The nightlife of an ecoventure

** Romania **

I signed up for this project without any expectations, a little anxious at the thought that I would not get along with other people with different cultures, backgrounds and experiences. I didn’t know at that time that this will be a project in which I’ll learn a lot, but also that this group of strangers will come to work as a family, and that I will feel surrounded by brothers and sisters.

The first place we camped was in Romania in a beautiful mountain area. Here we get to know each other and learn to live together. I think this place is what made us feel like a family. The fact that none of us was used to sleeping so much time in a tent, having to prepare the environment for our basic commodities like showering or cooking, setting up our “home” and sharing this home with so many different people we just met are the things that really connected us. We had to be united and tidy, work in teams to make our food, keep the place clean, take care of our tents and assume responsibilities that will impact the whole group. The days were nice, full of work, learning and fun, but the nights were our special moments.

This connection with nature, that peace given by the landscape, sitting around the fire, which we did together, watching the shining stars spread like sand all around the dark, blue sky, hearing the wood crackling in the fire, feeling the strong heat of the fire on our wet skin, embraced by the cold of the mountain during the night, far from civilization, far from our cozy lives, made us get closer and closer and encouraged us to tell our stories, to feel safe and be ourselves, without any social masks we may have put in our everyday lives.

The first night was a little weird because we didn’t know each other, we didn’t feel at ease, and we didn’t know if we would get along, but from the second night, this changed. Those feelings of anxiety or insecurity vanished to make space for trust and understanding. From now on, I felt like I can talk about anything with these people, that they will understand me and will give me advice from their experiences. On the third night, gathering around the fire become already a “tradition.” This night we danced, we told horror stories around the fire, and we played many different games. The wildness and the darkness of the place become our home, our safe space.

** Bulgaria **

When we arrived at the camping area in Bulgaria it was like a shock to us because we went from a river in Romania, to a lake in Bulgaria, from wild camping to organizing camping, from improvised places and tools to wash to showers with hot water. But no more fire, no more deep silence, no more dark sky and no more just us…

On the first evening, tired after a long journey, we sat at the table, all as a family, after which we went to admire the new landscape, the lake, which amased us with its beauty. We could make a fire in the camping, but the idea seemed to kinda loose its magical vibe it used to have.

Our evenings were now spent near tents, on chairs, or at the table in the area where we used to eat. This time we spent together was also very beautiful because we already knew each other quite well, so we could be more open and let ourselved dragged in deep conversations. This night I went to sleep quite early, around 2 o’clock, and yes, in our ecoventure it was a reasonable hour to go to sleep if you ask…

In the second evening we had an attempt to make the fire, but the dry wood we were collecting from the forest was not there anymore… What we had now were some green branches already prepared for us. All this lack of effort we have speared for not seraching for wood didn’t really helped us because our fire struggled between life and death for about 40 minutes until we got bored and gave up to the idea for that evening. However, we had a lot of fun anyway near our fire attempt, remembing with nostalgia about the days spent in Romania, but the playing, laughing, dancing ,watching at the stars and the lake, building connection between us and nature were still part of our every night routine.

** Greece **

Once in Greece I knew that everything would be different. As soon as arrived to the camping area, we pitched our tents and ran to the beach to admire the view and to swim. Since I was never in Greece before, as soon as I was accepted in this project start dreaming to the moment when I will enter the sea to swim along the shores like no one did before. As soon as I seen the water I jumped in the waves, thinking I am a superheroe that break the brick walls to save the world and I swim until my skin looked like a canyon full with with wrinkles. I came up on the shore, lay on my back in the salt water of the sea I just couldn’t let behind, letting the sun to worm up my whole body.

In Greece, every evening came like a period of relaxation after a day full of different activities. All the night time we had in Greece we spent in on the beach, talking, playing games and laughing. The sound of the waves in combination with the soft sound of the music gave us a feeling of well-being, making us think about the real beauty of life, a beauty that motivates us to overcome all the obstacles we may encounter.

There are so many feelings that we have exeperienced in these beautiful summer evenings we spent together that I cannot really express them in words. I just want you to know that for me it was the first experience of this kind and I can trully say that it was wonderful. I met new and beautiful people, I discovered the beauty of the nature and I understood that it needs us to protect it, I visited unforgettable places and I learned a lot of things I didn’t even realized at that moment.

Ecoventure bit: “The fun of sleeping”

I must confess that from the last evening in Batak, I don’t remember much… After 36 km biking around the lake, you can’t really stay awake. What I can tell you though, is how I fell asleep on the bench at the dinner table. I will start by telling you that when I’m tired, I look like a bear just before hibernation. After I finished eating, I said to myself, “Hmm, it’s like I’d better lie down a bit.” The moment I stretched my legs it was as if all my muscles relaxed. I put my elbows on the bench so my hands set up at a 90 degree angle will support my head, just for a couple of minutes. To be honest, it was a quite weird position to even stay, but in less than a minute I was already sleeing like this. From what I heard, suddenly after I fell asleep I became the center of attention because people could not explain how I can sleep sitting in a position that requires balance and a lot of tension on the neck muscles. Apparently, they tried to wake me, but you know… the bear… After about an hour of sleeping, I woke up in a crazy laughing environment and went to the tent as if nothing had happened. I found out the next day that I was the reason for that night entertainment so I can say I hit the jackpot that night – I have a hell of a good sleep and I made my friends happy.

The content for this post is part of our online blog called “Ecoventure” which aims to share our experience in the Erasmus+ Youth Exchange ”Ecotourism Ventures for Youth Environmental Education”. The project was financed with the support of the European Commission through Erasmus+ Programme. This blog reflects only the author’s views, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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