Workcamp Marismas de Santon~a, Spain, 2000

Location Marsh area in Laredo & Santo~na, which are small cities in Cantabria district along the north coast of Spain. These areas are designated as a protection area. They are marsh when the tide is low, and turn into isolated islands separated by sea water when high tide.
Members 15 Spanish, 4 French, 3 Japanese, and 2 German. Four Spanish who belong to a local NGO (SGO) led the camp. SGO is engaged in the protection of the local nature
Languages Spanish and English
Life We stayed in a municipal youth hostel. Maximum 8 people lived in one bungalow. Showers, toilets, and meals were prepared by the hostel. We could play various kinds of sports such as basketball, volleyball, football, table tennis, table soccer, canoe, cycling, rock climing, athletics and swimming in the pool.
Work Many kinds of work regarding the protection of nature in the marsh area; for example, marsh work including weaving, garbage collection in the river, making and installing bird traps, building huge poles for the birds to rest on, quesionaries, birdwatching, bird counting.
Other Activities Excursion, dying shirts, making and playing music instruments, meditation, Yoga, dancing, rock climing, athletics, playing mini theater, cycling, football, volleyball, water polo, MANY fiestas (parties) including Hippy party, Lerele championship (see below) etc.
Meals Though every meal was provided by the accomodation, it was very poor. This is the only disappointment during the workcamp. From the second day, we could guess precisely what they served based on the menus of previous days! Basically, no vegetable was served. Is that mean everybody gained weight after the camp!?

Patatas fritas (potato fries) twice a day. The same quality as those from McDonald.

Dancing Spain

August 16th
The purpose of our work was to protect and recover the nature so that it became suitable for traveling birds. The project content was introduced very clearly using slides. SGO hosted the camp with perfect planning and organization. At night, we had a humorous and witty introduction party. Everyone introduced oneself applying his/her shade projected on a big cloth by a light. Spanish can hit upon a play only with one piece of cloth! At any moment, they elegantly betrayed a Japanese common notion that we cannot play without money.

August 17th

We climbed a mountain, and then came to a cliff. An old firehouse and the darkblue sea were found 200 meters down (see photo). A bunch of us didn't hesitate to stepping down more than 500 stairs, and swam. Why are you so powerful after mountain climing!? At any moment, they powerfully betrayed a Japanese common notion that we take a rest after work. Moreover, the temprature of water was just 17 degree celcius. Since it was too cold for me to swim, I was going to take a rest sitting on a rock. Of course, it didn't make sense. They called me, "Naokiiiii, Naokiiiii", from the deep and stormy sea. Yes, they had already remembered my name on the second day, because I had slipped so often because of my shoes. Anyway, I swam. We enjoyed supreme scenery through a sea cave below the cliff.

August 18th
We worked in the marsh, and did campfire. People say Spanish are just cheerful, but they can modulate their modes. They work hard when they should, and play hard when they can. Smile and cheerfulness are indispensable spices in life. Although conversation skill in Spanish could help enjoy the camp more, entertainments such as campfire, dancing and games are universally shared without languages.

August 19th

Cycling. Taking a break at natural water source (see photo). We found beautiful stone buildings, greens, birds. Really refreshing!
We went out to una fiesta (a festival) at night. Many local people got together and danced: the olds, children, women, men, everyone. Many tents were built around the festival. We drank, danced, sang, and went to sleep whenever we wanted, without worrying about driving back.

August 22nd
Hard manual work. We weaved Bursaras (What is a bursara? I can show you how to make one). In the evening, we completed in Lerele championship. ¡©Qu/e es Lerele? (What is Lerele?) No one answered. But, play courts were established on table tennis tables. They asked each of us to prepare three coins. This is 10-yen football (a 10-yen is a Japanese coin). I practiced it in the junior high. I manipulated coins with both hands, and finally won the championship. !Viva Jap/on¡ª

Dancing every day.

August 23th
Garbage collection in the marsh using canoes. Though beautiful, the marshes were full of deserted plastics and cans. In the end, we found a refrigerator sunk in the water. Many local people are ignorant of environmental affairs though many others care.

Dressed up for Hippy party. At night, we shared a great party without languages, but with drum, music, games, dance and sports. Spanish values cannot be measured with simple gauges like money or achievement while they are important to some extent. They value their true colors, interaction, and happy lives.

August 25th
We digged a huge hole in a vast land, and built up a huge pole for birds. Extremely fatigue. In the afternoon, we went out for a flower festival in the town of Laredo. More than 20 flower-made carriages paraded, each of which carried decorated girls.

An artistic monument discovered in a morning. Spain is a country of art where Picasso was born.

August 26th

We drove bicycle, and interviewed workers in the marsh area (see photo) collecting shellfish. License is required to work in the protected area. Though they are exploiting natural resources, they have their own dreams and lives. In the afternoon, we played hand-made musical instruments with dancing, did rock climing and athletics, and enjoyed mini theater. We were active with infinite stamina. Spanish are genius in playing. Dancing and humor are indispensable to live in Spain.

August 28th

Work in a huge marsh area to set up a huge pole for birds. Our procession of bicycles strayed into a blind alley ending up with a bush. There were two choices, facing 50 meters left before getting to the spot.
A: carry bicycles through a train tunnel. Trains come once in two hours.
B: dash through the bush by bicycle, this should be called a brute force method.
We didn't have the following option:
C: go back to find the right way. We chose B. We rashed into bush with no trail (see photo). Many people made scratches. In the marsh work, many people fell on mad, and everybody was covered with mud after fighting against each other on the marsh. The greatest work!

August 29th
Last weaving. In the afternoon, we separated into three groups and matched with the last and most intense games. For example, our tasks were

I can't explain more..... Finally, we drank in the deep forest to enjoy the last night. At first, I suspected that a large group leads to superficial relationship. Actually, it was true that we had limited opportunities to talk with each other, and my Spanish skill was very limited. However, I felt Spanish spirits and their personalities in daily conversations, crazy games, dancing, parties and so on. They were ardent in playing, enjoying, working, and living. It was a great workcamp which motivated me to come to Spain again and to study Spanish more to communicate with them.

Personal Activities

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