The simple life
I spend this weekend on a little public awareness road trip through the finest hotels in the Peloponnes. I don't fit in. My feet are dirty from walking barefoot, my face is dark from the sun, my clothes are washed by hand and I can't remember when I showered properly with warm water for the last time. Under my fingernails there is still sand from the morning and night shifts, my hair is salty and I sleep on the floor, surrounded by buzzing insects. Each day I eat a variation of ratatouille with rice or potatoes, at night I lie on the dune looking up to the stars. I live in a community with strangers that have become friends. When I'm sad I'm held, I laugh loudly and I play in the sea. It's a simple life, the life here in the turtle-camp, but I don't need more.
Now I have a bracelet that grants me unlimited access to very good food and for the first time in four weeks I catch a glimpse of myself in a big mirror in the bathroom. Watching them from my perspective, the people here live in a dreamworld, completely shut off from reality. At home they will say that they have been on holiday in Greece, but they haven't seen the true Greece. They haven't waited for the bus for over an hour nor have the experienced the stunning, untouched nature with its terribly long centipedes. They don't know that this region accommodates the most sea turtle nests and that their hotels pose a great threat to these animals. They look at me and they see their personnel in me and I look at them and I'm just so happy that I can taste the simple life.
Today in reversed order you for once read the next part of my turtle adventure first. This trip to the four stars hotels shaped me and how I want to live my life. One part of my work as a volunteer was generating public awareness. Normally I talked to tourists in the area of the camp and explained about the turtles and their nesting behavior. Most people there were very interested and surprised that these animals can be found in Greece. Every few weeks a group of volunteers embarked on this trip up north to visit the luxury hotels in order to inform the tourist about the sea turtles and to collect donations for the non-profit organization. The interest and the behavior of the people here was very different. I was often met with indifference and sensation mongering. The turtles were either of no interest to them or if they were interested, all they wanted from me was to book a tour where they could swim with the turtles and pet them. Honestly speaking these two days left a disillusioning impression on me. I couldn't get back fast enough, to the turtle-camp, to my simple tent, to the chaos and the dirt. Although the life in this camp was challenging at times, I felt at home there, because I learned that this was what I wanted: Simplicity. Going back to the roots. A life in and with nature.
The overflow most of us in the western world live in became very present to me during this trip to those hotels. Of course it's not everywhere as crass as in the luxury hotels, but I think all of us can improve and re-learn how to live on a smaller footprint. I noticed in my own day to day life that it's a constant process and that I mustn't expect from myself to do it perfectly, because I get overwhelmed having the perfect footprint as my goal. Therefore I try to do my best, I compromise every now and then, but I also do better whenever I can. Do I really need this piece of clothing? Or can I make it myself? Do I really need these cookies? Or can I bake them myself? Ever since I live here in the mountains I started doing things myself more often and I truly enjoy it. Not only did I start to grow my own vegetables, which is an extraordinarily rewarding process, but I also make my snacks and some of my clothes myself. A few days ago I cooked a curry that - besides the spices and the coconut milk - only contained ingredients I harvested from my garden or foraged from the forest. What a wonderful feeling!
I'm not saying that all of you have to become vegan or can only travel by foot or bike. But I deem it important that we are reminded of this simpler life again and by doing so supporting our planet, Mother Earth. She is suffering and I know that you can feel it, too...