What about Marcella? In September I met her at the funeral of het husband, Charles. But too much work, a book to finish off, etc ... months and months went by without seeing her. So the day I finished my book Abadaringi ( www.facebook.com/Abadaringi ) and sent the files to the publisher, I want to take my bike to go to the old people's home in Beveren (50 km. from my hometown Ghent) to greet her and to wish her a good Xmas.
She must be ninety, now, or more. I don't count the years anymore. She has lived eighty-six years in Doel, a village near the river Scheldt. But Doel is now threatened with complete demolition due to the future enlargement of the port of Antwerp. This is my first free day in more than a year, the weather is fine ... but a headache and the remains of a bad cold make me soon regret my decision to ride my bike. Nevertheless I resist heading the nearest railway station to return home: what if I would be in my house, near the stove with a book? I would fell asleep and the weekend would fly away without something interesting would be happened.
So, after a long ride and (only) half a paracetamol, I feel as fit as a fiddle when arriving in Beveren. I pass some pleasant hours with Marcella and her son Rudi, and even decide to continue my trip in the dark towards Doel, where I find a without a doubt a meal and a bed in the house of my friend Peter.
The road to Doel is longer than it used to be. Because of the construction of a gigantic lock in the port which has already stretched out his tentacles between Beveren and Doel, everyone, included bikers, have to make a deviation of more than ten kilometer to reach the abandoned village.
When I went there for the first time, five years ago, to make a story for the french magazine XXI, I made the sketch above. It is the street where Marcella used to live (somewhere in the center of the sketch, the little house with the banner). Now her little shop has burned down. In 2010 there were 30 inhabitants, now there are merely 20 remaining. It's about them I made a book ( www.facebook.com/DorpstekenaarDoel ) It's about them I will make my next book.
December, but this sunday morning (I found a good meal and a bed in the house of Peter) is sunny and warm. And here I am sketching the same house you see above on the right side (but from an other point of view, and on the left side in the sketch below).
The inhabitants of Doel told me these houses will be demolished within some weeks, so I really had to hurry. The port of Antwerp stretches out his tentacles.