S: Free Travel March 2010
FC: Free Travel 2010
1: March 7, 2010 Free travel has begun! So far I have traveled less than a mile from JUC. Tent of Nations requested I come on Monday, which gives me one free day in Jerusalem. I found a hostel to sleep in right inside Jaffa Gate. The room smells of pee and sweat but it's not too crowded and the bathroom is clean. This afternoon, I took a book, sandwiches from JUC and a purchased Fanta to a nice grassy area outside the wall.While I was there, I unexpectedly made some new friends: two teenage boys. We tried to speak to each other but they only spoke Arabic. Most the time, they were content just sitting by me while I read. It's now 2:17pm and I think I'll take a short nap at the hostel. My plan for the evening is to dine at McDonalds! After that I will probably read more before going to bed early. Tomorrow, I cross the wall into Palestine and start working!
2: March 8, 2010 I was very worried about getting to Tent of Nations this morning. Luckily, everything worked out well. Found the right bus at Damascus Gate, crossed through the wall without ever showing a passport, and paid too much to be driven by taxi here (45 NIS). When I first arrived, Daher, one of the brothers who runs the place, gave me the grand tour. At tea break, I met the rest of the volunteers. Thomas (age 19) and Willy (age 20) are from Germany and have been working here for sometime. Unbeknown to them, very time they say village or "willage", I chuckle inside. Raphael (age 22) is from Switzerland and very friendly. Finally, there is Simon (age 37) from England who is probably the most talkative. Since the Israeli government wants to take their land, they've made growing and working here a challenge. You see the first signs when you start down the long driveway to the farm gate. The large pile of dirt spaning the width of the drive is hard to miss. Especially since it means you're going the rest of the way on foot. It's no use trying to move the dirt pile. It will just be back in the morning. Try moving it again and the threats will start. Another challenge is bulding. Building permits are hard to get no matter whee you are. but here it is impossible, The two buildings they have could be demolished at any time. To step around this, they have dug caves. The picture on the right shows the covered enterence to a cave that'
3: Mid-March we got a week to travel without the group. Some people, like me, stayed close by but others chose to go to places like the UAE, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Kenya. I decided to spend my first three days volunteering at Tent of Nations farm. Weeks earlier, we'd spent half a day visiting the farm and planting olive and almond trees. | Caves as rooms and buildings. Toilets Daher and family Solar panels Drive way Pump water
4: Tent of Nations is... | March 8, 2010 Some of the chores I did today were feed goats and chickens, cutting wire, prune the sage bushes (poorly), water newly planted trees and pull weeds. We take occasional breaks to drink hot tea. In the evening, we all sit together for a simple dinner
6: March 9, 2010 So, what is it like to be a cave dweller? It wasn't as cold as I was bracing myself for. The humidity, on the other hand, I was not prepared for. After laying against the pillow for a few minutes, your face becomes damp. The dampness sticks to your pants when you try to put them on in the morning. | March 8, 2010 Tonight, I am staying in a cave. It's the very cave that Daher's grandfather lived in when he bought this land in 1916 from the Ottoman's. The entire family started out living in this small room together.
7: Around the Farm
9: March 9, 2010 I spend most the day weeding the garden. Including my work yesterday, I haven't even finished two rows!Once I've collected a large pile of weeds, I dump them in the goat pen . Daher found a wide-brimmed straw hat for me to wear. Not only does this keep the sun off my face, but it keeps my unwashed hair covered. Hot water is non-existent here and proper hygiene seems unnecessary. With already limited clothing, I decided to wear only one outfit during my time here. Life is different when you have so little and no idea when you'll see a washing machine again. | After.. | Before...
10: March 11, 2010 Today was a struggle. Before leaving Tent of Nations around 8:30am, I washed my hair in the sink and changed into clean clothes. I know Daher was very sad to see me go. He's been so fatherly to me over the last few days. He told me where to wait for the shared taxi. It took me 15-20 minutes to flag one down. Most were either full or I wasn't fast enough. For me, public transportation in a foreign country raises my anxiety and doing it alone sends it through the roof. Finally, a taxi picked me up and I made it back to Bethlehem. Once in Bethlehem, I had to take a private taxi to the wall. Luckily, the first taxi driver was kind enough to help me flag one down. The checkpoint was no less anxiety ridden. The Israeli soldiers must have been in a good mood today. Even thought there were long lines and security, it didn't take as long as I'd expected. I was pointed towards the correct bus. There are separate buses for Arabic and Jews. Technically, I could take either one but I usually took the Palestinian ones. We got into Jerusalem and that is when my issues started. First, I got off at the wrong bus stop. Even thought I knew where I was, I was totally lost. I asked for directions but they seemed to send me in circles. Taxi drivers wanted 50 NIS to take me there which I refused knowing that was way over priced. That is when the tears started. By this time, the sun was getting warm and I was frustrated, lost, and alone. My arms were tired from lugging my duffel bag around. My final option was to go back to JUC and get help. When I got there, Cyndi sat and listened to me sob out my story while handing me tissues. She invited me to stay for dinner and shower (I suppose I smelled worst than I realized). I declined. All I wanted to do was get to the bus station.
11: Next I traveled four hours south by bus to the southern most city of Eilat. Beside the Red Sea, Eilat is known for its beaches and great snorkeling. While there we stayed at this great Christian hostel called The Shelter. | Eilat
12: Swimming in the Red Sea
13: *We really did swim. I just don't have pictures of it
14: March 13, 2010 Today was amazing! I love snorkeling! I love the Red Sea! We got to the snorkeling area around 10am this morning and didn't leave until almost 4:30pm. To save money, we only purchased 4 sets of snorkeling gear and then took turns laying out on the beach and getting in the water. The water was so clear. The high salt content made floating at the top easy. The water was full of small purple jellyfish. They didn't sting but did occasionally .. I also took a walk down the beach and collected small pieces of smooth sea glass.
17: Pictured above: Jemmina Hingston, Krista Miller, Ellie Barnhart, Hannah Shelly, Janelle Freed, Ruth Ellen Dandurand, Sarah Defnal, Rebecca Stouffer, Kristen Bell