Israel diary - 5
Time to go...
I'm going walkabout! I've decided to leave the kibbutz and and go traveling
around the country for a bit. I leave on Wednesday, but am planning
to head to Safed (Tsfat), Meggido and maybe Nazerath before turning
south towards the Negev desert and the tourist resort of Eilat.
Why go visit these places? Well, most of them are mentioned in
a book called 'The Source' by James Michener. It's an excellent
book that I'd highly recommend that you take a look at if you're
interested in Israel, its culture and people. It's based on an archaeological
dig and dramaticises events based on the items found there. The
book is scarily accurate and manages to capture some of the delicacies
(?) of the Israeli character. Interestingly, although it's a novel
and sections are obviously liberally brushed with artistic license,
virtually everything appears to be based in historical fact. An
example of this is the 'water tunnel' that is reported to be in
'Makor'. The tunnel was dug to allow a fortified town to be able
to withstand sieges by being able to fetch water from a well that
was located outside its boundary wall. The tunnel was dug in the
9th century BC(E) by digging to holes straight down, one in the
town and the other at the well. These holes were then linked by
a horizontal tunnel dug through solid rock. The engineering is fascinating
(for me anyway!). Okay, so the tunnel isn't at Makor, but it is
real and was dug at Meggido (Armageddon - remember?)
at the time that the man said it was.
I'll write more later, but currently got the sh*ts so you must
excuse me but it's time for my Dioralyte! I've gone for the 'kill
option and we had a curry night
tonight! I'll let you know the outcome - but god I've missed curry!
I'd kill for a decent green Thai curry!
Ok, so I'm not dead, but I ain't much better either! Both Hélène and I have
been cruelly struck down by some mystery virus (I'll save you les
details croustillant). Still, it didn't stop us traveling up to
Safed (Tsfat) a couple of days ago. Safet is a beautiful town about
20km (1 hour!) north of Tiberius. It's up in the hills and has been
historically significant throughout the history of the region.
The town is now split into three main areas. The newly developed
areas - like most new towns - are not that interesting. The other
two areas are the historical Jewish and Arab (now artist's) areas.
The border between these area is marked by a stone
that runs right through the town. This was the site of vicious fighting
during the war of independence in the 60's (more
At the top of the stairs is the old British police station that
was the most important strategic point in the area. This picture
of the police station
shows the pot-marked bullet marks that still scar the surface of
the building. In the town the beautiful artist's
is a warren of tiny passages
that lead round and bak on themselves. In every house and alcove
is a gallery or some type of art workshop. Just a few streets away
in the Jewish quarter
the mood is completely different. The streets, although still small,
seem somehow slightly less random, more orderly in their layout.
There is a profusion of religiously important sites and synagogues
- although all of them seemed to be closed when we were wandering
about! To be honest, all of Israel seems to be closed up at the
moment. I'm not surprised that there is less around for the international
casual tourist - we get the same, if not more news than you guys
- but even the 'Israeli' tourist spots seem to be empty. Hmm, makes
you think. No, there is a problem here at the moment, but
it is (in the main) still confined to the West Bank and Gaza areas.
If anything, as the Palagan (Ivrit for 'Troubles') intensifies there,
the rest of the country becomes less of a potential target.
Escape plan Charlie... So what's that then? Well, I've decided
that it's time to move on. I've been here a month now, and to be
honest, I now know more than I ever wanted or dreamed that I'd ever
know about how to make concrete beams. So, I'd like to find out
about another kibbutz, a different place. It's been a difficult
decision, as the volunteers here are excellent - a better bunch
of guys I couldn't hope to find. They put up with me during what
will hence forth be known as my 'Larium phase', the good times and
the, well, not so good! But the kibbutz, well, let's just say that
they've recently voted not to have volunteers here anymore - and
it definitely feels like we're in the wind down phase (of both the
volunteer programme and the kibbutz). One of my main problems is
the food, being vegetarian (and lazy at that) it's important that
I can get me hands on some decent grub every now and again, and
the final two straws were a rather imaginative (but grim) chocolate
and spaghetti cake
that was served for lunch - I kid you not, I've the photo to prove
it - and when I found out that the rice in the veggy option the
day before I got sick was over a week old before it was used....
My plan, hmm, well I leave the kibbutz tomorrow to go and stay
with a couple of different people courtesy of Servas,
then at the weekend, I'm gonna head back to Tel Aviv before trying
to find mesel' another place to lay my head! Failing that, the back
up plan is just to continue raveling down through the Negev to Eilat
for a couple of days to play with the dolphins (I'm feeling withdrawal
feelings from scuba diving). As always, I'll bore you to tears -
errhm, let you know! Either way, hopefully, I'll have some (slightly)
more interesting stories to tell!
Watch this space...
Before I leave, a picture of Chas & his lovely daughter Aviv...
The next installment.