Volunteer in Europe
The weather was warm and sunny and we saw dolphins on our very first outing on the boat! It was so much fun seeing them in their natural habitat. The next day, we observed the data we collected by examining the pictures of the dolphins and matching them to the existing dolphins in the catalog.
Every other day, the entire team went out with the boat to observe and collect data of the dolphins near the coast. While documenting them, they put on a very entertaining show for us! The morning the day after, we all analyzed the data collected. Everyone worked together and helped each other out. During the project, I started to understand how serious this situation is for the dolphins. We could understand the dolphins on another level than before.
There’s a Kafka quote at the bottom of the staircase at the hostel that reads: “Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” For me, doing this internship was about learning to discover the beauty in Prague and the new people that I met while I was here. And it turned out falling in love with Prague was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
Interning in the Czech Republic at a hostel was a very memorable experience. The one thing I regret is only singing up for a month because that month felt like a long summer camp of heaven. I stayed in a girls dormitory, working with the same people and in the same place every day. Alone time was very rare in this lively hostel, but at least you were never lonely either.
Within minutes the volunteers were buzzing about. A nearby restaurant reported that a nest was hatching in the middle of their dining tables! We grabbed some supplies and headed down the beach. Up ahead we saw a lot of commotion. We joined the crowd just in time to see tiny turtles scrambling in every direction and bystanders grabbing them up and ushering them to the Sea. We got to work right away...
It was such a rewarding project to be involved in, as at the end of each day, I could see the nests that I had protected, and know that I had done my part towards saving the turtles, and saving the planet. One of the staff members who was supervising us said, “the best feeling on earth is saving a life that can never repay you”. Helping to save those turtles made me see the truth behind these words.
Everything is really well organized and straightforward. There are three shifts. Two at night and one in the morning and obviously, you will never get more than one shift per day. The night shifts involve walking along the beach looking for turtles and waiting for them to nest. If they nest you get to watch them lay eggs and help measure and tag them. It’s honestly an amazing experience because it’s something so different and unique. The morning patrols consist of writing down all the turtle tracks and finding nests to help secure them.
When I arrived on the Casamiccciola’s harbor I was anxious. I had many questions on my mind: am I ready to leave my comfort zone and to adapt myself to a life on a boat? Will I be useful on the searches and in the sailing? Will the other crew members be welcoming and sympathetic? I was optimistic on this point and I was entirely right.
Some nights we would go to restaurants and pizzerias in Casamicciola, Ischia Porto and on Mt. Epomeo. It was a great way to see the island. There was alwayszuch an energetic and happy atmosphere on board and everyone was just so fascinating and lovely to talk to; you really make amazing connections. Don’t even worry about learning Italian, ba bene (a phrase you’ll most definitely learn that means “it’s alright”), you can easily learn a bit on board!
Day trips outside of the city were also a fantastic opportunity to experience more Spanish culture and see what else Spain has to offer. Girona with the beautifully colourful houses and Roman ruins; Figueres with the overwhelming Dali Museum (and crypt of the man himself); Sitges with its beautiful beaches and Montserrat with its hiking trails and Monastery. These were incredible days and ones that I wouldn’t have had without my time volunteering.
I do miss all the mornings and afternoons with the horses. I have engaged in some garden works like harvesting and plowing. The freshly harvested food was very delicious. I enjoyed every meal with the great view of Requijada’s landscape. Also, I participated in the ornithological research which offered me a valuable opportunity to appreciate and understand more about different breeds of birds.
Genevieve and Brian have really found a little slice of heaven. I had my own straw bale cabin that immediately felt like home. In fact on one weekend I left the comfort of the farm and ventured to the coast of Spain to do some diving (since we are given weekends off) and I remember after a few short hours of being on this beautiful coastline – I started to feel “home sick” for my straw bale cabin and couldn’t wait to get back to it.
This previous summer (Summer 2012) I traveled with GoEco to Valencia, to take part in a series of conservation projects around the Valencia Region. I can summarize my experience in exactly one word, AMAZING! From the beginning, GO-ECO helped me find a suitable program and made the entire process so much easier.