When I read the posts I wrote almost three years ago a strange feeling takes hold of me. It's as if I am reliving everything, as if this time of my life exists parallel to the one I'm living now. I read somewhere that our idea of a time that runs linearly isn't correct. We learned that events in our life follow a chronological order, therefore can be put in a horizontal line, one happens after the other. Instead you should picture the concept of time as a pile, thinking of it as something vertical where every part of the pile is existing at the same moment. I am discovering this idea of time again and I think that maybe I really am here whilst also being in Greece.
Be that as it may, I read my words and I look at the photos of this trip and I am filled with love for that version of me. The Silvana from back then was so incredibly heartbroken when she embarked on this journey. She was deeply wounded and she felt lost in her grief and her pain. She didn't know who she was anymore. Working with the turtles she experienced happiness for the first time in months. She was finally able to feel at ease and to bring light into the darkness of her chest. Her system, which had collapsed a few months before due to her friend passing away, got re-calibrated on this journey and I am so grateful to the Silvana of those days that she stepped onto this path and followed this adventure, because without her I wouldn't exist.
In the heart of nature
Nature here in Greece has its own pulse. I can feel how I start living with this very special rhythm with every day that passes. We wake up very early, sometimes before the first cicada starts its song. The waves sway us to sleep at noon. The pine forest protects us from the sun and as soon as the flamingly red ball disappears behind the island of Zakynthos our energy rises again. For we are waiting for the darkness and the wonder that accompanies the night. Now in August the first loggerhead turtles are hatching and making their way to sea. Only one in a thousand will reach adulthood and, if it's a female, return to the same place to lay her eggs in 15 to 20 years. Only one in a thousand! That's how nature arranged it. The damage we human beings create is left out of consideration. The plastic, the light pollution, the fishing industry... all of that and so much more is the reason why not even one in a thousand makes it. I can do my part, so that as many as possible reach the sea. I put boxes over nests that were laid on beaches affected by light pollution to let the hatchlings free at another, safer place. I am looking for tracks and collecting data. I speak with people and tell them about our work. I show those tiny creatures their path to the sea by digging trenches when they hatch at daylight.
Yesterday night I had my first night shift, which is called "boxing". Almost all nests are laid for this season and the little ones are starting to hatch. Normally they do that without our help. They usually follow the brightest horizon, which is the sea, and the strongest source of light, which is the reflection of the stars and the moon on the water.
In the village nearby we have to support the babies to a certain degree, because they can't find the water due to too much light coming from the bars and tavernas. During sunset one of our teams puts boxes on the nests that we expect to hatch soon. The night shift checks on the boxes every hour and collects the freshly hatched turtles in order to transport them to another place outside the village and to set them free protected by the darkness. In doing so it is of utmost importance that the turtles find their way on their own. They have to strengthen their lungs and muscles and to memorize the place by means of the magnetic field of the earth before emerging into the water.
To hold that bucket with all the little turtles in my hands is an indescribable feeling. To take the hatchlings out of the box and to feel their tiny, but so strong bodies is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. And to see them disappear in the vastness of the sea and to not know what will happen with them from now on, breaks my heart every time.
But in these moments all that exists is me and them and I could cry out of happiness, because I am granted a deep glance into nature's soul.
Boxes are put on top of the nests that might hatch tonight. (The stones are there so that the many stray dogs can't open the grid.)
A bucket filled with hatchlings, illuminated by my infrared-headlight.
A baby turtle journeys towards the sea during daylight, expected by an uncertain future.