Three years

When I walk downstairs my mother has just finished cleaning the fireplace. As she walks into the kitchen to make me a cup of coffee, she notes that is has been exactly three years since we started cleaning and reorganizing the house. A little later my sister Noëlle receives exactly the same message from Facebook. Photos of what the house looked like at the time come in one by one on WhatsApp. The gigantic hall was full of furniture that we couldn’t (or didn’t want to) use. The current bar still served as a storage space. And the patio, despite some plants here and there, didn’t look nearly as cozy as it does now.

A world of difference, I think, when I walk upstairs after finishing my coffee with the vacuum cleaner and a bucket of soapy water in tow. Although we are far from finished, I am proud of what we have achieved here so far. All the essentials are there. And it is beautiful. Fortunately, the municipal representative, who came to inspect our brand new Bed & Breakfast, thought so too. When he briefly stops walking after seeing all the rooms and asks me if our telephone number is online, I can’t help but nod. “On Google and our website,” I answer. “Good,” he nods approvingly. “Then I’ll come with my wife sometime.” I smile. He couldn’t have given us a bigger compliment.

It immediately makes me less nervous for next Friday’s visit. Then the delegation from Alicante will come. “They award the number of stars,” the municipality representative informs me. I nod. I’ve seen the list. The requirements that a Casa Rural must meet to achieve a certain number of stars. If the requirements on the list are strictly followed, we will not be able to get more than two. We lack a bidet in the bathrooms. I know that, but the guests don’t. I therefore do not immediately judge when I see a Bed & Breakfast with only two stars. Instead, I ask the owner directly. “The bidet?” They almost always nod in agreement.

When I plug in the vacuum cleaner and make the house spic and span for our next guests, I try to clear my mind for a moment. It doesn’t work at all. “I’m so excited that they’re coming on Friday,” I confess to my mother again later that day. “I know,” she answers, not very impressed. “You can’t seem to stop talking about it.” I smile in agreement. She’s right. But when I look at the house, I still see all the things I would like to change. A new sofa. A new coffee machine. More picture frames on the wall. A cozy sitting area in the hallway. Only when I compile the photos from three years ago into a Facebook post to share with our followers do I realize that every now and then we can also reflect on everything we have already done. A lot has changed in three years. I’m sure I’ll be able to say the same thing in three years’ time. And with a bit of luck, that new sofa won’t be so new anymore.