Hibernation: Day 1 – Arrival

When the train with the 20 international participants in the Hibernation youth exchange reached Tukums, the participants were welcomed by the breeze of Latvian winter and the people behind the project. Rota, Kristaps, and Laura, the three lovely souls who had put months of hard work and inspiration into the creation of the project greeted everyone and handed them fresh apples. Their wide smiles left an unforgettable mark for Latvian hospitality.

The organizers gave the group several maps and sent them on a 13-kilometer hike to the place where Hibernation would take place. The road ahead of the youth was dark and long. The participants left their bags with Rota, Kristaps, and Laura and embarked on what would be a more than a two-hour walk, having nothing but the road, maps and each other. That was the moment to get to know each other, they realized on the way. The black sky brought everyone together and shortened the distance from one heart to another.

The twenty young people were starting to form unity while following the railroad track. Eventually, that track would lead them to a sacred place, where their unique winter hibernation adventure would take place. None of them knew the road, but all of them trusted the map. In small groups they walked the track, signaling each other when the train was coming. Some encouraged the train driver to honk the huge machine and everyone loved the sound of the passing beast. No matter how cold or slippery the night got, the group held it together and bravely walked in the dark supporting each other. Not even the frozen field could stop them.

Once they had crossed the field, the youth saw the shimmering light in the distance and heard an unknown but friendly dog barking. They knew right away – their home for the next week was now close. They had arrived at the projects picturesque venue, but their journey to inner peace was just starting.

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