Spain update September 2023

7 September 2023
4 daagse v d ijzer

Thursday the 7th of September 2023

In the past months with temperatures of 40°C to 48°C, a scourge for humans, animals, and nature that before our eyes languished away and not yet called for water, we in vain begged daily for rain.  Well, in the meantime we got rain… Last Saturday it started to rumble in the mountains and slowly but surely clouds were forming in the sky.  At first “sheep clouds” that changed to light grey and joined together but unfortunately not a drop of rain fell. Before we went to bed Dirk and I stood looking up, surrounded by our dogs who wondered what could be seen there, and noticed that not a single star was seen in the sky which increased our hope for a little wetness. Around 3:00h at night it started to rumble louder, and the louder thunder was accompanied by modest lightning bolts.  After having listened and looked for an hour our patience was rewarded, and the first drops fell on the van that was parked in front of our bedroom window, which is the ideal sound box. Unfortunately, not for long because the few falling drops evaporated immediately.

When at 7:30h we got up the light failed yet to pierce the threatening clouds and there was a strange atmosphere in which now and then a few drops fell. There was a dark-grey purplish sky above our head, and it was silent, not one bird was heard or seen, not one leaf moved.  It felt like nature was holding its breath for what was coming. It was calm before the storm which, around noon, totally unexpected, was interrupted by deafening thunder and a blinding flash of light that broke open the sky. Instantly tons of water mixed with Sahara sand were poured over us with violence that frightened us and chased away the dogs who did not know where to hide in all directions.  The  thunderstorm accompanied by heavy gusts lasted the whole day and tripled in strength in the evening. In a short time, water seeped inside our veranda and our bedroom, and the water flowed into our bedroom through the window. Outside the swimming pool, that was turned into a gigantic mud puddle, overflew the borders and the dogs’ veranda was flooded because the drain could not swallow the rushing water in time.  Fortunately, the clinic was saved by a millimeter from a flood, there are still residing 4 galgos in Casa Belgica

Anyway, Dirk must find a solution to drain the increasing amount of swirling water that came down and the only solution was to lift the heavy cover of the drain while the deafening thunderclaps and simultaneous lightnings were following each other in record time… It took him half an hour before he could open the heavy cover of the drain and get the water out of the veranda. After he made a dam with cloths and blankets and whatever to lead the water down it was 2:30h at night and we were both exhausted.  The most important thing was that the dogs in the clinic were warm and safe. In the house our dogs were scattered here and there under the sofas and in the donuts…  Dirk looked like a drowning man, and I looked like someone who has seen a ghost… When we went to bed it continued outside and Dirk got up several times to check. Towards morning it suddenly stopped, the sky went open and at 12:00h the temperature was again 32°. Apart from the damage it felt as if nothing had happened. In the street the municipality was cleaning up the tons of sand, branches, greenery, and occasional pieces of roofs and other blown away rubbish. Marie-Carmen called telling the news that there was a death in Cassarubios.  A young 19 year’s old man had taken the elevator to put his car in the garage, the elevator was blocked, the water had risen and… terrible to die like this.

When we asked if the shelter was damaged, she told us that the largest tree was blown down and fell on a fence that fortunately was out of reach of the dogs. All loose things, and all sun protection nets were blown away, but the dogs were okay. Although there is still a lot of sand spread over the streets the municipality meanwhile stopped the clean-up prematurely. The fact that again the temperature is 32° and 38° in the afternoon and no rain is forecasted might be the reason… If only there will not be another storm like the past one, some rain is still welcome. In that case we will already be armed by the time we return to Belgium for the adoption day on the 16th of September, for the annual meeting the day after and for the week after for the first walk of regional manager Annie Dusquesne in Nalinnes. Anyway, hopefully it does not rain on Friday because the Brabant regional managers, Ann and Nancy, will arrive in Spain. They recently organized the successful Kronkel walk and thereafter they took care of the 4-days of the IJzer together with O-Vl regional manager Natascha De Groote and colleague Katia Ruelens (for which I thank you ladies). They will visit Casa Belgica and the shelter about which they have already heard and read a lot and experience firsthand what they are committed to… On Monday they fly back to Belgium with me.

Friday the 8th of September 2023

They arrived yesterday evening and we had a drink together to celebrate the memorable event of the ladies. Thereafter we had supper and for hours we told anecdotes and tall tales about our adventures with GINB. Today a visit to the shelter is planned and we made an appointment with Marie-Carmen at 15:30h.  Time enough for the ladies and Dirk to walk with our over-enthusiastic dogs to the shelter and, it must be said, they thoroughly enjoy this excellent opportunity.  After their return a visit to the clinic is planned with the inevitable accompanying tough stories. After lunch the weather changes. A few drops are falling, and, in the sky, dark clouds gather which is not favorable to our peace of mind.  When we leave at 15:20h it is still cloudy, and a fresh wind is blowing. Just fresh enough to cool the ladies down who are slightly excited and afraid of their emotions during the approaching visit to the shelter. An hour and a half later they saw and absorbed it all. Tears have been shed; they have been overwhelmed by the immense love of the dogs who still trust us, humans, after everything that has been done to them.  They were shocked by the dumped mom with her 4 tiny puppies, they were endeared by puppies Hugues and Huguette who by law can only come along with the next trip. As for so many before them, after having seen the amount of galgos who count on us and depend on GINB, “life as it is” has changed forever now that they have seen the size of the “enterprise” they are part of. After we said goodbye to Marie-Carmen we drive in silence back to Casa Belgica…

Thursday the 14th of September 2023

As you can see, after the usual airport problems due to which we again almost missed our flight, I returned home safely together with the ladies. The ladies took the train and I drove with Gilles’ airport taxi, the grandson of my upstairs neighbor who is watching over me like a mother hen. After I was alone for three days Dirk arrived home at 4:30h on Thursday night/morning after a short stopover at Marianne’s and after the unloading of the dogs in Hof Rosa Canina under guidance of Martine, newcomer Nensie, Kevin and Ronny.  After a few hours’ sleep he left again for Hof Rosa Canina to thoroughly clean his beloved van and to welcome the veterinarian who would check the travelers. The day after we were ready at 9:00h already for the adoption day on which newcomer Sabine (Nensie’s partner) would prove herself with flying colors. It was a lovely sunny adoption day with adopters from all corners of Belgium who were all equally happy with their new family member who must learn from now on, French or Flemish.  Thereafter cakes and chocolates were eaten to celebrate the birthday people and to the dismay of some and “joy” of others I must sing again “Happy Birthday” with my voice that sounded like a sparrow baby that had fallen out of the nest.

Anyway, also all the dogs that arrived had left for their destination and I could only hope and wish that it would be the destination for life.

Sunday the 17th of September 2023

Before we leave today for Brussels for the annual meeting, I must go strongly against my will to the hospital Maria Middelares at 8:00h for another MRI of my spine. Fortunately, I was the first patient in the almost empty hospital and after being half deaf from the umpteenth noisy scan of my bones I still had time for my make-up in the toilet before leaving to Vilvoorde.  We arrived there an hour later, and we could already welcome some early co-workers. At 10:30h we were complete and moderators Raymond Buekenhout, Dirk and I could start. We started with the regional managers’ meeting and the coordinator.  Thereafter was the meeting with the support services to whom specialist Koen Falise provided an explanation about our new website that will soon be presented online.  Finally, the meeting was concluded with an info session for the casual co-workers.  Around 13:00h we finalized debating, and we were expected on the terrace for the aperitif.

With a glass of Cava under a radiant sun we drank to our bond and to GINB’s future and health and its protégés.  Half an hour later we sat at the table, and during the delicious lunch I enjoyed intensely the chatter and togetherness of my “employees”, joke. Anyway, it was heartwarming how in an optimal atmosphere and understanding we strived to do even better for the poor galgos whose chance for a better life depends on us.