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Chapter 4: The end of Lockdown 

Dobrodošli to a new and very belated chapter!

Ilse and I both spend a relaxed month with our families over Christmas. While we were gone, we didn’t miss much, only an earthquake, a big fire in Piran and a flood. But in January, Ilse and I wanted to get back to Slovenia as quickly as possible. We still weren’t able to do much because of the lockdown but we stayed in Škofja Loka for a night because I (Charlotte) didn’t want to drive the entire distance at once again. We arrived quite late but in the morning, we went for a nice snowy walk through the town and then drove the last 2 hours back to Lucija/Piran. 

It felt weird to be back again after a month and we were kind of afraid that the lockdown would continue for many more months. Since sadly, the EPI center was still closed, our mentor Jasna suggested that we work with a local organization called Morigenos who are responsible for protecting the dolphin population in the Bay of Trieste. So until EPI opened again, we worked with them a few times and helped observe the bay for signs of dolphins. It was actually quite interesting, even if we spent hours standing on the church tower in Piran and staring at the sea. Spoiler alert: we never spotted any dolphins.

In February, we were finally able to leave our municipality/region again. For our first trip, we visited another ESC volunteer in Idrija and stayed over the weekend. We went on a few hikes in the local mountains and it was really nice to finally be able to visit other volunteers again since that is a really important part of the ESC experience!

Us volunteers (Charlotte, Ilse and Matjaž) prepared an online holiday program for the winter holidays. We planned different activities on Zoom, such as online games, a movie night and a pub quiz. However, not everything went smoothly. We think that most kids were tired of Zoom at this point, so we had some issues with motivating them to join the activities. When we had the movie night, we didn’t check whether the zoom “room” would be free and didn´t create any break out rooms, so Lada´s theatre group was talking over the movie for a long time until they figured out how to create break out rooms. The holiday program then also involved a baking workshop where we wanted to make german Apfelstrudel. Luckily, everyone used pre-bought dough but Charlotte wanted to prove her (non-existent) skills and decided to make puff pastry herself. However, she read the recipe completely wrong so the consistency ended up being anything but puffy. Seriously, you could have built a house with that dough.

During this time, we went for a lot of walks up the hill in Koper to the TV tower. From there, you have a very nice view of the sunset behind Izola.

Other activities included going for a swim in February (Charlotte gave up after 40 seconds) and hiking a local mountain called Slavnik. At 1,028 metres high, it was something that Ilse has never done before. She did complain for most of the hike, but in the end she was glad she did it (right, Ilse?). From the top, you have an amazing view over the slovenian coast, the Istrian hills and even the Alps in the background.