On the road

During 2013 I have done many things, I have visited many places, I have met many people, I have lived many experiences… I have learnt a lot.

I learnt in the office, I learnt in the events, I learnt in the trainings, I learnt in the trips, I learnt looking, I learnt listening, I learnt talking, I learnt doing, I learnt walking, I learnt touching, smelling, feeling, living…

During 2013 I lived in Pilsen, Czech Republic. But also in Prague, in Olomouc, in Brno, in Mikulov, in Valeč, in Hradec Králové, in Karlovy Vary, in Lomeček, in Český Krumlov, in Kutná Hora, in the Moravian Karst… Also in the trains, in the buses, in the trams… In that village I don´t remember the name and in that train station where I had to change the train…

And I crossed the borders. And I was in Poland, in Ukraine, in Slovakia, in Hungary, in Croatia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Serbia, in Germany…

During 2013 I made a lot of friends. Friends from Czech Republic and from Spain, of course. But also from France, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Poland, from Russia, from England, from Ireland, from Germany, from Lithuania, from Armenia…

And in some ways I changed and somehow I am still the same. And I fulfilled many plans and others are still there, waiting for another year or for joining to the list of things that will never be realized. And for sure I made a lot of mistakes and I had always the feeling that I could have done more…

But everything I did, everything I lived, made me feel more alive than ever. Because during 2013 I felt I was always on the road. Like Jack Kerouac.

“…Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”

And I loved it.

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The nature within the city

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My first contact with the traditional Czech Christmas took place quite early, during the last weekend of November. It was not the opening of the typical Christmas market that you can find in every main square in every city, town or village in Czech Republic but a special and traditional Christmas fair in Toulcův Dvůr, a Centre for Environmental Education in the surroundings of Prague.

When you are already inside the complex, the first question that comes to your mind is, Am I really in Prague? Different habitats -forest, meadows, wetlands and orchards- shape approximately 8.5 hectares of natural grounds. A gratifying piece of nature within the city. Because in the end, if you look at the horizon, the Paneláks are still there, defiant, looking more grey than ever although they are not grey anymore, as if they were the first line of the enemy’s army of a never-ending war. The silent war between “progress” and nature, between the city and the countryside…

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But today, in the other “army” is a day of celebration.  Toulcův Dvůr is welcoming Mikuláš (St. Nicholas), so it is a good opportunity for everybody to visit the place, know their values and of course, get more in touch with Czech traditions. My guide through this special natural “rear” in the city is Jess, an EVS from Cambridge, England. She is 24 years old and works in Youth and Environment Europe, one of the NGOs that are established in the landmarks of Toulcův Dvůr. The aim of her organization is to promote environmental protection and raise awareness among young people. Actually, it is a network with more than 40 member organizations in 25 different countries. Through several platforms –youth exchanges, international trainings, youth in action programs, online networks…- young people from different places and organisations can share their ideas, collaborate together and communicate in a daily basis.

For example, Jess is now in charge of The Right to Bee, an awareness campaign to support the survival of bees. She set up and promoted an online place where everybody could add their ideas for workshops. Then, the campaign team voted for the five best ones, which will be realized during next spring with the help of some interactive step-by-step guides created by her.

Since she was 17, Jess has been passionate about two different topics that have been in her life together since then: Environmental protection and Eastern Europe. Before coming here, she was working in different NGOs and environmental campaigns in Armenia and Ukraine, and also travelling all around the continent. Now she is writing a blog (tygerbeat.wordpress.com) where she collects the news about environmental needs in Eastern and central Europe. “Western Media is not interested at all, if they are writing about these countries is only about economics or corruption. But I am, so I try really hard to find these stories and if I find something which I can support in the future, I will definitely do…”.

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Jess talks really enthusiastically about all her work and her aspirations. She is the kind person you can trust to work with, always ready to start something, always motivated, with a smile in her face. She is talking with me while we are visiting the Christmas festival and the fields of Toulcův Dvůr – the horses, the farm, the wooden structures where children play and learn, the bees, the fire, the offices, the permaculture garden, the kindergarten, the  nature itself… -.

It is indeed a really cold day but we stay outside most of the time, as well as all the Czech families that have come to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. It is not 5th of December but, as we are at the weekend, Mikuláš has come early this year at Toulcův Dvůr. To warm up ourselves a little bit, we decided to try some Svařák (hot wine typical from Czech Republic) and eat a Bramboračka. Soon, the children will run into the angels, devils or Mikuláš. He looks a little bit like Santa Claus –nice old man, big white bear…- but more religious – he wears a red cape with golden motifs and a classic tall walking stick. The origin of Santa Claus was indeed inspired by St. Nicholas.  If the children were good this year, they will be rewarded with sweets, if not, they can be put into the Devil´s sack and be taken to hell…

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But before that, all of them have the opportunity to show their skills to their parents. In the outside stage, different groups of them sing typical Czech songs, perform a play about nativity, or show old Czech dances. There are also some folk bands and a lot of stands where you can buy typical Christmas and craft products, homemade dolls, old Czech food, drinks…

Most of the children come from the Kindergarten Semínko (Seed), also located inside Toulcův Dvůr. They believe in the need for children to have daily contact with nature, ensuring their healthy and harmonious development and enriching the lessons by the fact that they are there, looking, touching, smelling and feeling all they learn. They spend as much time as possible outside, no matter the weather conditions as long as the children can adapt to them… The learning, therefore, is something real in all senses, not only something that they have to believe it is real.

In the different classes and programs they have there are not only qualified teachers but also foreigners assistants. Penélope, an EVS from Málaga, Spain, arrived here last winter, when a thin layer of snow covered the whole area. She has been working with the children since then, overcoming the barriers of language. For me, it is still amazing to see how easy is for them to have a good relation with the children, to communicate with them, to understand and help all of them in different situations. In the end what counts more is the affection, the empathy, the motivation, the gestures…

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Penélope is one of the most cheerful people I have met. During the mid-term, we had the opportunity to see how she teaches flamenco to the children with a really nice short story to make all the movements. Today, we also met her during the festival. She is not the only one who works in Semínko. Three more Spanish girls are currently working there, with EVS or Erasmus programs, and Jess also helped them once a week.

The night was coming but we kept looking at some performances with the help of more Svařák. We wanted to stay until the end, not to see Mikuláš, as all the children, but one of the devils. The reason was that we knew him very well. And not because we have behaved badly during this year but because he is also an EVS… Today, Txus, a 25-year-old guy from Madrid, Spain, is dressed up as a devil to frighten all the bad children in Toulcův Dvůr. He also works in Youth and Environment Europe and helps with the horses and in other events which take place in Toulcův Dvůr as well.

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One of the projects he has been in charge of since the beginning is the urban gardening for small spaces. Every moment is a good moment to make people aware of the many benefits of it (for the environment, for the human health, for food conservation, for economic and sustainable development, etc.). In the mid-term, for instance, the other EVS could share their ideas and learn more about it.

Txus has been always involved in social movements fighting for social justice and equality in Spain, a country which everyday lacks more and more of it. He has a really outgoing personality and he seems to have the things clear. For him, the war is waging everyday. A very difficult war, as many people are still not aware of it. But as an old African proverb says, “Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can alter the face of the world”.

My Czech playlist vol.2 Music for life

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I have been wondering for a long time how to introduce this post. It has nothing to do with the blog thematic. Or maybe it has. At least a little bit. I want to think that music is an important part of my life (of everybody life). As well as Czech Republic now. So I want to keep recommending some of the bands that have been accompanying me during this amazing year. I admit that last time I found a better excuse to write about it. But I had promised to continue. So here it is. Remind festival, Živá ulice in Plzeň or Video mapping festival in Olomouc are some of the events that gave me the opportunity to see some of these bands. I will probably never see all of them but it doesn’t matter. They will always be there, in my daily life, in the sad moments, in the nostalgic times, when I am angry or happy, when I am especially motivated or just fine… Some bands are more international, others really Czechs in all senses. Anyway, almost none of them are commercial. Open your mind and feel it. Not all the music comes from USA and UK…

If you want to read the first part, click here:

https://aczechstory.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/my-czech-playlist-vol-1-united-islands/

If you want to read about Remind festival, click here:

https://aczechstory.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/the-last-days-of-summer/

Please the trees: One of the most famous indie Czech bands. A coming back to the 70s with the influence of the newest indie scene.  Experimental and atmospheric folk.

DVA: “Pop for non-existing radios” or “folklore of non-existing nations”, as they say. This international Czech duo has created its own language for an indescribable music (from tango or cabaret to electronic or traditional instrumentation). In any case, music for open-minded people.

Ohm Square: A little bit of Drum and Bass and Breakbeat is always welcome. Famous since the nineties, their music has appeared in many Czech films. If you are in need of some good vibrations, this is your band. Electronic music for all tastes.

Piano: Mikoláš Růžička is one half of the guitar pop duo Republic of Two but I would like to recommend his new project, Piano. Still pop, but full of energy.  This song writer and singer gives more emphasis to the instruments and express all his most intimate emotions in his new album.

Nierika: A trip-hop project from 2001. Chillout music for relaxing times. Her nice voice will haunt you and her new rock but lounge style will keep you dreaming…

Obří broskev: Classic alternative rock in Czech. Sadly, they are in a “hibernation” period, but you can always wake up with their energetic music style.

Mig 21: Pop rock in a Czech way. Their curious lyrics, the strong personality of the famous singer and actor Jiří Macháček, their strange videos and the stage design create a funny and unique atmosphere. The more you know Czech, the more you can enjoy them.

My dead cat: Post-hardcore band with some 90s American punk influence. Their quick strong songs do not leave you indifferent. There is no moment for rest in their shows.

Kvetoslav Dolejší: Incredible musician full of creativity. His wild and original music, called mess rock by himself, is always unpredictable.  If you want to explore the limits of rock, just listen to one of his songs…

Bear Love (UK), Ondřej Smeykal and Pavel Plánka: Touring together through all Czech Republic, their minimal atmospheric music will transport you to a spiritual world.  Gongs, didgeridoo and drums… always in contact with the nature, always in contact with life…

Lealoo: Post rock, trip-hop, electronica… Dreamy atmospheres with a hypnotic voice to make you quiver…

The “Iceberg” story

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I meet with Marion in Košutka, the north border of Plzeň, at the end of the tram line 4. It is close to the longest natural area in the city. During summer, everybody who stays in Plzeň goes there to have a bath in the lakes. Later, in September, walking through the trees, it is common to see some people looking for mushrooms, constituting one of the most characteristic stamps in Czech Republic.

But we are not going to stay in Košutka. It is 7:50 in the morning and some of her coworkers are waiting for us in the car. I must recognize I feel quite sleepy at first, not used to get up so early, but Marion, as always, is already full of energy. We leave Plzeň and took a single-lane road through the forest. After almost one year living here, it keeps surprising me how easy is to get inside the nature and how nice it looks even now, when the beauty of autumn has already gone. Our destination is Ledce, a small village of 600 inhabitants, only 10 minutes far from Košutka. There, next to the church, there is a charming rural house and a small farm, which are the main center of Ledovec, the organization where Marion is doing her EVS.

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She is 23 years old and comes from Pontrieux, a small village in Bretagne (France). After studying social work, and given the lack of opportunities in her field at her hometown, she decided to start a new life in Plzeň, where she arrived last May. Although she has worked in other places before, it is her first experience with people with mental health problems. Ledovec, which means “Iceberg” in English, is an NGO that offers psychosocial support to people with mental disabilities under the concept of mutual social rehabilitation. The name couldn’t appeals more to their philosophy. Normally, only one-ninth of the volume of an iceberg is above water. Regarding to people is pretty the same: “We often stay in the surface, when we see someone of them we ask: What’s the problem? But we don’t look more deeply, we don’t realize it doesn’t matter… there are a lot of things “under the sea” and there, is where we have to look at”, says Marion.

The morning starts early in Ledovec. At half past eight, I can meet for the first time some of the clients: Petr, Lukáš, Eliška, Jirka… Some of them remind me Marion a lot, always talking and laughin for something, as if there is nothing on earth which can annoy them. It is not strange that they really get on well… After the meeting, the domestic activities have been assigned: making the bread, making the laundry, cooking the lunch, taking care of the animals, washing the cars…  It is different everyday. The key is working together, no matter who is who and their handicaps. “We all have handicaps, you and I, for example, can’t speak Czech but it doesn’t prevent us from doing our things, we all just have to gain confidence…”, remarks Marion.

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In the farm you can bump into ships, chickens, cats, a really calm dog…  But what attracted me more were all the traditional instruments you can find there to do handcrafted work. For example, there is a room in the attic where people with psychiatric problems can learn to sew and create handmade jewelry. At three o’clock, after having an exquisite lunch all together and spending one hour drawing, playing games or just reflecting on the work done, the clients leave.

But the “farm” is just one part of Ledovec, an NGO which has been running already for 14 years.They offer counseling, therapeutic work, educational courses, employment support… Tuesday, for example, is the day for social activities and there is always some excursion to do. During the last month they have been in an ecofarm making juice, in an exhibition about “the twelve senses” in Prague, in a trip in Rabštejn nad Střelou…

And Thursday is the day of creativity (ceramic, drawing, painting…), which takes place inside a school in Plzeň. They also organize different craft events, a summer workcamp, cultural festivals and a very special project, “Cirkus Paciento”. The team spends around one week in one psychiatric hospital doing different activities dressed as clowns, a therapy which makes patients more active and sociable. The program finishes with a common circus for the entire hospital and the general public.

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In the future, Marion wants to keep working in the same field and improve her knowledge about it. When I asked her why is she doing it, she answers naturally: “I could tell you that I am here to have more experience, to gain more confidence… and this is true, of course, but the main reason is because I like it. I have fun everyday”.

The same feeling appears when she is asked about her life in the city. She looks at me strange, she smiles and just says: “I don’t know. I never thought about it. Plzeň is now my city. When I am coming back from a trip, I feel I am coming back home. Plzeň is my home”.

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A tourist story

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The well-known French author, Albert Camus, wrote once that “what gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country…we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. This is the most obvious benefit of travel. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being…”.

It would probably be a mistake to bring these thoughts to nowadays. When you are walking around the Staroměstské náměstí or crossing the Karlův most over the Vltava and give a look at these big groups of tourist focused on following the guides with the umbrellas, you realize that fear or any other deep feeling are not part of what they are experimenting. Now, everything is so organized that there is no time to be spontaneous, all is arranged in advance in order to not have any worries or inconveniences. Experiences are prefabricated in packages so everybody could see, think and feel absolutely the same about the places they are visiting. No more cultural shock, no more individual challenges, no more surprises…

Fortunately, there are still some ways to get closer to what Camus says. For example, if you are an EVS in a little village in Czech Republic, where nobody speaks English, you will definitely feel it more than once –no matter how helpful your mentor is or how much your organization prepare your arrival…-. In general, when you are having a long stay abroad, everything can affects you more, the good and the bad things, so your mood can easily change from ecstasy to melancholy and the experiences you live are undoubtedly more intense and deeper in some way.

But regarding to travelling there are two possibilities if you don’t want to be part of the pack. You can go to unknown places far from the tourist map, or you can travel to the most common cities but in a different way. For example, by hitchhiking or coachsurfing, two familiar words for every EVS as the budgets are not always high enough for a more common way.

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Margo, from Georgia, and Mariia, from Ukraine, can talk a lot about it. They are probably the ones who have travelled more during their EVS. In only six months, they have already been in ten different countries: Austria, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France… “We can be talking like this and decide to go to Italy tomorrow by hitchhiking.  We don’t need to have anything prepared”, says Maria, who highlights that the only support she needs is Margo, her best friend here.

They both arrived at Czech Republic last May. Margo is 25 years old and was born in Tkibuli, a town in the west-central part of Georgia, but lives in the capital, Tbilisi. She studied History and specialized in European Medieval Age. In two years she will be a doctor of Cultural Studies but before she wanted to see “the reality” in Europe. “I was always reading books and studying theory about Europe but now I have gained a lot of experience, a lot of informal education”.

Both Margo and Mariia are considered Europeans but at the same time they can explore the continent from a foreigner point of view. “In Ukraine it is not easy to get a Visa and travel for a long time, and this project lasts one year, so I asked myself, why not? I love travelling and I wanted to see how people are living in Europe”, says Mariia.

She is 21 years old and comes from a little village called Pidberiztsi. She left her work at a bank in Ternopil -a city of more than 200.000 inhabitants in the west part of Ukraine-, and her studies in International Marketing and Education to become an EVS. “This project has completely changed my life. I am happy here but you are always wondering if you chose correctly… I left a lot of things in Ukraine and I don’t know how it will be when I come back…”.

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Their new life takes place in a very special place. Not in a big city, as they used to, neither a town nor a village. It is in the middle of the nature. In Švýcárna, an ecological leisure center located in the breathtaking Moravian Karst, about half an hour far from Brno and close to the industrial town of Adamov, in South Moravia. The yellow, brown and orange of the fallen leaves shapes now all the slopes and hide somehow the amazing deep and long caves which are on the way.  The complex, formed by three main rural houses located in the lower side of the mountain, with a stream flowing next to it, looks as if it were painted for an old beautiful postcard.

Margo and Mariia live and work there together with other three volunteers: Francesco, from Italy, Mylene, from France, and Artyom, from Armenia. They all help in the cleaning of the area, organize projects with kids (handcraft activities, environmental education…) and participate in weekends or long term events (summer camps, volunteer weekends, etc.). “It is a different kind of work, a different kind of life, a challenge at first, but I like it. And it is healthier for sure”, says Margo.

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As her personal project, she decided to organize a weekend about her country. Me and other 14 people (some EVS, Erasmus, and other ones) went there and could taste “Khinkali” and “Lobio” or dance “Acharuli” and “Rachuli” for the first time in our lives. Her aim was to encourage people to visit their country in the same way she is visiting the other ones: getting to know their people, their traditions, their culture, their music…

Mariia is also planning an intercultural event: a youth exchange between Caucasus and Central Europe with people from Georgia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Czech Republic. The topic will be Intercultural Dialogue and they will be able to see and understand better their differences and similarities in education, religion, culture… As Margo says, “Czech Republic and Georgia are really different, the people attitude, the behavior, the culture, the human relations… but in the end, we are all humans, we all have the same feelings, we love, we hate… and this is common for everyone in the world”.

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Both Margo and Mariia surely have missed their home more than once during this year but despite their desires to come back, they couldn’t help keep travelling everywhere. “A new country is a new book, to read something in internet is not meaningful, if you just see it for once, you will understand it”, affirms Mariia, who admits that hitchhiking or coachsurfing can sometimes be a risky experience: “It is really great because we meet different people who told us many interesting things about their places which we couldn’t know otherwise, but you must know that you can also have a bad experience, not everybody is honest and you must be ready for that”.

What is sure is that if any of us decide to visit Georgia, Margo will help us to have an experience full of knowledge and emotions. For the time being, we can at least be satisfied with her dance lessons or her exquisite cuisine. And now we know we must go there. And learn about it. And feel it. And experience it. And get lost among its amazing mountains. And be “seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back…”. And let ourselves be surprised and touched. And “quiver to the depths of our being…”.P1030983

The house of all volunteers

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The other day I was talking with another volunteer about how strange is to feel more like “at home” in a friend’s house where you spend one or two nights than in your own place. For different reasons we both agreed that our places are far from this “feeling”. In my case, I won´t definitely miss my dormitory. May be some people I met here or the amazing park which is close to it but not the different rooms where I had to spend so many nights this year.

Fortunately, in some sense it encouraged me to be always outside, to enjoy the “city life” when I am here in Plzeň and to travel whenever it is possible. For the first time in my life I feel like a nomad, and I love it. Meanwhile, this old dormitory, ugly, harsh and unpleasant, is just the necessary place where I sleep.

Amara –the other volunteer- and I were talking about it because we have already been in a very different place. A warm, comfortable and friendly house where you can feel “at home”. It is a flat in an old grey fourth-floors building in Kafkova ulice (Prague 6), not so far from main Prague spots like the Castle and Letenské sady but far enough to feel that you are in a common Czech neighborhood and not in the middle of this tourist massive attraction which is the center of Prague.

It is actually the flat of Adna and Nora, two volunteers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain who are doing their EVS in the Association for Voluntary Activities INEX-SDA. I don´t know if it is because of the comfortable rooms, their decoration, their close and open-minded character or their relaxing way of life, but I am sure Amara and I are not the only ones who feel it. Many EVS, workcampers, coachsurfers, friends and friends of friends from all over the world have had the opportunity to stay there and enjoy a quiet, friendly and free stay before the rush which can be visiting Prague.

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Last week I was there again because I wanted to see Adna´s presentation about her country, where I could spend some days this summer in an unforgettable trip. She is from a small town called Visoko but studied Psychology in the capital, Sarajevo. After volunteering for some years in an NGO there, she decided to have some experience abroad and came to Czech Republic.

Adna is working now in the educational department of INEX. One of her main projects has been “Football for development”, a one-month campaign about global education which tries to raise awareness about racism and discrimination connecting Czechs and Kenyans through football. She spent one month in different regions in Czech Republic giving workshops, drama performances and organizing football tournaments with people from Kenya and Czech Republic. What is interesting about these competitions is that the final winner is not the team with the highest score but the one that all mediators agree that has been playing the fairest football.

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During this year Adna and Nora have been always in contact with people from all over the world. As INEX is the organization in charge of coordinating all the international summer workcamps in Czech Republic, they have had the opportunity to become leaders and deal with some of them. For example, Adna was recently in Chříč, a very small village near Plzeň, restoring an ancient brewery; while Nora was cleaning in an organic farm which had been highly damaged after June floods – but in the end they managed to plant some tomatoes and cucumbers-.

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The aim of INEX is to carry out, support and promote international voluntary work and intercultural education. They are not only focused on bringing foreigners to Czech Republic but also arrange voluntary placements abroad for Czech volunteers in workcamps, EVS organizations and other specific projects (for instance, there are some people working in India right now). Nora leads the campaign “Your Experience Counts”, in which they ask for some feedback to all the Czechs who are currently abroad. As she is working in the volunteering department of INEX, she is monitoring all of them and also writing the evaluation of the foreigners who came here for the summer workcamps (statistics, motivations, things to improve…).

Nora is 24 years old and comes from Zaragoza, a big city in the north of Spain between Madrid and Barcelona. After finishing her studies in Law, she wanted to live abroad for some time. She spent already some months in Ireland and chose this project in Czech Republic because she wanted to see how an NGO works from inside as she pictures herself in the future working for non-profit projects.

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Both Nora and Adna miss a little bit the warmth and good cheer of their hometowns but, although the adaptation was difficult, they are glad they are living here. They think their EVS has changed them somehow, they have now more experience, more knowledge and have met many people from different cultures and backgrounds. They enjoy more the relaxing times and how close they are to nature here, but also the opportunities of living in a big city like Prague (exhibitions, concerts, cinema, hanging out with friends to different places everyday…).

Now, they are working in their personal project, a sharing guide for EVS where you can find ideas and support for workshops and other activities. For me, they are already the support I need every time I go to Prague. Their kindness, their consideration, their generosity… As I see, the house of Adna and Nora is the perfect metaphor for INEX. A place where everybody is more than welcome…

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The last days of summer

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I come from a place where there are no seasons –the temperature is always around 22 degrees- so people usually say we live in an eternal spring. Although I wouldn´t change it for anything, it is true that sometimes I miss the change. I miss feeling the first warm days of spring after a long winter; I would just like to appreciate the beauty of each season, the different colors, the smells…

Now it is already autumn in Czech Republic.  But it is so cold that I would think it is winter if the leaves wouldn’t still be falling from the trees. This week, for instance, the temperature has dropped to 0 degrees and although the sun is shining and there are no clouds I have shivered more than once when I didn´t wrap up well.

At least inside my bedroom, after turning the heat on for the first time, I feel really warm. And I can´t help but thinking about the last days of summer. The last days of –for many reasons- one of the best summers of my life.

These last days took place in Lomeček, a place near the border with Bavaria, in the foothills of the Bohemian Forest (1 hour driving south from Plzeň). It is neither a town nor a village; it is just the nature itself. One big, deep and amazingly clear pond, where diving or just getting inside an underwater cabin you can see a wide range of fishes, is the main point of this beautiful location.

Around this pond took place the first edition of Remind Festival. When you arrived there, you can notice that there is something different in comparison with other musical events. It is difficult to explain with words –and more if you are not writing in your mother tongue…- What I want to mean is that, although other festivals take place in the nature, you have always the feeling that you are staying in a “festival”, between the stages, the shops, the camping zone… you are in a new city, a temporary one but one anyways. So you feel that the nature is just a decoration, a picture for the festival photos… but nothing else.

Here was different. Yes, there was one stage and a restaurant and the tents… but the intervention was almost nothing and was done carefully. No publicity, no annoying promoted spaces, no constructions against the landscape… The feeling that you are in the nature never leaves you, that you are in the middle of nowhere, living one of these special moments when you just have to live, and feel, and dream… you don’t have to think about the next day or the next minute, you don’t have to think at all.

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And listening to the music –for example the amazing ambient and spiritual music made by the gongs of Bear Love, the didgeridoo of Ondřej Smeykal and the drums of Pavel Plánka on a boat in the middle of the water – surrounded by other people, known or unknown, and looking at all the breathtaking views around you; you realize that this ‘nowhere’’ where are you right now turns out to be something special, something meaningful, a place without a place, a kind of invisible network where people, music, nature and something else are part of the same indissoluble space.

And although the night arrives and you are walking through the light of the candles that illuminate the paths around the pond, the festival has just started. Some bands are playing and you don’t have to worry about anything, it doesn’t mind if four people will have to sleep in a tent for two or if you don’t know how to come back home, you just need to let yourself be carried away by the familiar atmosphere… you just need to feel the music as much as the deejays who are playing late in the night, and the nature, and the thousands of stars above you…

And everything will be fine.

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So the next day the sun is shining again. It is really hot and, although I hadn’t planned before –that means I don’t have neither towel nor swim bath- I can’t help but taking a bath in the pond– it doesn’t mind that the water was on the contrary quite cold.

And it is at that precisely moment, swimming in the pond of Lomeček after a long and amazing night full of concerts and not much sleep, when I realize it would be the last day of summer. It could have happened that there was another hot day in the future –then I could see it wasn’t- but the summer, my summer, should finish there that day. Maybe, for the first time of my life I wanted to give a start and a close ending to a ‘season’. A happy ending, as if it was a classical Hollywood movie. So when I come back to my island, where you can’t really differentiate between summer or winter, spring or autumn, I will be able to remember the summer of 2013, a great summer which started already in the end of May –that is another story…- and finished the first weekend of September, in the Remind Festival. In Lomeček, where I want to think there is still music, flirting with the nature, accompanying the dancing of the leaves that must be now falling from the trees…

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