjustments and a plastic tub for the washing up and laundry; our bathroom is functioning perfectly, with a shower (very hot water if you shower during the day) and a composting toilet. We are enjoying every minute of living “on the campo” (in the Spanish countryside) now.

Happy little campers, relaxing

Happy little campers, relaxing

We even had some friends coming over – and even friends who came and camped on our finca.

First there was our friend Pieter. Last winter he came over with his hammock/tent/sleepingbag thing, and slept on the finca while it was actually freezing at night. So now he came back in the summer – stayed in his hammock/tent (I think he left the sleeping bag part at home this time) and tried to survive the heat.

Then there was my eldest brother and his family – since small children (3 and 4,5 years old) were involved, they had their holidays at the beach, and came over for a day of checking out the area his big sister fled to. After seeing the house and having lunch, we took them to the beach of the La Pena lake; when it suddenly started raining, we drove towards Beceite and went for a walk in El Parrissal. It’s great to see how even such small children seem to enjoy the mountains – there are caves (dragon caves!), weird trees (that’s where the witches come together on their broomsticks) and even though the gnomes were hiding (or out working) on that day, we found plenty of proof they lived there.

Building the treehouse

Building the treehouse

My friend and sister in law Hendrike also came to visit us with her husband, 2 children and niece. The children were slightly older (7, 8 and 9) so this was a weekend of building a tree house, swimming in the river and playing around the tent (and of course a few walks in natural parks). They weren’t even gone yet when we got the company of our friends Lysander and Wilma and their children; Daantje made us pancakes for breakfast every day in between playing with and caring for the dogs – Ties worked on the treehouse some more and caught up on his reading… and of course there were many beautiful walks, swimming in rivers and lakes, long lunches in surrounding villages and happy moments.

Now our campers have been gone for more than a week, and the place felt big, empty and silent… just what the doctor ordered though, a bit of peace and quiet before the next batch comes in. Today, we’re welcoming or very fist volunteers: Michael and Steffi from New Zealand are travelling Europe and got in touch with us through workaway.info . We promised them many fun things to do (mostly digging and building stuff), and in exchange we pamper them, feed them and hopefully have them go home saying Matarranya is the most wonderful place they’ve ever visited.

So little time, so many things to do – there are quite a few people here just for the summer and we’d like to visit them all before they go back home (most of them have been working very hard at their land / house / other projects so it’s always good seeing the progress) – and also, August means fiestas in the surrounding villages. Most of them start around 11 or midnight and go on until the sun comes back up… it’s far too hot to party during the day! Posters are promising us nights Disco Movil, all sorts of competitions (many involving children and / or food, one mentioning cows) and of course many nights of music, local bands and lots of dancing. We’re not going to be bored this month.

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