dinsdag 19 juni 2012

A sort of homecoming...

We`re finally here! The next four weeks I will be reporting to you from the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Despite the scorching temperatures and the pressing humidity, it still is great to be back in this place. Coming to the Karei Deshe guesthouse has the distinct feel of arriving back home: it has a comforting familiarity to it, which only veterans of the KRP will understand. The arches, the swallows, the wind...even the scorpions in the field seem to be exactly the same, but that doesn`t mean that nothing has changed.

The lake has grown a bit since last year. Due to a wet winter with some snowfall – of all things – the water level has risen again. The distance to the water`s edge is now a bit shorter; very handy for those of us who enjoy swimming under the stars. The heat is (for the moment) also a bit different. The air is usually dry, making the heat more bearable. This year however, the 40-plus temperatures are evaporating the waters of the lake a lot faster. All the heat and dust remains in the valley, making it more difficult to breathe. It was already noticeable on the first few days at the site and many of the volunteers took extra breaks to deal with the heat as a result.
These guys didn`t mind the high temperatures...

The most significant change is the putting up of a large fence across the garden. Because it was decided that there should be free access to the lake and that the compound should be fully enclosed for “security reasons”, there now is a fence between the guest house and the lake. The thing about having a fence thick enough to stop a raging bull is that it makes you feel ”caged in.” There used to be this feeling of moving towards a wide open space when walking to the beach, but unless we ”accidentally” mess around with some explosives, that thing isn`t going anywhere. No one (not even the staff at Karei Deshe) really like having this metal monstrosity obstructing the wide vista over the beautiful Kinneret, but the thing has to be there to comply with all the rules. At any rate it has been arranged so that we can go out and swim whenever we want.

Things on the dig site seemed to have remained the same. On our first day of working we collected all the tools and started with a bit of ”gardening”: the entire site had overgrown with weeds and thistles, so in order to actually be able to work, all these had to be cleared by hand. It was the first day of hard physical labour and with temperatures at extraordinary high levels (even by Israeli standards) the volunteers were literally feeling the heat. Since we needed to clear the vegetation first, there were no tents yet so every bit of shade became a valuable commodity.
Day one mainly consists of waiting - quite a long time - for equipment.

We did get the tents up the next day, but given the amazing (ahem) talent of the people here at setting up tents, it took quite some time. With the help of Elina, Jasmin and our new American friend Byron, we got some decent looking shade tents up, but we all agreed that ‘tentology’ was a course that should be taught academically from here on out.
Many hands (and proper motivation) make for light work.

That covers most of the preparations. Because we were done relatively quickly, we could get on with the digging. The main objective now is to get as much information from the currently excavated building as possible and that means tying up a few loose ends from last year (clearing bulks and finishing off last year`s squares) before we move to the mysterious North East corner.

On a side note, it has been mentioned by several locals that snakes are more active now because of the higher temperatures. Sure enough, when the staff first arrived at the site to assess how bad things were, they found a hole in the fabric covering the cistern and sure enough, there was a piece of snakeskin close by. As it turned out a snake had made its way through the fabric and fallen into the cistern. So we ended up with our very own snake pit. Fortunately our cistern specialist, Yinon ”The Caveman” Shivtiel, went down the first day to take some measurements and brought the poor thing back up. It was a harmless black snake, so no harm no foul.

So that`s all for now. We`re underway and making good progress so far. Adjusting to the heat will take a bit of time, but it`s not an insurmountable hurdle. More from the field will follow in due course.

Signing off.

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