January 1990 Israel

The rot began to set in with some of the other kibbutz volunteers in mid January. I was not getting along well with my roommate. Worse still were the drunken antics of three of the male British kibbutz volunteers. They were drinking all night and becoming very aggressive. Everybody was fed up but they were afraid to complain. My roommate grumbled to our volunteer leader but somehow I was held responsible for reporting them and I became viewed with hostility. One of the Dutch female volunteers was particularly cool. She had a chain between her nose and her ear. Unfortunately she had eventually come out in a rash and had had to remove it.

I found myself working in the factory, helping to produce rubber rings. Working on the factory floor was cold, particularly as producing the rings, had meant my hands were constantly in cold water. I had kept nipping in the oven to warm up. I had however loved the people in the factory. I even had a bit of a crush on U the floor manager. I was happy to be away from my fellow volunteers and to be working instead with the kibbutzniks. I had got chatting at one point with an elderly (I wrote “elderly” at the time, now I doubt he was much older than I am now.) guy with a perfect British accent. He had explained to me, he had been sent from Poland to the UK as a child and that later his entire family had perished in The Holocaust. Later I wondered whether he had been among the Jewish children rescued from Europe by Sir Nicholas Winton

Every Friday we had a disco in the clubhouse. I usually quite enjoyed myself despite the fact that the same tape was played every week. We had all gone vegetarian on the kibbutz. The vegetarian chef was a professional and mostly nobody wanted to eat the chickens etc that they had been working with.

What’s Eating You ? Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I did manage a trip to Beersheva with some fellow volunteers. We went principally to see the Bedouin market. It was fascinating. Women sat on the floor with cloths laid out in front of them. I was struck by the rich and vibrant colours of the cotton. I bought some coloured beads. There was even the occasional camel but not as many as I had hoped.

A large crowd had gathered outside a grocery store. Although we had been warned to avoid crowds, curiosity had got the better of us. Through an English-speaking woman in the throng, we learned a man had been walking around the store, when he had disappeared down a hole, which had appeared in the ground without warning. Divers were searching for him. His body was finally recovered several days later. The drama surrounding this tragedy went on in the paper for ages. The last I heard the architect who was considered responsible for the store being built over an old cistern, had committed suicide. So the terrible incident had claimed a second life.

Another confession I was very briefly on another kibbutz in Israel but I had been triggered over something. I think it was to do with my previous kibbutz experience and I had as we English say, “Done a bunk in the middle of the night.” Up until my narcissistic relationship, I had usually been able to escape situations I didn’t like without a moments thought.

I remember they had all been South Africans and had been quite sweet.

I had made my way back to Tel Aviv.

I always liked Tel Aviv. I stayed in a hostel, which after a few visits had felt like a home away from home.

For me the most scary thing about Israel was having to hand in my passport at the hostels. I had met a girl in Eilat, whose passport had disappeared that way. I fully understand the need for strict security however.

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