Monday, April 09, 2007


The third and flnal part of the program began on the Sunday morning after the match. This part of the program is the options period where we could choose what we wanted to do. Placements included Magen David Adom (ambulance) in Tel Aviv, Yeshiva and work placements in Jerusalem, Marva a mock army program somewhere in the middle of the desert, and Kibbutz also somewhere in the middle of the desert. I as you might have geussed from the title chose the last option for my final two months in Israel.

On Sunday morning we went to the Bayit Vagan Hostel, Jeruslaem to say goodbye to those who were doing Marva, and once that emotional business had been taken care of we were alone. The we of which I speak refers to Annabel, Nick, Richard Smith and myself, from fifteen to four. But the solitude did not last for long as we were joining the minibus of six girls from Israel Journey on our journey down to Kibbutz. Israel Journey is a new five month program for those who are not in a youth movement, I always thought that was FZY.

The journey lasted four hours as Kibbutz Ketora is in the Negev Desert half an hour away from Eilat. On arrival we were greeted by Aliza the volunteer coordinator noticeable by her remarkable resemblance to a sheep. She showed us to our living quarters which include a sort of small bungalow, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and sort of kitchenette. Its pretty squalid but liveable. I'm in a room with Richard and Nick, and Annabel is next door with Rachel a girl from Israel experience. The rest of the day was given over to unpacking, settling in and meeting other volunteers. All the volunteers live together in rows of small appartments, and thus socialising is done predominantly with other volunteers.

The volunteers come from all over the world includ ing the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Israel. I will talk in far more details about all the volunteers at a later stage, because it will definitely take a whole blog to talk about the assortment of nutters that volunteer on the Kibbutz.

The next day Aliza did all the paperwork with us, asked us which jobs we wanted and then sent us off to work around the swimming pool, where we were cleaning the area for its opening the following week. This included pulling up roots and clearing, twigs and branches. Later in the afternoon we were assigned our jobs. Nick and Annabel were sent to the dining rooms, Richard to the gardens (which is a code word for hard labour with vegetation) and I am cleaning the swimming pool. This has been my second option gardens were my first but being the only one who put down the pool thats what I got. You see when I put down my options I really wanted to be outside, I completely forgot that I was in the Negev Desert, which meant searing heat during the day.

However, I would not be outside just yet as the swimming had yet to open. Instead I spent the next few days decorating volunteer houses, with a Russian Kibbutz member called Sasha. This was rather interesting as he spoke no English and so I was forced to communicate only in Hebrew, I think I did rather well. However, it was made remarkably easier by the fact that his son spoke perfect English and was always there to put an end to all the weird hand signals, especially when I had no idea what the strip the walls meant in Hebrew.

I did this job until Thursday morning, and I was given all of Thursday afternoon (although afternoon work tends to finish fairly early anyway) as I would be working that night helping to Kosher the kitchen in time for pesach. This was to be done with Richard and several of the children from the kibbutz who were on their holidays, and so I was given a scraper and acid and went from 9-12 cleaning an industrial cooker. Once done I went down to the kibbutz pub, well its a bar in a barn, for pubnight which is on every Thursday and Saturday. Owing to the fact it was almost empty I left pretty soon and went to bed.

I had Friday off, owing to work the previous night, and I took the opportunity to do incredibly little. In fact I cant recall a single thing I did that day until dinner, which is attended by the entire kibbutz and is very nice, and is followed several hours later by a large number of volunteers and young kibbutznics trekking down to Lotan a neighbouring kibbutz, as Friday night is there pubnight. I dont actually remember that much as I might have had too much of the goodstuff, except at the end of the night I do seem to recall being outside (at about 3 in the morning) and doing a full-length interpretative dance to Bohemian Rhapsody which involved, taking my shirt off, climbing up poles and jumping on top of people, as I said too much of the good stuff.

Saturday is shabbas and so the entire kibbutz rests, sunbathes, vegetates and the volunteers were keen to do likewise. I was very pleased that I did not have a hangover and so could enjoy the sun, although on the whole it was a bit too hot for me and I found it far more pleasant in the shade. Saturday night was another stint in the kitchen this time Rich and I were assigned to cleaning trays and such, which basically meant putting them into a big industrial washer, like a carwash for plates, and taking them out the otherside. This incredibly dull activity was made slightly less tedious by trying to get eachother wet.

Well thats all for now folks, next time a week witht the family, dont worry it wasnt that painful


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