Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not Going to the Dogs — Faye Sweeney, Dapper Ridgebacks & the Holiday Season Now Upon Us

"Feliz Navidad"
Plaza Mayor,
Burgos, Spain

 (click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

We were scheduled to be in Canencia today, in the mountains north of Madrid. Instead I'm writing in Café Latino, one of a few favorite sources in Burgos of free wifi and inexpensive cafés con leche.

On December 2, Faye Sweeney contacted us to see if Mufidah and I were available to house/pet sit, the latter concerning her family's future breeding kennel of Rhodesian Ridgebacks — Dapper Ridgebacks — other family and fostered rescue dogs, and cats and chickens. What I had called a veritable menagerie.

We were looking forward to it — spending from the 23rd, today, through to the 29th of December in the countryside and seeing another part of Spain. Canencia is a village situated in the Lozoya Valley, an hour's drive north of Madrid, which we've not yet had the opportunity to visit. And as those of you who know us well would assume, we were looking forward to caring for, and otherwise hanging out with, the animal folk.

Yet this past Wednesday, just before 5 pm, we received a brief email from Faye canceling our plans. Plans which I would have thought were more than a mere legal contract — that there was a coming together with integrity and shared commitment — but it was most certainly the former, a legally binding agreement.

We had priced our services in light of the income we'd lose from not meeting with our English language students here in Burgos, and from other income opportunities we could otherwise pursue. For although we're slow-traveling around continental Europe, we're very much in need of continuing to earn our simple, day-to-day living.

So just four days before our planned arrival in Canencia — and just 48 hours from the start of the holiday season, at close of business Friday evening — we found ourselves having to rearrange our plans to, instead, stay here in Burgos. Less the much-needed 350 Euros in agreed upon compensation.

That said, we're still happy to be in Burgos, as we had realized when we agreed to house/pet sit for Faye that we'd be missing out on all that our students have told us about the Christmas and New Year season here in this fine city which we've grown to love.

Yesterday, we spent much of the afternoon sourcing groceries for the next several days, when shops will either be closed or maintaining irregular hours.We bought fresh veg from various stalls in the Mercado Norte, did a final grocery shop at the local Mercadona, and picked up a few other items, like soy sauce and coconut milk, from the Carrefour Express which the former doesn't stock (one of my world-wise students refers to Mercadona as the Soviet given the store's limited selection beyond its ubiquitous in-house brand).

In the evening we went for a walk and took some Instagram photographs, one of which graces the top of this post. I deliberately moved my iPhone upwards while shooting the "Feliz Navidad" lights above the archway leading from the Plaza Mayor, the city's main square, to the Paseo del Espolón. I got lucky with the results, with my first shot coming out better than I had hoped. In particular, I like the shadowy, nondescript figures walking towards the camera. And the impossibly long-legged chap on the right who's apparently lost his head to an unaccounted for blue light.

You can view Mufidah's Instagram photos here. I see she's out shooting more while I'm ensconced in the writing of this blog post. Must, therefore, wrap this up so that I can get out and join her.

In brief, not exactly the holiday season we'd planned for, but one we'll no doubt continue to make the very most of. We both have multiple writing projects in the works, and will, of course, be taking more photographs of Burgos. And as I wrote about in a recent blog post, we'll take the time to write out and otherwise consider our year-end reflections for 2012 while exploring our day-to-day intentions for 2013 given that it looks likely to arrive despite naysayers' countless predictions.

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a most glorious holiday season, a peaceful year's end, and a most splendiferous New Year.

With love and warm regards,

Sean

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