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4 september 2017
Where to start?
Where to start? My last update is from November and since then I have been moving around a bit, met great new people, encountered more lovely animals, prepared breakfasts and main meals, cleared bramble bushes, dirt and shit away and took showers with a view. Starting to write about this is in a way the same a starting to prepare a piece of rough terrain for a tent. In April and May I worked for a while at a eco camping/ glamping in the Algarve, Portugal. In a beautiful nature area a Dutch couple from Amsterdam and a friend started a place to unwind and reconnect with nature...but in order to provide this unique experience to their guest, tents needed to be put up. Starting a camping isn't just about pitching a tent...it's a huge adventure, esspecially if it's an off the grid camping place with eco-saw-dust-toilets, outside ( under the tree) heated showers and solar power lights in the tents. And the tents were not the easy-peasy pole-one-goes-in-pole-two-connection tents I knew from the old days...these were serious custom made tipi's, safari tents and bell tents. When arriving on a spot were a tent needed to be placed, the first thought that went through my mind everytime was...were to start? The big bulldozer that had previously made a clearing in the bushes for the specific tent had ofcourse damaged the surroundings a bit and so some places did look like a demolition area. I learned to picture the end result, work from rough to less rough to lesser rough to as fine as possible in the wild. I learned to use materials that were considered not pretty in one space ( like dead bushes and branches between green bushes) in a way that they were useful and even beautiful in another space. ( like making a fencing of dead, twirly brances by using rythm and order). And to visualize people in that specific tent....were would they like to sit, enjoy the view, the sun, the shade? Would they mind to walk the extra mile to that tree there to have a shower with a view or would it be to challenging for a city dweller in the middle of the night, under a moonless night? Would the guest to come feel scared if the toilet would be placed in that far away corner or would he or she enjoy the countless starts and the sounds of the night creatures while going for a night pee ?All these things and many, many more thoughts ran through my and others minds when looking at the empty space, the canvas yet to be painted.
It was a great time, loved every minute of it. I went back in August and it was so great to see the place again, now with all the tents ready and full with happy guests. Totally different work needed to be done then; providing breakfast to the guest at the hang-out place, cleaning and preparing tents for new guests and helping out with the dinners they provided twice a week. Totally different work, but nevertheless great. Thanks to the great hosts! Want to check out this place...surf to their website https://www.intothewild.pt
But the first two weeks that I was in Portugal, ( in march) I worked in a house in Vila do Bispo. The young Portugese hosts were turning this old house of his grandparents into a fresh and clean house with a few rooms for rent. The already fixed upstairs rooms turned out perfect; simple, but stylish and I am sure that the daily freshly made breakfast made the overall experience for guests a great one. Jose and Maria went out of their way to make sure that everybody felt happy and welcome. The downstairs room were still kind of full with old stuff of the previous owners. To decide what could go, what needed to be fixed and what was beyond fixable ( if that is a word) was, due to family obligations and other reasons beyond my power, not that easy and so it took some time to clear the downstairs room. In the mean time I kept myself busy with walking their lovely in the kitchen with breakfast and lunch and clean a bit. All nice work, allthough it did feel more like a holiday than work. That changed when Method came, a very young, less than a week old, calf from their families farm. This lovely baby cow was abandoned by her mother and since the sheperd was gone all day with the cattle, he could not keep an eye on this sweetheart. And so Method ended up in the small backyard of my host, between their chickens. She was incredible curious and strong, but refused to drink either from bucket or bottle. With all the love in the world, and some pushing and forcing, I could get a bit of milk in, but unfortunately this wasn' t enough. I would have loved to stay with her, but then my other work-away started and so I had to leave her behind, knowing that only a miracle could keep her alive. A few days after I left I heard she had died. The poor thing.
Yes, working with animals brings a lot of joy, but unfortunately it doesn't always goes as planned or end well. I experienced that when I was in France, at an animals refugee in the Bergerac, in the Dordonge. There I helped the host to take care of the horses, donkeys, cows, goats, dogs, cats, quails and a rabbit. It was a nice place to stay, lovely host again, great vegan food and beautiful place to stay. One of the many things I will remember for a long time and which I like to share with you are my experience with the 21 old cow Pluche. Saved from spending her life as a milk-cow in a factory farm, this cow grew up in peace on the property of my host. She was the most lovely cow I ever met...sooo gentle and kind and careful. And probably the oldest cow I met as well, because most cows now a days do not reach this age. Anyway, Pluche did reach this old age and eventhough she had been a healthy cow for most of her life, she wasn't so healthy anymore when I arrived. She had a hoof infection ( if that is the proper word for a cows foot) which did not want to heal well and caused her quite some pain. Ariane, the host tried everything to help Pluche, but it's not easy to move a 500 kilo weighing animal around or order it to co-operate. For that same reason it was diffecult to get her to drink sufficient or shelter her from the sun.....she always strayed away from the water bucket ( which we placed near where-ever she was standing in the field) and because the sun was blazing hot, the bedsheets which we soaked in water and placed on top of her, dried quicker than we could wet them. Lots of work, but in the end we had to admitt that she was not going to make it through the summer. The poor thing buckled through her legs one sunny morning and if we had not been in the field that moment, she probably would have died from dehydration on the spot. She was really suffering and trying to get in some liquids by chewing like crazy on a piece of grass, foam on her lips and eyes rolling in her sockets....not a pretty sight and she was cleary very stressed. I guess at that moment we both knew that this was the end of Pluche, but to let her die in such agony was not something we wanted, so we did our very very best to get her in a bit of a sitting position and squeezed bottles of home made sugar/salt solution in her throught. And it did help. After a few long hours she was sitting up again, looking more calm and not turning the head and eyes in a spastic way anymore. But the vet came not so much later and put her to sleep. This may sound strange, aftr helping her up again, but we decided that she had suffered enough and that she could not handle more super warm summer days like this...she would have died maybe the next day or week of thirst or of heat stress. I will not forget that moment easily.
Luckly not all stories end sad though. While I was in France we also found a kitten on the side of the road; super skinny, dehydrated, with hypothermia, strange set of teeth and a sneeze. The first night we ween't sure if she was going to make it, but after a few days of lots of food, warm water bottles to keep her warm, homeopathic drops and cleaning her nose, this small kitten started to get her energy back...and how. Little Nubia was not scared of anything and ran like a mad woman through the room, jumping on and off the bed and placing her sticky paws ( messy eater) on my face whenever I did not respond fast enough on her cries. I talked to my host yesterday on the phone and she told me that Nubia is still like that fierceless and with excesive energy, running behind all the other cats and not afraid of a anything.
Okay, it is time for me to end this blog...or it will become too long to read. I cannot write about all animals and people I have met anyway ....so this is just a summary. And I want to finish it today, because within an hour I will board the airplane for a new adventure. I am on my way to visit my brother in the USA and will continue to Nicaragua after that. Will try to keep you updated. Hugs for now.
4 september 2017 11:33 | Door: Naomi
Thank you ever so much for this lovely update, sweet sister! It has been great to hear some of your stories in the last two weeks & it is equally great to read about your adventures from the last couple of months. Thank you for being such a beautiful, open-minded, loving & curious big sister! You're a true inspiration to me; the way you have set off to travel parts of this world in order to see new places & meet new people fills me with pride and happiness. Have a lovely time in the States and in Nicaragua, say Hi to all our loved-ones & stay safe! Hugs and kiss, kiss from your sis!
7 september 2017 14:53 | Door: Ellen
Of het nu al lezend is, of live op het strand, je verteld het zo dat ik het gevoel heb alsof ik er zelf ook heel eventjes bij ben! Heerlijk! Goede reis en veel plezier bij je familie! Groetjes Ellen