Travel Diaries: 1970s Palestine. Episode 38

6th January 1977.

Shelleg ..it’s snowing, or at least as far down as Hebron, just really cold here. In our hut, the paraffin heater’s up the creek, but perseverence won the day ..although with two foot flames leaping up for the first thirty minutes, throwing sooty stuff into the air and giving us black faces and black lungs by the end of the evening. No complaints. It’s warm. In true seven plague theme we’ve recently had a mighty thunderstom, torrential rain, giant hail yesterday, snow today, and tomorrow….? Everything around us is damp and chill, so I’m quite comfortable working in the laundry room, listening to gossip I can’t follow.

Not sure what’s going on but the fighter planes that train in the Negev/Sinai have been flying low overhead more frequently, and the double sonic booms make me jump. They also shake the foundations of the buildings. Not easy to get used to. The Knix don’t bat an eye, they’ve all seen the real thing, fighter planes in action.

I’m slowly getting money together, using some of my monthly store credit to supply high school kids with cigarettes, ten lira cash per transaction. We’re the same age after all and more of my time is spent in their company. If I’m allowed to smoke, I don’t see the harm ..if you know what I mean, as a potential nursing student…

In general I’m feeling a little restless. Every thought and emotion is dissected, trying to understand reasons for my mood shifts, and other volunteers talk about a feeling of being carried along, not being able to get themselves together, making plans without the motivation to act on them. Life here becomes an easy -if unstimulating- routine, readily adapted to, and instilling apathy. I sat down and wrote to the Ministry of Tourism to apply for a place on an Archaeological dig. This may be the push I need.

11th January 1977

Spent yesterday afternoon drawing with charcoal, copying an interesting face from a photograph I found. Another inspired piece was completed, fixed with hairspray (from the beautician’s supply) and adopted for decoration by the HS students. Today Diane and I -two hopeless cooks- decided to bake a cake, with lots of brandy in it, for Angela’s birthday tomorrow. A complete failure, and we couldn’t control the laughter but planned a resuscitation attempt for when it had cooled down. This involved slicing it and covering it in cream cheese, chocolate, served with banana custard. Don’t be too quick to judge. It was delicious.

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Juanita Welch Accardo

Possibly been there, and have probably done that ..but eager to go and do more.