Friday, 1 November 2019

It's been quite a while, hasn't it ?
I missed you too, old friend.
I know you've been waiting for my final entree. I was nervous. This is a goodbye. I was never good with goodbyes.
The knowledge we might never see each other again. The necessity to find the right words. The bittersweet conflict between the desire to stay and the longing for home.
So, where to start ?
I came to Estonia to work as a volunteer. Acquiring new skills wasn't my main motivation. It was the desire to get out of my comfort zone. Something I've always struggled with. Yet I think it's the best way I have to better understand myself. Having difficulties, and facing them brought me so much more than the easy childhood I lived. So I wanted to jump in the unknown.
Of course, it wasn't the only reason I came in Estonia. I always enjoyed nature, my awakening about the environmental crisis helped me appreciate nature so much more. I wanted, even in a very small scale, help protect our environment and learn how people do it. Spending time in islands, forests, or meadows, despite the occasional lack of comfort, brought me satisfaction and wonder.
Estonia is a lovely country, full of lovely people. Despite not speaking eesti, they always made sure I wasn't left alone (until they realized I don't mind being on my own). The nature is very beautiful there, and the cities have a charm french ones don't. I didn't know what to expect with Estonian food; I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't all for me (I never was able to get used to black bread), but it was good. I was surprised by the variety of ice-creams flavors they have. And of course, I fell in love with their saunas. There's quite nothing like swimming in a fresh pond after basking in the sauna's heat, or being vigorously beaten with branches.
I came in Estonia after having some difficult times in France. I was feeling lost, small; I wasn't enjoying myself anymore. My stay in Estonia was a breeze of fresh air for me. I feel much better now, one month after the mission than I felt one month before.
I would love to come back to Estonia. I still want to travel more, to push myself further out and try new things. I'm not ready to settle, as long as I can afford not to, I won't.
Are you still reading this ? If you are, thank you. Thank you for your patience, and your understanding. I hope spending time with me wasn't too much work. I'm still growing; most of the time, I feel more like a child than an adult. I haven't found myself yet. I will do my best to search and find my answers and at the same time have a positive impact on the people around me, and my environment.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Hello there !

The last week-end of September was my last talgud. For this one, I would be group leader with Anu. We discussed (via mail and face-to-face) about which meals to prepare. We talked about the transportation and side activities as well.
Once everything was settled, I bought the groceries for the talgud on Friday afternoon, and we then drove to Neeruti around half-past five.
We arrived at the hotel a little over an hour and a half later, joining the other half of the group.
The work itself started on saturday morning, where we cut down all the trees and bushes in an area 10 km away, which was essential for the spadefoot toad, which cannot jump and therefore need a flat space.
My last group picture in Estonia....
We were joined for a while by two ELF volunteers who were passing by for another mission. We ate lunch at a café near the hotel, before going back to work, finishing early. We went hiking on the short Neeruti hiking trail (1.5 km) before enjoying a warm sauna (my last one !).
On Sunday, we hiked the long Neeruti trail (3.5 km), and then hiked another one in a marsh.

The lakes were gorgeous, with their clear water and the trees surrouding them

The marsh was also gorgeous, with a wild feeling to it
We then drove home in the afternoon, after dropping a few of us at a train station.
Tere !
On Thursday the 18th, after an eventful holiday in Finland, I was driven by a mother of 3 lovely kids to Lihula, to attend the Matsalu Nature Film Festival (17th edition), organised by ELF's member Silvia. The festival (named after the neighbouring Matsalu National Park, a very important bird sanctuary) lasted until Sunday the 22th. After a traditional dance performed by local children, and a few speeches, we saw one of the selected movies (about a cheetah shelter in southern Africa) before attending a gala.

Then, for the next three days, we watched documentaries on many different subjects, set in many different countries, shot in many different styles.
Many activities were held in parallel. Such as tours which were organised for people to see birds in Matsalu. One country musician from Tennessee played for us at the hotel on Friday evening. On Saturday evening, another artist played music with instruments he made himself (a bike wheel, a log with nails....), asking us to sing along, or to clap in rhythm. Several activities were organised for children.

Before the concert on saturday, the jury gave the awards to the winning movies. Which were, among with the nominees, displayed again on Sunday.
As for myself, I helped bring in a donation box, and wore the flying squirrel mascot, taking a few pictures with kids. On Sunday, we got back home to Tartu.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Hello !

On Friday the 6th of September, we left for Vatla, arriving at our sleeping place (an old school) there for the evening, joining there our group-leader Eva-Maria and the rest of the group. After eating a warm meal, an entomologist gave us a presentation of his work and showed us conserved dead butterflies in boxes. He then caught some locals insects to further the explanations.

A white sheet and a srong light are all you need to catch insects at night

We then started to work on Saturday morning, driving to a nearby sandy meadow. We pulled out junipers, and cut down bushes to clear out the meadow, which is essential for the Nutterjack Toad.
Of course, after a good day of work, we went to enjoy a warm sauna, before going back to the house to sleep.
The crew working hard for the nutterjack

On Sunday, we went on a hike (about 1 km), visited the place where one of us (a French student here for his intership) bred with his coworkers nutterjack toads to release them in the wild once adults.
Estonia: Trees, trees everywhere !

 We also visited a museum, and watched a documentary (what a nice foreshadowing !) on the local fauna before going back home.

Thank you for this lovely week-end :)

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Bien le bonjour !

The 22th of August, we drove to Osmussaar. Thanks to the wind, the boat ride was unforgivable. Kirke and I, the closest to the bow of the boat, felt like being on a rollercoaster. 
Once arriving on the island, we were driven by locals to our house, which also works as a small museum. The others (those coming from Tallinn) had already started cooking, it was ready soon after our arrival. We got to know each other (at this point you know the drill), and played some cards. 
Having only 2 days of work (Friday and Saturday), and not being sure about the weather, we set out to work earlier in the morning than usually, cutting down junipers and bushes, and burn them afterwards.
Because I'm happy !
After a hard day of work, we enjoyed a nice rest in the early evening, some of us going on a walk by the beautiful beach, despite the wind and rain. Many of us had to dry their clothes inside that night.
On Saturday, we once again started working early in the morning, cutting down many more trees and bushes. After some earned rest in the evening, we climbed the lighthouse, offering a gorgeous view of the island, before setting for a sauna.
I think this lighthouse just had a brilliant idea

Our neighbour drove us there, talking about the island's history; there is much to say about Osmussar, I'll just point out that the Swedish name of the island translates to Odin's Grave. In front of the sauna was a small tub, which allowed a nice transition from the cold sea (around 15°) to the sauna (around 70-80°).
Draw me like one of your french girl
We left on Sunday after breakfast, some of us staying a few more hours. The boat ride back was less adventurous, though still as enjoyable, and we then drove back home (what a twist !)

Hello. It's been quite a while, hasn't it ? I missed you too, old friend. I know you've been waiting for my final entree. I w...