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Baltica Project Update

Blogs wrtten by Luana and Zuzanna:

Luana: Our raft Baltica has now succesfully covered the distance from Warsaw to Plock. This 5-day trip has been an intense and very inspiring experience for me. The crew on board is changed through out the week: the new members arrived and the old members had said goodbye. Our captain Yula believe that the more people involved in the project the better. I think she is right and so far it has been wonderful to meet so many people who care about the Vistula river and our planet's environment. The atmosphere on our little boat is very positive and it allowes us to connect to each other and spend real quality time together. All day long, we row, we talk and discuss, we listen to each other, we laugh and sing together, we tak care of each other and we share a lives on board together.

During the last two days we were surrounded by the beautiful, stunning landscape. The river has definitely gained in size and many islands shape the flow of the water. These islands are inhabited by large colonies of birds. The other day we took our kayak and went to the small sand island. The discovery we made there was breath-taking!!! All over the island, birds were nesting and many newborn chicks desperately tried to hide from us as we approach them. I have never been that close to a baby-bird and it felt incredible to see this newborn life. I bend down and watched carefully and I could see the beautiful patterns on its feathers and its heavy breathing. It was looking at me with its big, big eyes – incredibly cute! I had the feeling I was looking at life in its purest appearance.

Zula: When I first invited fellow Young Explorers from all around the world to join me on the raft, I was very happy to show them my beautiful country in its wildest places. The Vistula river is not associated with tourism, and most of Poles have never experienced the river the way we do. That time, I did not think that I would feel ashamed for what my friends will see. They say that 2/3 of all the sewage from Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is thrown directly into the river. It is not hard to believe in that, the smell of the water is just disgusting and since we left the capital, there are pipes protruding from the shore every 50 metres. Households close to the river don't even build cesspools… We made a dreadful discovery: one morning a very strong wind didn't let us continue the journey. We spent some time talking and then decided to do a clean-up of the beach where we stayed for the night. Obviously there was a lot of 'normal' trash – plastic bottles, pieces of styrofoam, papers… But there were also these unusual sticks – small ones, looking like lollypop sticks. There were so many of them that at the beginning we didn't even try to pick them up. Only later we realised these weren't lollypop sticks, but cottonbuds that people put in their toilets and then, with all the content of the toilet, flush into the river.

We were disgusted and shocked that people can be so careless and do not anticipate the consequences of their actions. Hopefully this will change when Poles will realise that Vistula can be an attractive tourism region and can bring money to local communities. Maybe then people will start to care about the river?

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