#EcoTourist’sMorning: the project’s diary

20 july 2022

In early July, the team of the Blagoveshchensk’s Community Chapter of Bashkortostan’s Republican Branch of the All-Russian Association of the Disabled (hereinafter referred to as Blagoveshchensk’s CC BRAD) took a recreational family trip on catamarans, code-named #EcoTourist’sMorning. The trip was made possible thanks to grant funding provided via SIBUR's Formula for Good Deeds social investment program. This tailor-made project brought together 17 people with disabilities and health limitations.

The boat tour took place on July 11 through July 16. Throughout the 6-day adventure, Andrey Vorozhtsov, Chairman of Blagoveshchensk’s CC BRAD and the tour’s lead guide, kept a diary where he diligently recorded all the key events that happened on the trip. When we read through his notes, we realized that we wanted to share them with our readers. Having obtained Andrei's permission, we are happy to present his diary notes here. Happy reading!

In lieu of an introduction

Over the years, having organized and implemented a few of these inclusive boating tours of the
#Morning... series, we have gotten into the habit of keeping diaries. So, we’re now proud to present the diary of our #EcoTourist’sMorning project.

Having put together our crew, we prepped the gear, chartered the route and bought everything we would need during the trip. The team that we had built was eager to rush headlong toward new adventures, armed with a positive attitude and ready to clean up every corner of our region’s amazing wild nature.

Day one. Monday, July 11

At 9:30 am, all packed and enthusiastic, we set off to the village of Kulbakovo in Kiginsky District. We found that people living in these lands are really hospitable: you are a welcome guest no matter where you go. On arrival there, not expecting anything, we were greeted with loaf of bread, chak-chak sweets and the warmest hospitality of the members of Kiginsky District Chapter of BRAD. After we sat at the festive table, we were immersed into the Bashkir culture, enjoying various contests and trivia games, fresh air, and delicious local food. We were introduced to what the locals call api-chambers (Ed. note: basically, a type of an inhaler, but different from the rest of them by that you find yourself inside one). Everyone was offered an opportunity to get inside the beehive and zone out. After the feast, we returned to our camp. Lest I forget, it is worth noting that this year we didn’t have to do any cooking on our first day. Our warmest thanks go out to the District Chapter of BRAD for the hospitality accorded to us in the hospitable Kigin neighborhood.

Day two. Tuesday, July, 12

The morning is sunny and welcoming. Having finished our breakfast of braised potatoes cooked in an Afghan-style cauldron, we started breaking camp taking in the fresh and pine-scented air. After loading everything on our catamarans we set off. Ai River, with its picturesque banks, rivals the beauty of the famous Chusovaya River. In the Bashkir language, the word "Ai" means "the Moon". In other words, Ai is "the Moon River". In ancient times, the Bashkirs were said to worship this celestial body.
The beauty of the river’s banks aside, we also spot not so beautiful remains of an abandoned camp of some irresponsible travelers, something we take care of getting rid of by putting the scraps and waste in our trash bags and by installing signposts.

The day comes to an end without an incident, we make camp, have a dinner of pasta with minced meat, and hit the sack.

Day three. Wednesday, July 13

Thunderclouds quickly gather overhead and it starts raining. It was a nice and warm summer rain. After breakfast, we belatedly break camp and set out on our way. The advantage of being on a 6-day boat trip is that today we don’t have to turn back to go back to our day jobs, and instead we get to continue enjoying the beauty of our favorite Bashkiria, breathing fresh air, mingling with like-minded people and getting inspired otherwise.

The day comes to an end. Tomorrow we’ll have a day’s rest. We will camp without having to be in a hurry to get anywhere. We have a dinner of buckwheat porridge and pork stew before going to bed.

Day four. Thursday, July 14

A day camp. This is the day that makes all the rowing of previous days worthwhile, when you can wake up at whatever time you want, take your time, watch butterflies, collect medicinal herbs, have a good swim, and, of course, enjoy a camping bath.

For breakfast we have healthy oatmeal, for lunch we have cabbage soup, and for dinner we have pilaf. While waiting for the fruit compote, we play chess. The weather today is good with lots of sunshine! We charge our phones from a solar battery: being eco-tourists, everything we use has to be eco-friendly. Later in the evening, as we sit around the campfire, we sing songs to guitar strumming. We’ll be back on the road tomorrow.

Day 5. Friday, July 15

Our morning started with the rain outside. After finishing our breakfast and breaking camp in a bit of a rush, we hit the river. It's worth noting that we try to cover a distance of 20 to 30 kilometers every day. We plow ahead bravely with occasional stops to clean up waste and install signposts. Our team is well-coordinated and responsible. Supporting and cheering each other up, we kept rowing under pouring rain for 4 hours. After making camp and eating a dinner of boiled potatoes with canned food, we finally go to bed exhausted but with the sense of having accomplished our goal.

Day six. Saturday, July 16

Today we are returning home, and this means we still have to cover the rest of the distance. The weather is pleasant with no rain and lots of sun. We have a breakfast of fried potatoes and sausage, pack up, and hit the road.

As you breathe in the scents of grassy land and behold the beauty of your homeland, you begin to realize that you were born for a reason, and that you need to make yourself useful, help change someone's life for the better, expand the boundaries of the universe, and just learn to enjoy living. Our waste cleanup efforts notwithstanding, we do understand that we won’t be able to clean up everything, but we can at least make our own small contribution to this cause. By informing others and by leading by example, we hope to be able to continue what we do and promote our environmental campaigns.

The day is coming to an end. There’s a bus waiting for us on the river’s bank and we get on our way home. Having traveled 104 kilometers by water, we arrive safely in the village of Lakly in Salavatsky District. Our journey is coming to an end. We are saddened by having to leave such a hospitable region, and yet we are happy that we accomplished everything we had set out to do. We are thankful to each #EcoTourist’sMorning traveler for the great and, most importantly, useful time we spent together.

Andrei Vorozhtsov
Chairman of Blagoveshchensk’s CC BRAD