ARCHELON’s retreat was a sea turtle summit at 1850m.
It is common knowledge that, in order to withstand time, seeds need to be regenerated by having them planted in the soil, to be thus replaced by a new generation of seeds. In analogy, a purpose that brings people together, like a seed, needs to be regenerated in order to withstand time. With this in mind we prepared a two-day retreat for ARCHELON’s staff and current Board and Committee members.
Twenty “turtlers” responded to this call, reached mountain Tymphristos, a 4- hour- drive from Athens, and gathered in the mountain shelter Velouchi (1850 m. alt) on 1-3 November. You could argue that the place was too far from sea turtles. That’s right – we wanted it to be far enough from the beach and we succeeded!
There was fog around the shelter most of the time, but every time the fog was dissolved, the views were stunning. Most of us walked in the alpine landscape up to the lake. A team of 4 reached the summit of 2310 m; They were Daphne, Chara , Odysseas and Giorgos.
In the cosy space of the shelter, hosted by Panagiotis and Achilleas, who is also a volunteer at the Rescue Centre, we watched slide shows and videos from the latest season in Zakynthos and Kyparissia. We also had a presentation about “People in the beginnings of ARCHELON”. The older amongst us remembered and the young learned of important people who helped ensure protection of sea turtles in Greece like Nikos Margaris, Yiannis Palaiokrassas, Antonis Tritsis and others. Famous “turtlers” like Colin Limpus, Jack Frazier, Marydale Donnely, and Luc Hoffmann, the founder of WWF, were also mentioned for their help and support. We remembered old friends like Nikos Lalotis of the Zakynthian Ecological Movement, Catharine Butterworth, and also Thodoros Spondylides, the former mayor of Glyfada, who offered the space for the Rescue Centre 25 years ago.
As one would expect, we had several exchanges on what the “ideal” sea turtle protection society would do, on how far do we think we are from this “ideal’ and on how each one of us could envisage their own contribution to reach the “ideal”.
Our main pursue, however, was to coexist, communicate, observe and accept each other. For this reason, we played the game of “the secret friend” throughout the retreat. On the last day, everyone’s “secret friend” was revealed by reading out anonymous letters, generating a lot of interest.
There were many jokes, there was wine and tsipouro, good food, singing and guitar playing as well as a ceremony of very important awards like the loudest snoring, the prettiest pajamas etc. We drove back to Athens feeling enriched and more knowledgeable, full of images from these great mountains.
Participants: Alexis Sachinides, Anna Kremezi- Margaritouli, Anna Lamaj, Daphne Mavrogiorgos, Dimitris Margaritoulis, Dimitris Fytilis, Elly Tarabe, Chara Papailiou, Katerina Papagiannopoulou, Katerina Tsikalaki, Lenio Margaritouli, Odysseas Paxinos, Olga Drettaki, Panagiota Theodorou, Rania Spyropoulou, Thomas Arapis, Giannis Chalkias, Giorgos Valais, Dimitris Dimopoulos, Giorgos Parchas.
For the record, ARCHELON’s previous retreats were in mountain Ochi (in 1998), mountain Pelion (in 2002) and in Alepochori (in 2005).
(story by A. Kremezi- Margaritouli, photos: D. Fytilis, D. Mavrogiorgos, D. Dimopoulos, E. Tarabe)