Local time at Horbat Omrit, Israel

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 31!

Couldn't resist this last entry, both because I already miss the mad, random, improbable Omrit 2008 conglomeration and because d*** George made me 2 hours late taking off from Heathrow.

Oh ya, when the US Customs Guy asked me if I had brought back any Israeli soil with me, I managed to say no with a straight face!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 30 - Sunday morning

Couldn't resist. Last dinner last night and sunrise at Ben Gurion Airport.

Day 29 - Saturday

This will be my last post since sometime after midnight tonight our 2 van caravan will head off to the airport an hour away and this excellent adventure will come to an end. Though it will certainly be a good thing to return to 'Merica and home.

I've taken the day off because the group is off to Masada and the Dead Sea and I've been there, done that. It's about 10:30am, I'm sitting in the hotel's breakfast area, drinking coffee and decompressing. It's also the only area to pick up wi-fi. Not a bad way to spend the day, especially with the nap I plan to take this afternoon.

The hotel is on the Mount of Olives and has a great view. Here's a closeup of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that I took early this morning from the hotel steps. The "site" of Jesus' burial was "discovered" by Constantine's mother in the 4th century CE. Who knows? She may have gotten it right...

P.S. If you increase the zoom level level of your browser the pictures get bigger too!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 28 - Friday

Left early for the 3 hour trip to Jerusalem - got a little lost, of course - but first stop was Yad Vashem: the Israeli Holocaust Memorial. A very modern museum with lots of large video, artifacts and information. The architecture is stark, concrete modern - hard to imagine it otherwise.

The first exhibit I saw was ID cards and photos from the pockets of corpses in a mass grave in Estonia. Very affecting.

It's post-ironic if not almost obscene that here we have a large museum devoted to the Nazi era. More info than anyone needs to know even if most of it is about their crimes. Too many swastikas are too many swastikas whatever the reason...

Then off to our hotel in East Jerusalem, the Arab section. We're skipping the tour of the Old City. John's friend, the Canadian Chargé d'Affaires for the West Bank is going to give us a talk tonight before dinner, and we are presently sitting in the lobby (for internet access) drinking a beer.

P.S. Condoleezza Rice is in Jerusalem this weekend. She and GWB have bookended our visit.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 27

The last day and a really early start: on the job at 4:45am! The pressure: to clean up our squares for the all important photographs.The target: eliminate all the dust from the rocks, remove all the grass that blew in overnight and get some good publishable photographs before the sun gets up too high and creates shadows. Well we did it - photos completed by soon after 7am. Then we worked on loading up the trucks to take all the equipment back to the kibbutz.

A lazy day, then a drive out to Tel Hai College for a meeting with the staff and students of the centre for Peace and Democracy. This is an organization devoted to bringing together Jews and Arabs of the College with the aim of creating mutual understanding. Some twenty menbers of the Centre attended to meet with our contingent of around fifteen. To provide a base for discussion we all watched a movie entitled "The Women Next Door". This German film brought together a number of themes: Arab/Israeli relations, the place of women in Islam and finally the exploitation of women by men in general. Plenty of material for discussion! In the event I think most of the discussion focussed on Israeli/Arab relations while members of the Carthage group tried to understand some of the complexities of the situation. Altogether I felt we had a good meeting and during the excellent buffet dinner which followed people from both groups mixed freely and there was much spirited discussion. All in all a very worthwhile meeting.

Day 27

I wanted to include a map when I did the geography lesson but couldn't find a good one. So I took a picture of my own:

We are approximately 2 dots to the left of the numeral 2 in the upper right corner. And here's a must-be-photoshopped aerial shot of the kibbutz looking north, northwest. We are staying in the red-roofed buildings center right. The Golan is behind the picture taker and where the valley disappears in the upper right is Lebanon. The big building front-and-center is the air-conditioner factory that helps support the kibbutz. I just ate lunch for the last time in their cafeteria.

The trip to the college last night was fascinating and John says he'll blog about that later.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 26

Went out early for the last time today to get photographs before the sun cast too many shadows.

Fortunately we came back early too. Tonight we're off to a local college for an Arab-Israeli Dialog and they're giving us a potluck supper.

In Jerusalem one can look forward to the Elvis Express Cafe!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 25

Well, we're closing things down now, the open squares are about ready to be photographed and equipment is being returned. Friday we go to Jerusalem so I hope I'll be able to add a few entries before I return on Sunday. The Ben Gurion airport does have free wi-fi so that should be the last entry as I savor a latte.

Geographically we are in the Hula Valley. It continues into Lebanon and becomes the Bekaa Valley and provides access to Beruit. If we could. We have looking for the main Roman road that crosses our valley and which, after traveling east, then turns north to Damascus.

The east side of our valley is the Golan Heights (otherwise known as Occupied Territory), which we are right up against. Hope the Syrians don't get to come back too close.

The other side, a few miles away to the west, is the Naftali mountains which are part of Israel and form the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah made great sport, a few years ago, of lobbing rockets over.

The valley itself is part of the Great Rift Valley that extends down through the Dead Sea and the Red Sea into Africa. The Hula has had a number of earthquakes in historic times though we have been cautioned not to blame earthquakes for much of anything. Archaeologically, that is.

Here we're looking west across the smog-filled valley:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 24

Things are starting to wind down a bit. No more digging down, just cleaning up. Cleaning our "loose", shaving the sides (the balk) and articulating structures. (Bill, see that dirt up against that wall? Clean it off. Yes sir.) Buff up the stones, draw a diagram and take a picture.

At 4pm today, my little clock/thermometer read 104F in the shade. Fortunately we leave the site at 11:30 and our air conditioning is working fine!

Udo is a kibbutz resident who BBQs our chicken wings on Saturday nights. We walked by his place on our tour of this gated community. There was a bit of "folk art", and the quotes are needed, around his place so John and I went back this afternoon to take a few pictures at his residence "Graceland". Here he is with a Syrian artillery shell: