All things must come to an end eventually and this little trip to the Galilee is no different. On Wednesday we started closing down the season, cleaning up all the squares and taking down the first few tents. That might actually sound easy, but fine detail cleaning in squares that are already in the full sun is no party. Those last days were very hard and everyone was happy to sit down and not have to haul gufahs full of stones or brush very brittle plaster for a while.
Standing on the dump filling sandbags is even harder work, so it was much appreciated that a group of Dutch visitors chimed in to help keep the work going. All in all, we finished well over an hour before the regular departure time, a very welcome change of pace at the end of the season. The last digging day itself is just a matter of final clean up and bringing all of our tools down so that our friendly tractor driver could bring it all back to the storage containers. It`s time for them to gather dust instead of dirt.
|Four weeks of digging does that to ya...|
The last afternoons were mostly dedicated to formalities. The last week reports, loci info and of course everyone had to line of for some idiot with no sense of humour to have their portrait made. The end of the digging season was celebrated with a barbecue and the handing out of all the certificates proving that each of us has been to the KRP and proved his or her mettle. After that it was time to party hard and party hard we did. The real badasses went on until well after 4 a.m.
But just because the digging is done, doesn`t mean that work on the site ceases altogether. On Friday, a team from the company Skyview came over. These guys do aerial photography with small zeppelins: ideal for getting top view photographs that can help us read the area better. Some of the true long haulers of the night before went without sleep just to go and see this happen in the flesh.
Besides the aerial overview, important features of the architecture are getting an extra recording and a few specialists will look at various aspects of the site. Once all the archaeological work is done, a restoration expert will come in to help preserve as much of the plasterwork as possible.
|Skyview came by on Friday morning|
And then it was time to pack our bags and say the last heartfelt goodbyes. From leaving Karei Deshe, through Ben Gurion airport and Zurich airport all the way to Schiphol, we had to say goodbye to close friends every step of the way. The fact that we got the thorough treatment by Israeli Customs didn`t do much to help the situation. Every goodbye seemed more difficult than the last and every time it made us feel more worn out and alone. Most people will tell you that saying goodbye is never easy, but they never tell you that it`s this frickin` difficult. I wept many manly tears that day.
It has been four exciting weeks full of discoveries and good stories, but it has also been a very demanding four weeks for many among us. It`s probably for the better that we don`t spend longer on the dig, as we`ve had plenty of people who had to stay at the lab for a day to recuperate. To be honest, I`m pretty messed up myself, but as long as there`s work to be done and caffeine to be had, we keep going.
Despite the fact that my body is telling me it has reached its peak level of exhaustion and that I looked forward very much to going back home again, I left Karei Deshe with a heavy heart. All the friendships made and strengthened, the experiences shared, the hardships endured, the finds unearthed… the only things I can take home with me from all this are the memories (and the photos, of course). It saddens me to know that I will probably not see most of these people regularly, if at all again. But that is also a part of the whole KRP experience. We live four intense weeks in which we become a true family: a group of sisters and brothers who will go through hell and high water for each other. Wherever you go on the world, you can at the very least drop in for a drink.
|I`ll miss this view|
I will miss many things while away from Karei Deshe. The sunrise over the Golan, the view of Mt. Arbel if you drive to Tiberias, the palm trees, the walk up to the site, Sirpa`s driving skills, the afternoon breeze, the Taybeh beer, all the cheesy puns, the nightly swims, the view of the lake at night and of course all the wonderful people who were there. But there are also things that I`ve missed from back home. Chocolate sprinkles, pork, proper fries, a good double whopper with cheese, chocolate that tastes like real chocolate (rather than sugar with something brown) and real orange juice that isn`t made of insanely sweet syrup.
I`m back home now and the weather is very grim and dreary. Life here starts returning to normal again (although my body has a hard time keeping up). Therefore, this will be the last blog post of this season. Now all that`s left for me to do is wash all my dirty clothes and to sit inside and miss the blue sky and all the Dear People of Horvat Kur, most probably for another year. Thinking about it, my mood starts to fit the weather here.
It`s been one hell of a ride and I thoroughly enjoyed all the good times we had together. May we once meet again on the shores of the Sea of Galilee or wherever else our roads take us.
Signing off, for the last time,
The Lost Dutchman