Hi there, my name is Anita and in March 2020 I started an internship with the NGO Initiative et Développement Citoyen based here at Camping le Belvédère in Lastours. The name the camping holds “belvedere” derives from two italian words, “bel”, meaning “beautiful” and “vedere”, which means “view”; beautiful view, and justifiably so.
The day I arrived, I was welcomed by the most picturesque landscapes from outside the car and I was stunned. A view that could have been cut out from a magazine or jumped straight out of a fairy tale. I watched the lush hills forming the perfect showcase for the four castles of Lastours that were built by the cathars in the 11th century, quite some time ago. From the camping you really have the most spectacular view since the touristic viewpoint is just a few meters away. The pretty castles of Lastours therefore became part of my everyday view without ever losing its charm. The location is certainly one of the many great advantages my internship with IDC has to offer.
I originally come from Munich, Germany and basically lived there until I finished High School. After I graduated, I decided to undertake my bachelor studies in International Business and Languages in a small town in the south of the Netherlands. As studying at an internationally oriented university, I was required to go abroad for two semesters to countries that speak the languages I was enrolled to in my first two study years. Next to languages one of my biggest interests is sustainability which is why I spent six months studying corporate environmental management in Lima, Peru simultaneously improving my spanish. Lima is quite a busy and chaotic city, nothing I could compare to most european cities. After spending 6 months in a city that inhabits roughly 12 million people, I needed a break from so many people, so I applied to the internship offer of IDC, going for the complete opposite experience to my life in Lima.
IDC seemed like the most suitable organization for me, working in an international community that follows the principles of sustainable development, eco-tourism and creates value with projects and youth exchanges concerning topics I was very passionate about and wished to learn more about. I was excited to live with many like-minded people and work on the planning and execution of the projects.
Of course, life never goes exactly as planned and in this case coronavirus interfered with my expectations. The projects have been cancelled and most of the volunteers have not arrived to Lastours due to the travel restrictions. At first, I was quite disappointed but I quickly realised how lucky I was to spend the quarantine here at the camping. I strongly doubt that there is a better place to be at in such a situation. When you have a great view, a beautiful big garden, many animals and a few but special people to share with, you start to value the simple things more than anything else. We were watching the seasons change, plants grow day by day and experimenting with ingredients we have never used before, creating the most interesting dishes, learning more about sustainable lifestyle all the time.
After all, even though it was not quite what I expected, I am overly grateful for the experiences I have made during these times. We grew together, creating a little family with the few volunteers that have arrived and the people that have already been here. This for sure is not easy, but considering the fact that we started living together as strangers from completely different places around the world, I believe we managed quite well 😉
Now that the quarantine is over, all of us are extremely excited to explore the region and its beautiful natural and historical wonders, starting with the ones right in front of our door.