In the beginning of October, after hosting hundreds of international volunteers in Kuterevo, we sent, for the first time, a group of young from Kuterevo joined with a girl from Karlovac for the Youth Exchange in Spain “Pilla tu semilla y acribilla+”. This project, support by the programme Youth in Action, was organised with the Spanish organisation De Amicitia.
Matej, Annamaria, Glorija, Amélie (Kuterevo team!) and Ivana (from Karlovac), went to Andalusia to discover local culture and meet local organizations involved in environmental and nature conservation projects.
For us it was nonsense to participate in an “environmental” project but to travel in a very polluting way, so we went there by train. With not less than 55 hours of travel, we had time to enjoy the landscape, to get to know each other and to practice a bit English 🙂
Once in Pegalajar, the first village where we stayed, we met the other participants, coming from France and Germany, and young Spanish from the local youth center.
Pegalajar is known for its “charka”, a reserve of water situated in the middle of the village. Important cultural symbol and center of community life, the charca went dry in the 80-ies, water being too much exploited. A local organization was created and fought for 20 years before water came back. Keeping the spring alive and maintaining local cultures and vegetables gardens which depend on this irrigation are an important challenge for the local community, and their long fight and success is a very inspiring story. It’s was especially interesting for us, because something similar is present here in our karstic region, where people and animals learned how to live with limited and scare water resources.
Situated in the biggest area of olive trees (mono)culture, we also visited in Pegalajar a women initiative producing bio cosmetic with olive oil, an olive oil company, and we went for beautiful hikes in the surrounding area, always trying to reflect on the link between people and their environment and local productions.
After a week in Pegalar, we went to another place, Jodar, to discover the project Huerto de la Cora, learn about agroecology and to help with the creation of a “Garden of the world”. There, we talked a lot about seeds, local and from all over the world, we made seed bombs that we spread in the nature 🙂
Besides all these visits and meetings, this Youth Exchange was as well the place for all participants to share their different cultures with each other. We had several cultural evening, for all countries involved, and our Croatian group was very happy to represent Kuterevo and to present the bear refuge project.
But Spanish evenings, with local inhabitants willing to take us to nice places and to introduce us to their customs were for sure the funniest moments of the project 😉