Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kibbutz life

Hello again!

First of all, I must make amends for being an awful blogger. Here there is always someone to talk to and people have amazing stories to tell. Plus the crazy situation and the news to catch up.

Through the horrible news, I thought that you may be curious about the everyday life of a kibbutz volunteer.

I normally get up at around 6, pushing it to 6.30 if I am super tired. It's way earlier than necessary as I start working at 7 but  1) I am a snail in the morning 2) I love having 10 minutes of quiet all to myself before heading to work.
Second to sunset, this is my favourite time of the day: the sun is out but not burning and the kibbutz seems still asleep (don't be fooled, in reality it is bustling with activity already).

I work in the dining hall/kitchen. I start my day by drinking coffee with all the others volunteers (minus Sophia who starts work at 8 in the bakery) before heading to our jobs. Chris used to work with me, while American Sophia (I will call her Fia from now on) works in the laundry room: she used to work with Rose and Rozy, a girl from Bulgaria and now that they have left with Franziska, the new volunteer.
My first job used to be cleaning around the dining hall and the kitchen which could be fairly gross at times. After that I would help out cutting vegetables for the salads which are the pride of the kitchen staff at the lunch buffet. Now that I am the only volunteer left, I work only in the salads.

I really like helping out in the kitchen! I love cutting vegetables and aromatic herbs and see how they get mixed (although sometimes I shiver seeing how much salt or sugar ends in the salad). Also, it's a funny, lively environment: the two ladies in charge of the salad department-Ghila and Aviva- don't speak English so we understand each other through gestures and the few Hebrew words that Chris and I master. I am slowly learning the names of the vegetables, whereas he just shout at random times "Kuolakavot!" (well done) or "Iofi iofi" (literally it means beautiful but in our jargon means that we have finished our task). If Ido, the volunteer leader, Amnon, the boss of the kitchen, or Zohar, one of the cooks, are around they translate for us, even though Ghila's mimicry is so eloquent to make their intervention useless. The kitchen staff is completed by the two Arab cooks- Nidal and Khaled- who speaks very little English (and pretends to not know at all) with whom we communicate mainly gesticulating.

At around 9.15 we eat breakfast all together: in line with the Israeli love for vegetables, we eat salad (and boiled eggs)! 

Lunch is served as a buffet from 11 to 1. This is generally my favourite moment as I get to see almost the whole kibbutz as they come in for lunch, from the school kids to the elderly. The only exception are the very extremes of age- infants, toddlers and the very elderly who are bed /chair bound- whose lunch is delivered by Ido or Amnon.

Chris and I serve the main course from the wagon and make sure the food trays are always full. It is such a good opportunity to connect with people in the kibbutz: some will talk to me in English, some synthetically in Hebrew, some will say very long sentences in Hebrew ( that's so hard). As half of the kibbutzim are originally from Brazil, some will attempt a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.  Some will talk to Chris in German or Russian.... and the dining hall turns into Babel Tower!! No surprise that one day I got confused and started talking to Fia in Italian, getting annoyed when she looked at me in utter puzzlement!

During lunch time I sometimes get a short Hebrew lesson by General Markus: he is an elderly gentleman in charge of checking who comes to eat. He is very nice and took to heart teaching me some Hebrew.

We sit for lunch at 1. I have gone back to a veggie diet within a week of living here, partly thanks to Sophia's influence and partly because it's the healthiest option available, as the meat is often swimming in oil or sauce. I eat quite a lot of salad and pulses, with cous cous or potatoes  as a way to coax myself into running when the sun sets.
When everyone is done eating (around 1.45) we clean the room while Khaled, Nidal and Zhoar clean the kitchen. We are normally done by 2-2.30, which leaves just the time for a quick chill in the room before heading to the POOL! Never would I have guessed I would become a pool side lover but...people change right?
Furthermore, this is probably the nicest pool I have been to (and possibly the cleanest too) tan is coming out quite nicely. I had forgotten how good you look when your skin is not as pale as milk!
I spend most of my afternoon trying to catch up on my journal writing (and failing miserably, as I end up chatting with people). 

Some evenings we go running after the pool closes. But I will tell you about our running shenanigans here.

After dinner we (rarely) go to the pub for a beer or head over to Rafi's room for some tea and chat. He finished military service 3 months ago and is living in the kibbutz until he finishes a course to become a crane operator, then he'll move to Jerusalem. He is really nice and always kind to us. Read: he tolerates us anytime we feel like pestering him in the evening or the afternoon. Initially, he and I were not best mates, mainly because he really struggled to understand me, but once eh got used to the accent and to my occasional mumbling we have become quite good friends.

This is, my dear readers, the take of a normal day in the life of a kibbutz volunteers. It was meant to be brief but as I wrote along I realised that my days are actually quite interesting..exciting really!

I hope you are all having a great summer!! What are you all up to?

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