Travel Diaries: 1970s Palestine, Episode 42
February 8th 1977
Moving day. Some of us are being rehoused into vacant kibbutz appartments. Rick, Patrick, Nansi and I are to live together now, so I thought it would be a good idea for Rick to use his tractor/flatbed privileges for personal use. Everything was relocated from the old huts to the new pad, no complaints about tractorjacking.
Too wet for the fields, pruned orange trees instead and my glasses finally broke three hours into my shift. Another trip to Beersheva is in my future.
New volunteers arrived. I wanted to play-act in that jaded, superior way the well established volunteers behaved towards me when I first turned up at Be’eri. I didn’t though. Fresh blood is an exciting event around here. One of the newbies is from Greece, so time to pick his brains and add to my travel wishlist.
February 9th 1977
Sandy, a new American guy hitched to Beersheva with me after work. We arrived at 16.10 and wandered the streets for two hours, scoped the dormitory price in the youth hostel and were told it‘s full with the local university students. Talking with two of the students, they invited us to meet at 22.00, go with them to watch a film and sleep on the dorm floor for the night at another purpose built location. Their building was very modern -in a Russian ‘tomorrow’s slums’ style. We talked late into the night, with Sandy -being a sensitive and worldy American (oxymoron) attacking the students about Israeli political policies. Oy vey. Get me outta here.
February 10th 1977
05.45. Waiting for a bus to the central bus station, and then on to the camel market. Arrived at 06.20 and enjoyed wandering around piles of objects laid out by the bedouin. Old metal coffee pots, colourful clothing, ethnic jewellery. I bought my first bedouin dress ..a rag really, with replacement sleeves, but intricate embroidered panels. fifty lira. Not sure what I’ll do with it, other than WASH IT!
I had to hitch to Tel Aviv today and felt dubious about doing this alone. Thankfully, a Dutch woman met at the camel market, Evelyn, offered to join me. Phew. We arrived at 11.30 and wandered around visiting tourist offices to find out about boat prices to Crete, via Cyprus, then walked down the coast road to the old city of Jaffa, and Jaffa harbour. Jaffa, the name on the little paper label stuck to my childhood Christmas stocking orange. Mysterious then, and now.
Full of ruins and crumbling buildings unfortunately being demolished rather than restored, it’s a real trip through time. Narrow, atmospheric streets busy with people wind through Jaffa, and we followed behind a donkey-cart-driver ensemble, taking in as much as we could. An artist’s area of restored old homes, arches and alleyways opens mornings and evenings. We sat outside one studio for mint tea and a rest before returning to Tel Aviv bus station, where I said goodbye and thank you to Evelyn for her good company. Back to Be’eri by bus. B B B B.
Perhaps my most useful purchase today was a second-hand Israeli army coat, ten lira at the camel market. Israelis must stop and give rides to hitch hiking soldiers, or those cunningly disguised as one…..
Stock photos used.