Due to a recent project, that I can't tell you too much about yet, I'm reveling in memories. Almost three years ago I spent six weeks in Greece with the sea turtles. This trip was my way to heal the most difficult time of my life. A few months before, Aline, one of my best friends, had died and with her the life that I knew passed away, too. My world broke into a million pieces and it was as if a part of me had died as well. The time that came after was filled with pain and grief and I was overwhelmed all the time. I needed to reorientate myself, to redirect my orbit, but I couldn't do it in my day-to-day life. And so I embarked on this journey to Greece to fulfill a dream that I had had for so long, to heal and to find myself again.
I spent the first week in the mountains joining a yoga retreat and then four weeks as a volunteer for a sea turtle protection organization.
While writing these lines I can smell the pine trees, feel the sun (and the sweat) on my skin and see the little turtles wriggling in my hand. This journey has a special place in my heart and I would like to revive it here again. Not only did this trip save my life, it also gifted me with the love of writing. Through an app I shared my turtle adventure during this time. In a little summer turtle series I would like to take you along on this journey over the next few weeks. I will re-share those first blog posts and a few thoughts with you. Hopefully I can not only give you an understanding of my own story, but also ignite a passion for Greece's sea turtles. Enjoy! =)
The first night at the turtle-camp was hard and again so different from what I had expected. This time arriving was difficult, because the last week at the yoga retreat was almost magical. Saturday night after a last dinner my new yoga friends dropped me off at the campsite in the western part of the Peloponnese. Saying goodbye we all cried and with a bleeding heart I left this first chapter of my trip behind. I was welcomed by the heat, the insects, many very young people and a tent that is so small compared to the luxury tent I inhabited at the retreat. It was loud at the camp, nobody seemed to be interested that I was here and I had the urge to turn back immediately. Instead I hid in my tent, like a turtle in its shell.
After two days I haven't completely settled down yet, but it's ok. I was already granted many amazing moments. My new home lies behind a sand dune covered by a pine forest. I found a quiet place to meditate and to watch the sunset. Everywhere you can smell the pine trees and unexpectedly I can eat vegan here. And today, today I rose at five in the morning, got driven to an untouched beach and searched it for new nests and traces of hatched baby-turtles. Although I'm not used to walk on the sand for that long yet, my first morning shift was great. Completely humbled I was allowed to relocate a nest that a mama-turtle had laid too close to the shoreline. The turtle organization's mantra is to not mess with the natural cycles, but to only intervene when it's absolutely necessary. This nest needed our help, because the next big wave would have washed it away and hence destroyed the eggs and the chance of surviving.
The mother turtle returns after 20 years to the same spot where she hatched to lay her eggs, up to a 100 at a time. My nest contained 76 white eggs shaped like pingpong balls. They were warm and felt very soft and I cannot believe that maybe not even one baby-turtle will survive. Only one in a thousand will reach adulthood.
I'm eager to learn more about these incredible animals and I think I'm at the right place.
Sunset from "my" dune
Track of a mama-turtle
Tracks of hatchlings
My home for the next four weeks, the "space-tent" =)