Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scent of remembrance

Has it ever happened to you when you accidentally smell a certain scent and then memories just start to emerge?! I have always been amazed by this..

It has been almost three months since I came to Lithuania. I didn't notice when the time passed by - now it is the end of June, the weather is kindly disposed to us and gives us the opportunity to travel a lot. So pretty soon I was assigned with a new task - to go by bike to the small villages scattered around the park and to take pictures of small pieces of architecture like crosses and wooden carvings which are very typical for Lithuania and you can not see in any other country. That was the best thing I could possibly do – I am not very good with the camera but I really enjoy taking pictures so this was a chance for me to improve my skills and gain some practice.



And so I spent a couple of days riding my bike and discovering the beauty of Lithuanian countryside. The villages here are so small – some of them consist of only four or five houses, and still they are so beautiful – huddled up in the forest or basking peacefully of the sun on the shore of an undisturbed lake.

And the nature that surrounds you wherever you go with all of its sounds and scents contributes to your good mood! And so I am all by myself, riding my bike, enjoying the beautiful scenery and listening to the cheerful songs of the birds and then all of a sudden a sweet remembrance from my childhood reaches me from the dusted drawers of my memory. But what did cause that? I start to think and then I feel the scent of the blossoming lime-trees. Yes, it must be them – I remember the old lime-tree by my grandparents’ house. I also remember the savour coming through the window and waking me up for the carefree summer that lies ahead. But then I remember a cup. Yes, a cup full of linden tea which I hate so much. It is winter and the holidays are in between and I am again with my grandparents. But this time I am sick and my grandmother is making me drink this awful liquid I hate so much. But it is nice, you know, how she is bustling around the kitchen, worried about my sore throat. I remember the fire, roaring in the stove, and the cat, purring pleased in front of it. I would like to go through this moment again and yep, I would pour the tea again in the flowerpot when grandma doesn’t look! But this time I would also kiss her on the chick and tell her that I love her. 


And thus, lost in my thoughts I reach a very beautiful lake with a small bridge overgrown with rush. I stop to take pictures and to dip my feet in the cool water. I sit on the shore and frown at the burning sun. But then another memory brings back the smile on my face. And this time it is caused by a horse! You see, not only enjoyable smells can remind you of something. This time I remember myself waiting for my grandfather to take his daily nap after lunch so I can go to old Sabrina and give her some chocolates. He says sweets are not good for animals but she likes it so much that when she sees me she makes that funny toothy face until I give her some – how can I help it then?! Unfortunately I have only water in my backpack so I can’t treat this gorgeous.

Anyway I am well rested now and so I continue my trip. I visit a lot of beautiful places, talk with many nice local people (in a strange blend of Lithuanian, English and Russian language), take lots of pictures not only of the objects I am supposed to but also of everything that impresses me. And then I set off for home. As I ride through the forest I wonder what will remind me of Lithuania and my experience here. And then I sense it…the sweet scent of wild strawberries!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Camp

Right after coming back to reality from the medieval fairy-tale, we had been in during the weekend, Daniele and I embarked on another adventure - the summer camp. So we spent a week at Ginučiai Watermill with 10 kids from different parts of Lithuania to learn together about traditional Lithuanian crafts and dances.

The weather was perfect - sunny and warm all the time so we enjoyed every minute outside singing and dancing. Well, actually, Daniele and I sang and danced only the first day and after that we mostly enjoyed long walks around the village and in the forest and relaxing sun baths. We also had a very cute company - a couple of swans with their feathery ducklings.

On the next day we had to do our second-day visitor monitoring and it was quite intense as I had nearly 500 tourists that day and I didn't even start in the morning! But I really enjoyed it - actually visitor monitoring is the best job I have ever done!  One tip to the volunteers 2014 - when you do the visitor monitoring, choose Paluše beach and Ginučiai Watermill - it is the most strenuous but it is worth it - you get the chance to talk with a lot of interesting people, most of whom are very nice, and also to enjoy the sun, and I can tell you that you don't even notice when the day has passed by.  Meanwhile the children went around the village for a walk and visited some old people and listened to their stories.

On Thursday Daniele and I made presentations about traditional crafts in our countries and after that joined the children's tutors in making a "Friendship chain" - while twisting a special line we had to think and say a wish for the kids. In the afternoon we all went to Ladakalnis Hill where the children had to take part in a special task prepared by the park. They had to find various items hidden in the woods and to solve different riddles in order to get to the next one. After running around I thought they would be exhausted, but nope - late in the evening we danced around the campfire and we even devoted a prayer to the tutors and to the TEA! :)

I don't mind going late to bed but not when you are being woken up in the morning by the drums and the tambourine. Well, this was a tradition in this summer camp and as you can see most of us were not very fascinated.. :)

The last day the children prepared themselves for the concert they were going to perform for the local people - they made a last rehearsal and after that drew different posters and prepared the decoration. Daniele and I helped for the English poster and cheered everybody with strawberries from the forest. The concert was very beautiful and everybody enjoyed it when at the end of it the children invited the guests to dance together with them. Daniele and I showed our moves too! The children even surprised us with a song they have written the night before for their tutors and for us and which they performed at the end of the concert as gratitude.


It was a hot day so after the performance we all went to get cool in the river and to swim in the stream coming from the millstones. And after that for our greatest regret it was over. But we made really good friends with the children and we are going to miss the time we spent with them!


On 15th and 16th June Daniele and I visited one of the most popular tourist destinations in Lithuania - Trakai Island Castle. It was built back in the 14th century and for a short time it had military importance. It also served as the royal summer residence and later as a prison. The castle was damaged a couple of times and finally reconstructed in the 20th century. Ever since then it is a major tourist attraction - nowadays it is turned into a museum where different expositions can be seen. Well, we definitely did not like the room with stuffed animals..

The purpose of our visit was not only to see the castle but to take part in a medieval festival which took place there. We felt like we were in a fairy-tale - there was very nice medieval music, people were dressed in medieval clothes. There also were different crafts, dances and a knight battle where people in traditional knight armours demonstrated combat positions.

So we enjoyed the weekend in the nice company of Giovanni, the volunteer in Dzūkija National Park, Dimcho, another Bulgarian in Lithuania who I met on the airport, and the very tasty beer with honey!