Israel Diary 5

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 or cure-ry' 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 staircase that runs right through the town. This was the site of vicious fighting during the war of independence in the 60's (more information). 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 area 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...
Chas & Aviv

The next installment.


Created b y Dan Leigh 31 July 2001