I went to Israel on the 19th of September, 1999 and entered the kibbutz on the 22nd. In the next 2,5 months i had one of the best time ever.
First i started working in the banana's. Although it was really hard work, most of us still enjoyed it. But, i only worked there for a week, so better check out the other volunteers if you want to know more about it.
After a week i started working in "Construction". It was the coolest job ever. My boss, Eduardo, is a really nice guy. He taught me a lot and had enough confidence in me to let me work on my own.
The first week, most of the time i had to clean the swimming pool. That particular part of construction kinda sucked; i was standing in the burning sun all day and it wasn't much fun. But, because of that i finished early every day and that was good.
When they closed the pool, early October, my job became much more interesting. Often, we (my and my boss) went into a kibbutznik's house to do some repair/maintenance work (painting, repairing showers, stairs, shelves, roofs, etc.). Another main activity was repairing the rusty waterworks. I really liked it from here on, because the work was different every day. About 50% of the time i was working with Eduardo, which was really good because i learned a lot and he was always really nice to me. And when i was working on my own i also liked it; no one telling me what to do, more or less deciding my own working hours...
Because it can get pretty warm in the afternoons we all had to start pretty early. When i was working in bananas, we started at 5am. It slighty improved for me when i was transfered to construction, cauz i could start at 6. When i arrived the first day and they told me that i had to get up at 4:45 in the morning i thought they were joking. To me, it didn't seem possible. But, somehow i got used to it very quickly. In the end i even started to wake up before my alarm-clock would ring. And, a big advantage of starting early is that you finish early too; so in the afternoons you can do some sightseeing in the area.
what i got in return
Materially speaking: not much!!
The accomodations were really crap. Just 6 pieces of (old) wood, nailed together with 2 beds inside and sth that looked like a cupboard. I was really surprised that it didn't leak (the one day that it rained while i was there).
We had breakfast at about 8am, which was really good. Everything was there: bread, eggs, serials, milk, vegetables, spreads, etc. Our warm meal was served in the afternoon, between 12 and 13:30. At first it seemed pretty good, but after a while it started to get a bit boring. Though it tasted reasonably good, it was often the same food. What we got in the evening was really crap: just bread, eggs, some tomatos, onions and cucumbers and milk. And after a while also flour, so we could make pancakes. I have never eaten so much pancakes in my whole life.
The pocketmoney was a big laugh (but i knew this before i signed up). We got paid 340 shekels per month, which is about $80 US. But, it covers the bustrips and the vodka, since you only pay 10 shekel for a litre bottle!!
The Kibbutz has to take you on a trip too, once every month. And they did. It was a lot of fun, being on a trip with the other volunteers. But, let me put it this way...The best thing i saw on that trip was the pizza right in front of me at the end of the day (OHYES!!! Some real food!!!)
(Ohw, ok, i'm exaggerating a bit...)
How comes i still had a great time then?
It's hard to explain. If you really want to know: sign up!!
It's just being there, meeting people from other countries. The social life is really good. Every one is really nice to each other.
We went to a disco 3 times a week (and got drunk 3 times a week - like i said, the vodka was really cheap, so getting drunk was really easy :) On monday, there was a disco in our own Kibbutz, which imho was the best of all. On Wednesday we usually went to Kinneret (a kibbutz nearby) and on Friday it was always a big discussion to which one we would go. I really liked the breakfast on Tuesday morning, because all the stories about the night before were told. I guess you could make a nice soap about it.
The evenings we didn't get drunk we would sit together, play games, try to learn each others language or watch a movie on the KibbutzChannel.
(for those of you who left early: a miracle happened! they repaired the tv in the end!!!). We invented a really nice game, called `Cats'. I hope to get some pictures soon from Thomas (!), so i can show y'all what it's about.
And Israel is a beautifull country. The Kibbutz is located in the Jordan Valley, near the lake of Kinneret and it's absolutely beautifull there. From the Kibbutz you could view all the way over the lake and if you turned you could see the beautifull Golan Heights.
In total i took about 2 weeks off, to do some travelling. I can really recommend going to jerusalem. If you decide to visit it, I suggest you take at least a week, cauz it's really impressive. Here's a list of the things i did and my opinion:
|The Dome of the Rock||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|Mount of Olives||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|The Old City||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|The Holocaust Museum||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|King David's Tower||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|The Israel Museum||N/A||No Picture Available|
|Bethlehem||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
|Hebron||Click Thumbnail To View And Read About It|
The other volunteers
Actually, they are the reason why the kibbutz is so much fun. Most of them are open-minded people who are just trying to have a great time. They come from all over the world. In my Kibbutz i met people from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, Hungary, Sweden, New Zealand and the UK.
I shared my room (cage is a better word i suppose :) with Zsolt, a guy from Hungary. We really became good friends and i miss him a lot.
No matter what you did back home, life in the Kibbutz will be different. For me it took a short while to get used to, but it's great. Altough we all complained (and made jokes) about the food, the accomodations, the kibbutznik's, etc. We are all emailing each other now how much we miss it.