So on Thursday, 16th of May, Manuel, Silvia from Kurtuvėnai Regional Park, Marion and Olesya from Gražutė Regional Park and Giovanni from Dzūkija National Park, Daniele and I met each other in stifling Kaunas. We had a short coffee break with Leonas, discussing our lives in the parks, and then Manuel took us for a short tour around the Botanical Garden and showed us the Green House, which is a home of around 130 beautiful exotic plants. As I am very fond of palms and cactuses this walk was as exciting for me as "Disney land" is for small children. Manuel told us interesting facts about the plants and I can tell that some of them were quite fascinating. Who could tell that the banana plant is actually a kind of grass? And did you know that the fruit of the carob tree have the same size and weight and because of that they are used as a measurement in jewellery and one pea is one carat.
After experiencing different climates in the Green House we went to our accommodation to find a nice surprise from Manuel, who is always so thoughtful, and after unpacking we started preparing for our presentation. We designed a big poster with the map of Lithuania, showing the location of our parks, and decorated it with our national flags and pictures of our everyday life and activities. Once we finished we had to blow up 300 balloons for the birthday of the caterpillar. That was not an easy task as they were exploding in our faces but it was also very funny. And the caterpillar is not a real animal - it is a row of trees ranged in the shape of a larva and the employees of the park decorated the first tree as a smiling head.
On the next day Margot from Žemaitija National Park arrived to join us. We arranged the materials we brought and decorated our tent with balloons and the poster. The programme included a concert for children and eating a birthday cake at the end. A lot of people visited our tent asking about EVS, our parks and took brochures describing the rare plants. We also walked around and took part in different workshops.
But the best part was visitting the terrarium where we were so happy to meet the very social iguanas who enjoy fondling so much that they acted more like cats than like lizards. Even though I am against keeping wild animals captured I can tell that these iguanas looked quite happy and really like human company.
When the Fascination of plants Day finished we all went in the old town of Kaunas to enjoy the night life. Even eating the worst pizza in our lives could not spoil the mood. But our gustatory sensations were flattered on the next day when we had a homemade pasta prepared by Giovanni and Daniele. Lodging in with italians is great for the belly-worship but definitely not good for the body shape, but I can live with it.. :)
We would like to thank to Manuel and the other volunteers for the splendid time we spent together!
After that Daniele and I went to Vilnius to see the street music festival - there were some really good bands and DJ's but unfortunately we arrived too late so we could not listen to many of them. Anyway we had fun meeting a guy from the Netherlands, who came to Lithuania to participate in a walking event - he has to walk 100 km in 24 hours, and having dinner with him and with Marion and Olesya who were also there. One hint - when you order beer in the restaurant instead of "little" say "small", otherwise you can end up with a liter of beer just like Marion did! There was also a fire show and an exhibition of old Russian cars and trams.
Once we were back from our trip we went to Meironys for a spring celebration. We took part in a march through the village presenting each house with a branch of a birch to keep the families safe from evil spirits and to bring them health and luck. There were some local folk singers and dancers who performed a small concert in the forest. The festival continued with a feast with dishes, brought by local people, and omelette, prepared right before that from 200 eggs. All people enjoyed some dances before the summer storm started and put the holiday to an end.