Today is my last day as a volunteer at YDCMA. Although my project officially ends in February, from next week I will enjoy a well-deserved vacation and return, if all goes well, to my island, Tenerife.

It’s curious because I finish the project the same way I started it. In Sheinovo, a small town belonging to the Kazanlak municipality, bringing the plastic caps that we collect in the city to the recycling plant. This was the first thing I did when I got here, on the second or third day, in February 2020.

That day our coordinator picked me up with my colleagues and took us there. It was the first time I saw the surroundings of Kazanlak and on the way I was delighted with the view of the snow capped mountains, just like today. I remember that when I got out of the car I started taking photos like crazy, because I loved the landscape, and especially because I had just arrived and I was excited about every new thing I saw (this keeps happening to me). The truth is that the recycling plant itself is not very photogenic, but it is located next to a green field, and the mountains in the background and the blue sky of a sunny winter day make the photos quite beautiful.

After that day, I have continued to discover new landscapes, taking more photos (I have almost no space left on my mobile and laptop…), and most importantly, carrying out more activities with the organization. Visits to the eldearly house and the daily care center (that we had to stop when the pandemic began), the organization of an ecological festival in summer (adapted to the circumstances), the promotion of the UNESCO sites of the country … And a lot of other things that I’m not going to put here because I would not finish.

Needless to say, during all this time I have learned a lot. But not only about managing projects, how to edit videos or how to communicate better in English, but about myself. This past year has been a challenge for all of humanity, and for me, especially, it has been a continuous learning. I’ve always liked planning, I like routine and having everything under control. Precisely to get out of that dynamic a bit, I made the decision to come here for almost a year, and after everything that has happened, I have learned that it is ok to not have a plan and I have been able to enjoy improvisation.

I take many things from this experience, but the most important thing is all the people I have met in these eleven months. I know that many of them I will never see again, but others have become true friends and now I have a home in many parts of the world.

In the same way that Kazanlak received me almost a year ago, it says goodbye now. But it is actually a “see you soon”. I have felt so like home all this time that I have made the decision to start a new chapter here, but this time in the capital, Sofia. But first, I am going to recharge batteries for two weeks at 21 degrees 🙂

Thanks to all the people who have made this experience so wonderful for me!

Marta Valverde

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