Wednesday, 17 July 2013

I am alive!

Almost a month ago I posted my first article. Sorry! But I didn’t have time to update it. I will tell you:

During this last month, I have attended two different workcamps, which my organization coordinated, Deineta.
I am absolutely certain we all volunteers gained knowledge and skills participating in these workcamps.

The workcamps took place in Varnai, a small village situated in the North West of Lithuania. A fantastic place where you can enjoy the nature and the amazing lake with its beach.

The first workcamp was from June 16st to June 27st. The goal of this workcamp was to prepare the Festival KILKIM ŽAIBU 2013, the Festival of ancient traditions and heavy music.

We gathered 5 volunteers from different countries ( Spain, France, Italy and Mexico). Also our camp leader, from Lithuania.

Concerning to our tasks, we helped organizers out to build festive traditional installations (domes, fire places, sculptures), prepare raw materials, prepare the territory for the festival, set up tents, clean the territory after the festival, etc…
At the beginning it was hard because there was much work to do but, day by day, we forgot the workload and started to enjoy the international atmosphere, people, jokes, etc…

I think it’s worth it to work for several hours and later enjoying the extra time. During our extra time, I mean after working, we met many other Lithuanian volunteers, took the waterbike around the lake, played card games, went for a drink at the beach. But the most amazing activity was when we went to a wood full of mud with other Lithuanian volunteers, Kulgrinda. I was told that it was an ancient tradition, the pagans, who knew the roads in the forest, attracted persecutors and they got stuck in the mud.

Concerning to the second workcamp, it was called BLIUZO NAKTYS and took place in the same place, in Varniai, from June 30th to July 30th. It is a well-known festival in Lithuania.

In this workcamp we gathered 8 people ( Spain, Russia, Mexico, Korea, Italy, Taiwan and Turkey). I can say this one was special due to the diversity of nationalities and cultures.

Until the festival we did almost the same tasks than the previous one ( prepare the territory, paint some stuff, etc…).
I think the fun was bigger seeing as we were more volunteers and we had less work.

In this workcamp I want to emphasize a day, my birthday. The volunteers prepared a surprise party to me. They bought a delicious cake and we ate it around a fire, dancing and singing. Thanks guys!

During the festival, we enjoyed the concerts and people. It was packed!
Finally, after the festival we cleaned the territory and we left to Palanga to enjoy its beach. It was an unforgettable day because we made a delicious barbeque!
With the finalization of the trip to Palanga  was time to say bye to them.
I will miss you guys!

The half of my summer has gone but I don’t regret it, I have had a fantastic time! The best thing is the other half part of my summer will be other two workcamps!
I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Less than a week since I came to Kaunas, Lithuania,  I start to write my blog in order to you all know my life during this new experience that I have started, EVS volunteer.

From the beginning has been easy seeing as Thomas, a guy who works in my Host Organisation picked me up from the Kaunas  airport. When I arrived at home, other two volunteers were waiting for me. We spent the Sunday visiting the city of Kaunas, nice city, over all the old town, the Castle and the place where two rivers are joined ( Neman and Neris). Finally, the bulgarian volunteer, Ivan, prepared a typical dinner from Bulgaria to me and my flatmate. It's very nice, meet balls with a yoghurt sausage.

Concerning to my accomodation is nice. It takes me 10 minutes to go to the office from my home. Also, I live with a Spanish guy who is helping me with the typical things you have to run at the begining ( phone, number of buses, supermarket, etc...) 

Most of time I am at the Office where the atmosphere is very nice and familiar, they all get along and make jokes each others. 

My project consistes of informing Youth about mobility, Maintenance of Deineta’s webpage, internet blog and social networking accounts. Also , I will attend to international summer camps where I will have the chance to meet new people from different countries and create some activities.

I will keep you posted!

Thursday, 4 April 2013


There was time in my life that really matter and I am about to tell you my experience. I was 10 months in Lithuania. I lived in small village Plateliai and worked in Žemaitjos Nacionalinis parkas.
I was EVS volunteer like all of us in this blog, but I just had my own experience in this time and exact place, like no another. I think this is what makes EVS experience all so unique for every volunteer.
I decided not to make my own blog, as everything was too much to talk about, and wanted to say about it all in one big article when I am finished.

Lithuania is... well, whatever it is you need to come here and find it out yourself! My Lithuania is Lietuva with interesting culture and history. My Lithuania is Žemaitija (Samogitia) region, historical part of Lithuania where lived another tribe žemaitians, they came to live in this territory, but before there were living kurši (curonians) tribe, later on this 2 tribes in Lithuania territory assimilated in one another. Samogitians had their own language and traditions for many century's, till after the Battle of Grunwald (German: Schlacht bei Tannenberg, Lithuanian: Žalgirio mūšis) at 1410 they lost their independence and were integrated in Lithuanian culture gradually by many different occasions in history. This tribe accepted Christianity only in 15. century, it was the last baptized region in Europe. Lithuania got first independence after the World War I and so it integrated all 5 regions in to the Republic of Lithuania. To make it more clear, in Lithuanian language this region is called Žemaitija, in Žemaitian - Žemaitėjė, but in English - Samogitia, and it means - lowlands. It is one of 5 ethnographic regions in Lithuania. Right now their language is called as dialect, but in schools they have to learn Lithuanian literal language, what is general language for all country. They can speak their dialect at home and in public, unless it is not official. Then they have to switch to literal language. Žemaitians try to fight for their rights last years more active and so they have their newspapers, magazines, books, communities, celebrations and so on. They try to preserve culture and language heritage what is left, keep traditions alive and do research on this subjects deeper.
I also am partly Žemaitian as my grandparents were born in Žemaitija, but life took them away from their home towns, after the World War II they moved to live in Latvia and spend the rest of life there. My experience took place just around 80 km. from place I spend my childhood. And this 80 kilometers in my life changed a lot.
I guess there is many things what is possible to say about country and culture in it. Most of country's have also another cultures integrated within them. There is different tribes, languages, dialects, religions etc. Also Lithuania is one of them. There is different regions and each of it have specific background what formed them. But most different is Žemaitija region. It just stands out and it is its very own place. I came here to know my roots and understand this culture better.

In Žemaitija National park I spend very interesting time in my life.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

My adventure as a volunteer

 Almost 9 months have passed since I arrived in a country new to me, alone, with only my suitcase and a fear of the unknown. I landed in the city of Vilnius. At that time I had no idea how much stuff I would experience. The trip was long, too many buses, trains, planes and bitter cold, my destination was a small town Viekšniai in Lithuania. There I waited for my mentor and my fellow volunteer. I do not know why I had a huge desire to mourn; everything was a bit gray and so different from other countries where I had previously been. The first few weeks, I must admit, were not easy, bad weather and little work made my nostalgia for Spain increasing every day, but soon that feeling gradually changed. We started working with Ventos Regioninis Parkas i.e. my project as an environmental educator in schools, participation in the organic farm, organizing various events in the area etc ... In addition, I attended various traditional festivals via which I get immersed into Lithuanian culture, at which point I realised that Lithuania has its own spirit, a very different culture from the rest of Europe, full of pagan traditions and legends that make you involve in a magical atmosphere. Then came the meeting with the other volunteers in the country, travelling, meeting new people ... Little by little I was adapting to a new environment, and whatever I liked. Soon came the summer, swimming in the river, picnics, bike outings, trips and countless hitchhiking ... hard to explain. Never until then had I lived in an atmosphere so quiet, I remember my friends were jealous that a people had to spend the summer with his old friends, but now I know what it is to live from the basics and not waste on things in the city seemingly so essential.

Right now, I am in my final weeks of volunteering over 8 months experience having been living here. I have experienced all kinds of sensations: first, distrust of adjusting to a different location, then euphoria and desire to know everything, then nostalgia for native memories of friends in Spain and finally mix of sadness and joy, because I know that it is end of another chapter in my life. But I want to turn back to see my family and start something new. Now it begins to stalk a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia, melancholy, the feeling of closing a new stage, this will end soon, and I will always remember the good times only because even the bad ones, are remembered with some affection.
At this time I have become much more tolerant and learned to deal better in a new environment, to lose the fear of public speaking, to bring new ideas, new projects, and all thanks to EVS.

Despite the difficult times that I have lived here, it became hard to have much free time and sometimes in a hostile environment. I can only point out the good things, because with all this I am taking a suitcase full of memories and wisdom. Here I leave some photos capturing part my volunteering.

Santiago-Pérez Berta Juárez

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Viva la Venta!

Berta, Tomaš and me
I have wrote about my experience to Augštaitja national park and Žagares regional park, but there is one more park I have been seeing many times and I would like to tell about.

And it is the one who is left behind, no one went there for exchange and also this years volunteers mostly had some troubles there. So I want to talk about Ventos regioninis parkas. :)

I got to know closer this park in Easter time when I went for my first visit to meet my good EVS friends and volunteers Berta from Spain and Tomaš from Slovakia. 

This park is protecting river Venta and its banks. This river starts in Lithuania and go trough Latvia, and in the Ventspils city it reaches the Baltic sea. In Latvia, Kurzeme region, this river is the bigest and also name Venta influenced the name of the city Ventspils (meaning is Castle of Venta). 
Ventas Rumba in Kuldīga, Latvija
The local manner of speaking is named ventiņu valoda (so called ventini language). And above all - in Kuldīga city in Latvia - Venta have very natural waterfall called Ventas rumba - widest in all Europe. I remember that one friend didn't believe me that we can have our own natural and so wide waterfall, but we do have :) On average it is 100 — 110 m, on spring when is running a lot of water 270 m, and height 1,6 — 2,2 m.
So I am not sure how important this river is for Lithuanians in general but for Kurzeme region in Latvia it is very important historically, culturally and naturally and so we are glad that in Lithuania they have even regional park dedicated to this river.

But if we talk about my experience in the Venta park then I can say that all fun is because of Berta and Tomaš. They are smart young people with lot of ideas but somehow they were not so lucky with support from the park but despite of all bad sides, I still can say that it was interesting time what I spent in Viekšniai or Mažeikiai, where they lived.Mostly because they are now my very good friends.

At Easter time I was shown around the Viekšniai and nature sites near the Venta. It was still cold and very grey time of spring. We saw summer camp place for children, forest and river banks, many traces of beavers, who live near the river.
I can show some pictures of this walk: 

Virvite summer camp near Venta.

River banks of Venta

Open air concert place in the forest.
Job of beavers.

Later on we went to the village Viekšniai which is also located along the river banks and is very old, many houses is from wood and shows to us last century architecture, also there is traces from soviet time style but I think it is almost everywhere like that in ex Soviet country's. 
In Viekšniai there is worth visit some places: water mill (Viekšnių malūnas), Museum of the Pharmacy in Viekšniai and Museum of the Aviation Pioneer Aleksandras Griškevičius. In summertime there is also chances to swim, do water tourism and visit another nature objects and tourist paths. 
For myself I enjoyed a lot excursion to eco farm of Jadvyga Balvočiūtė, she is pharmacist and specialist in ecological tea farming and she owns quite big tea farm. I was shown around by Tomaš and I could see how the process is done by workers - tea drying, weighting, packing. Also Jadvyga herself was there but busy with clients - she makes special receipts for patients with illnesses if general mixtures of tea for different problems cant help. There was also specialist from office who talk with us and offer some tea from nice clay pots and told story of this place and Jadvyga. When we left I had a chance to see this lovely lady and she left very bright feeling to me. When I write this I still can remember the nice smell of the teas...

We also visited neighbor village Pievenai (Pievėnai) where in local church  was going on some very special night event for Easter time - it is very unique tradition in Lithuania and in Europe which is happening only in Easters. It seems to me that this procession in church is mix of pagan traditions with catholic believes. There is full church of people of all age, singing and praying, but this all looks like a carnival to me, because there is also Jesus Christs guard. There is group of people dressed in to the uniforms and they are standing and protecting the cross all night, who is placed in the middle of the church by their swords against devils (also group of people wearing wooden masks of devil). In the end all this procession is very funny and loud, kids are running around, screaming and trying to hide from devils with big scissors. Some people singing, some going after the saint water, some tourists like us just standing and trying to get the point :)

From left: Berta, Tomaš, me, Lorenzo and Espen

Summer time came and we could spend time a bit more outside. I went to visit them when they were working in the children camp and they were busy all day. Berta was working with children and participating in art classes but Tomaš was helping to reconstruct some wooden building. I just spend some time with kids who were eager to try speak in English with foreigners. Also we went to monitoring orchids one day with the people from some nature protecting institution (not sure which one). Then I had access to strictly forbidden places and saw a lot orchids and also very rare ones. Sadly that I have no pictures from this time. One more project I participate was when Tomaš arrange with art school children to paint the old garbage bins. We did a great and artistic work with the teachers and pupils, and it was fun. 

Life in Mažeikiai is very different from village life - it is city with not so much old houses or green areas, mostly grey building and very soviet architecture, built for workers from nearby factories. There is not really much to do for young people even the city was once built for them. But even there we could find some activities to do - bowling and skating was the most funniest. Tomaš and Berta are also great at cooking and so we have some fiesta time when we are together :)

We also made travel together with another volunteers Pierre (Žagare regional park) and Olga (Kursiu Nerija national park) to Norway and they also have been visiting my place when we had some free time in our EVS project. Visiting each other on our spare time made our time in Lithuania more fun and we could deal with our problems better than alone. Also sharing knowledge and ideas can help in daily life to understand more the culture differences which are around and you have to live trough.

Espen, me, Berta, Olga, Pierre in Norway
Me, Olga, Berta and Tomaš in Stavanger, Norway
Berta likes animals
Me, Marlen (Germany) and Berta visiting Ona, lady in Vievis
Barstyčiai village festival

Me and Tomaš in Rīga, Latvija
Tomaš being a volunteer in my Poetry Day project in Riga

 Me, Berta and Tomaš in Plateliai
All I want to wish for next volunteers is - the value of EVS and your life in EVS you can find trough process of learning, understanding, receiving and sharing. If you can find some new perspective of yourself trough good times and bad times then you can be very happy, you are doing some life changing process. If you find some friends for life - then I think this is best gift you can have being here :)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lapkričio devintoji

Last week I held a "German Day" in Plateliai in order to show the variety of traditions and custom in Germany's regions and its history. It took place on November 9 as this day is an important day in German history.

First, I baked a cake which I know from my family together with the 10th form of Plateliai's secondary school.

Preparing the dough ...

... and the crumbles

Creating German mini-flags

The bakers proudly present: Apricot jam crumble!

The next day I presented in the school. I sang a German song, after that everyone repeated it.

But the most important part was to taste the cake.

The audience is fascinated.

In the evening I presented in front of people from Plateliai. I told about German history in the last 200 years, showed typical clothes, food and celebrations from German regions and prepared a slideshow about Germany's architectural and natural heritage.

I received very positive reactions. Some people were happy to hear some German words wich they were able to understand. So it was a successful evening.