Old and new, for GINB the start of the twenty-eighth year...
After the most successful edition up till now of our Christmas market we were forced, by circumstances and my obsessive-compulsive disorder to only drive on Sundays, to stay in Belgium for one more week and we left on Sunday the 17th of December at 4:30h for Hof Rosa Canina to pick up our dogs who had enjoyed their “Christmas holiday” there. Even though it was still night for our late sleepers they were wide awake, and they crowded around, after having answered the call of nature, to jump in the van. Christel, who got up to assist us, waved us goodbye and 10 minutes later at 5:00h sharp we drove onto the motorway where much to my disappointment, we were not alone. From Kortrijk on many French, after a night out and some trying dangerously to reach the lane, returned home and shared the motorway with more trucks than I would like. Anyway, it was all in all a quiet ride and after breakfast in our usual Aire St.Léger we drove to Paris. As we approached the Charles de Gaulle airport the sun appeared above the horizon, and it started to dawn. With the view on the runways, we could admire the planes hanging in the morning air that were queuing to land and every few minutes were coming down on the runways above our head. It is always an impressive scene. As we were driving onto the ring the weather gods decided to lower their fog curtain and instantly, we drove in a thick cloud pack. Till Bordeaux we drove in a rapidly changing decor of thick fog or bright blinding sun that tried to get through. It is extremely tiring… Once we passed Bordeaux the curtain was raised, and we drove under a blazing sun till Castets where we finally could stretch our legs and paws. We were 1000 km farther and drove 12 long hours. A long boring ride that was only interrupted by 2 short sanitary stops.
Somehow, the dogs as well as I had since long already accepted that Dirk had only one thing in mind which is to drive the entire route as much and for as long as possible with as few stops as possible… When after the pleasant interruption and the leg stretching intermezzo, we registered at the reception lady we learned that the hotel would be closed during the entire month of January… The instant panic was eased by the news that the newly built hotel next door owned by the same people was open and she would ask if we could park our van on the fenced parking lot!! It was a kiss in the hail of bullets or a plaster on the wound because there are few hotels in this area. Anyway, in the evening we went to La Tchanka to eat what was available for “The Belgian veterinarians”, as they called us. Once we were back in our room the air conditining did not work yet and I called the reception. The lady brought us a tiny electric heater and offered us another room because after we told her our Beringen hotel adventure she did not want us to suffer from cold… Because we absolutely did not want to change rooms, I kindly thanked her for the offer. Bad idea… The next day we dragged ourselves under the same irritating conditions with thick fog and blinding sun through the last 600 km and we arrived at 17:00h in Casa Belgica. We were all exhausted. Anyhow, tired, or not, knowing Dirk he should and would unload the van. My wardrobe must be back in the closet and the suitcases emptied; the pc’s installed etc.…etc.… There was no end to it. In the evening I called Marie-Carmen, but she was not home, and I left the message that we were back “home”. She would not have much news, there was no room for any more galgos because after the hunting season the shelter was and still is full. The day after she reaffirmed the sad fact during a visit.
Saturday the 23rd of December 2023
After one day rest, we must go shopping, sigh… We must buy food and drinks and of course extras for the holidays. It is terrible because Hypercor was already in Christmas- and New Year’s modus and in all areas, we were overwhelmed with the “tastiest” offers. Amongst all these delicious things there is nothing special for vegetarians. In Spain vegetarians are still strange birds especially in a restaurant, in most of them you are viewed as an intruder. Anyhow, in the adjacent Xanadu shopping center where the first sales had already started it was even worse. The shops were overcrowded and the clothing racks full of party cloths, and other beautiful things were plagued by shoppers who, if necessary, were prepared to fight. Many visitors were carrying big bags of clothes half of which or more they would return, return or exchange is a tradition in Spain, and it is pure horror for those who are behind the “return” desk at the cash register. You cannot imagine anything more horrible. But none of that for us. We spent Christmas as always with our dogs in “peace”. They had their own “Christmas menu” and a customized dessert to prepare the poor still ignorant souls for the coming fireworks, that was certain. And indeed, even before midnight the first bangs started. The older dogs did not like nor approved, and they were crouched in their donut. The youngest ones, on the contrary, walked outside to look what was happening and they even dared to protest to the colored light arrows that flew over and then exploded with a deafening bang. The youth of today, right? It took more than an hour before it was calm again and before our “slipper heroine” and relentless kisser Loulou Babalou, the Bull Terrier (the breed which in all literature is supposed to be one of the most dangerous dogs) was back to her senses and pressed herself against us for reassurance.
Wednesday the 3rd of January 2024
Oof!!! It is over… As it should, the new year in Casarrubios del Monte started even before midnight with impressive fireworks worth a big city. While Dirk and I, and the scared dogs wished each other a happy new year we heard above our heads whistling, cracking, and obliging deafening bangs followed by a rain of colored stars and stripes... The hellish noise lasted more than 2 hours, the successive fuses were launched from most of the “Calypo Fado” gardens, our urbanization, and scared the hell out of our dogs and all lifelong outside living, scared barking dogs. Our new neighbors, 2 tiny young white woolly dogs who, since their arrival 2 weeks ago, were just like their fellow sufferers day and night outside in solitude, were desperately crying for help, help, warmth and comfort that would never come. They would have to live for life in two small doghouses in the enclosed front garden. Also, the poor galgos in the more distant shelter would fear the loud bangs that remind them of the hunter’s gunshots from their past life. They were constantly in my thoughts, and I wished them fervently that also this year a lot of people would reflect on their sad fate and proceed to adoption. Around 2:30h a last fuse exploded with a loud bang. Thereafter apparently the money was gone and the village, were Christ did not pass yet, fell back into silence forgotten and especially indifferent. It can hardly be otherwise because I am sure that not many inhabitants have the intention to talk to his or her neighbors in the coming year. They are more likely to continue the trend of the past twenty years and watch and ignore each other from behind their high fenced houses.
Anyway, as usual we did have good intentions. Almost the same as previous years that were also vain intentions as the past year was as stressful as the previous one and we were as worried and angry and nervous. Although, one thing I had planned during the disaster flight to Belgium, which is that I will never again fly alone. This stressful and exhausting era had passed. After about 15 years having been dependent on third party service and having missed 2 flights with many other problems it is enough. I mean it!! With this “inspired” thought in the back of my mind reality comes back and this reality is that today we must go shopping again. We were already a day late Dirk said, so… Pff, 2024 is no different than 2023 I thought. The roads were busy, terribly busy. When we took the exit Xanadu/Hypercor in a traffic jam I felt like returning but duty calls. The weekly stock had to be replenished. When we parked a dozen people were entering the shopping center loaded with bags. The opposite world Dirk said instead of coming out with bags they enter with bags. “Returners, exchangers” I replied shuddering at the thought. Weird but fortunately we would not have to worry about it. We only must go to the food area, and it was almost empty. Here also the money was gone. So far, the new year.
May I again take the opportunity to wish all adopters, members and sympathizers and their beloved ones a Happy 2024!!