Wetlands II

2nd of February | World Wetlands Day

It’s finally here! After an amazing week in Tartu, it’s time to fulfil the promise made at the end of the youth exchange: raising awareness on the value of wetlands.

Upon checking the official website on wetlands (yes, that’s something real!), I ended up choosing a place close to my hometown.

Pateira de Fermentelos

40º33’52’N | 008º30’28’W

Ramsar Site Number: 2089

Even though I was not able to visit this place upon deciding on writing about it, I have very fond memories of being there.
Pateira de Fermentelos, despite its somewhat unusual name, is the largest freshwater lagoon of the Iberian Peninsula, spanning around 1,599 ha. Located in the district of Aveiro, it sits on the confluences of two rivers: Águeda and Cértima. In 2013, the Pateira de Fermentelos became the 17th place in Portugal recognised by Ramsar as an important ecological ecosystem, incredibly rich in biodiversity and provider of plenty of services vital to our planet.

pateira

This site is home to important populations of aquatic birds, like the little bittern and the black kite and different sorts of ducks. In addition, local fish, such as largemouth bass, carp and perch, and the commercial popularity of crayfish and rays, support the freshwater fishing industry of the region.

In addition to being a living sanctuary, the Pateira, as a wetland, provides some important ecosystem services, such as: groundwater recharge, flood control, sediment trapping and maintenance of water supply for both natural and human-made ecosystems.

The largest threat factors which might affect the ecological status of the site are essentially intensive farming, cattle raising, and contamination of water and soils by industrial and urban infrastructures. The municipality of Águeda has implemented a plan for the site which provides a set of strategies and actions aiming at the sustainable development of the area, including the creation of several pedestrian routes around the lagoon to make it a more inviting place for those eager to explore the surroundings.

If you see yourself wandering in the region of Aveiro, make sure to include the Pateira de Fermentelos in your plans! You will thank me later.

A beleza do lago ao Pôr do Sol

#KeepWetlandsWet
#WorldWetlandsDay
#ErasmusPlus

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Never Have I Ever

A fun game to play among your friends/family/acquaintances… And a way to get to know people in a deeper way.

Never have I ever…

thought to be back to Armenia so soon.

taken part on a 7-day intense training course on the topic of Extremism.

discussed the importance of youth work as a tool to empower youngsters in being interested in democratic subjects.

realised that Populism has a broader concept and doesn’t restrict in itself to the “Western definition” of it.

discovered how easy it is to fall into extremist ideas.

filled in a Bogardus Scale which led to one wholesome discussion.

found out about the dark side of being politically correct: call-out culture; platforming; virtual signaling; bad actores and clicktivism.

adorned a notebook in such a beautiful way.

had some of the most delicious meals paired with the most delicious lavash.

seen an incredibly ingenious and ancient way of cooking bread.

found a Polish guy with such a big affection for Portugal!

randomly met one Portuguese exchange student in Dilijan!

been responsible for the well-being of three lovely Portuguese girls – Inês, Isménia and Joana.

hitchhiked in Dilijan’s town just for the sake of not having to walk back to the hotel.

frozen my ass off in Lake Sevan (while trying to capture its beautiful sights).

scrounged a beautiful tea mug and a Turkish coffee pot.

slept in an hostel for such a bargain – €3.

gone inside a super crowded bar just to ask for the Wi-Fi password to the bartender.

taken a tour around a museum by solely relying on escalators.

played Never Have I Ever with those from Portugal, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia.


This Erasmus+ Training Course, “Extremism for All”, was made possible with the support of the European Commission. Obrigado Inspira!

Tierra soleada

Who knew that in Muş I would have the chance to come across such amazing hermanos?

Wheel Málaga

Málaga came to be without much thinking. Onward flight booked and off I went to Andalucía! As soon as I stepped out of the turboprop aircraft I was immediately slammed in the face by the scorching July sun.

The two-month hiatus came to and end. António, who had deceived me into thinking that I would be journeying alone to the centre of Málaga, was waiting for me at the arrivals hall. Portunhol soon became the default language in which my thoughts were formed and dialogues articulated. ¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?

The days were spent drinking cañas, nibbling on late evening tapas and sunbathing whenever the opportunity arose. Wandering around the city, climbing up Castillo de Gibralfaro for some panoramic views and venturing into the Museo Picasso (a must! Málaga was the artist’s birthplace) completed my Andalucían foray.

Guapoooos

Spanish sing-along!

Arriba,
Aabajo,
Al centro,
Y adentro!

El que no apoya no folla,
El que no recorre no se corre,
Y por la virgen de Guadalupe, que si no follo, que me la chupen!

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Inma! Inma is the cute Andalucían girl who made this Spanish incursion possible. She opened the doors of her shared apartment (on a very peculiar neighbourhood, I should add) with Elisa and Jésica to me and António. She was incredibly caring and attentive and made sure my stay was as memorable as possible. Indeed, I didn’t need much to feel at home. I actually got some cute motherly vibes from her side.

Te echo de menos, chica!

AHHAAAAAAAAA

Eesti, once again! More than two years had passed since I set foot in the land of the double-vowels-in-every-word. Unlike last time though, this trip meant business more than leisure. After all, the two-day stay in Tartu was planned around the organisation of a Youth Exchange (thanks Erasmus+!) due to happen in the later days of September.

The venue, known as AHHAA (read it like Eureka!) Science Centre, is the biggest place of its kind in the Baltic region. Being big can only mean so much, if that doesn’t equate having a good experience… At AHHAA one can easily spend a full day experimenting and learning from all kinds of sources, whether it is chemistry, physics, astronomy, biology, environment, you name it! So in this case big definitely means awesome!

Buzzwords aside, you do end up learning through the joy of discovery and the hands-on approach that places like this one offer. In many cases, unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what people get from their school education.

So together with my fellow colleagues from Estonian, Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary (and Brazil!), I got to immerse myself in the science centre as well as ironing out all the Youth Exchange details, like scheduling, activity leaders and other bureaucracies.

I was definitely impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone involved! I’ll be damned if this doesn’t turn out to be a magnificent project!

Tartu, see you in September!


AHHAA Science Centre

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Teşekkürler

Turkey! A huge country that spans across two continents, connecting the East and the West.

There are so many places to visit that a week or two weeks or a month wouldn’t suffice.

There is Istambul, Ankara (its capital!), Antalya, İzmir, Cappadocia… Turkey is packed with remarkable destinations. Yet my first incursion into Turkey bypassed all those places. Muş came to be. With roughly 80 thousand inhabitants, it is a place lost in the Kurdish region, 1500 km away from Istanbul.

Muş felt like it ran at two different speeds. On one hand it boasted modern buildings all around, wide avenues filled with shops and shoppers, one large university campus… Yet it still didn’t feel modern, per say. On the other hand, women selling foodstuffs and kids offering their shoe polish services right on the streets was a common sight. As soon as you stepped off the commercial area, things were quite different: endless roads under never-ending construction, stray dogs barking, trash scattered everywhere, run-down facades… It had it all.

Something that really took me by surprise was the way men presented themselves. And I don’t exactly mean the way they look but more on their behaviour. They strolled down the streets arm in arm with their male friends. Wasn’t expecting that, to be honest. Body language is indeed a fascinating subject.

You’ll for sure drink plenty of tea (and coffee!) among friends, sitting (almost squatting actually) in cute little chairs paired with cute little tables at one of the many cafés. Besides all the social life, coming to Muş had the purpose of becoming multipliers for preventing addiction. Addiction from what? Drugs, alcohol, smoking… We had debates, talks and got an insight on various policies that countries use to tackle these issues.

Overlooking Turkey

Got the chance of meeting really clever and downright interesting people. It would take a lifetime to put into words all that we lived among those 7 days together.

Mountain Dinner

Ankara