The Travels of Cypris – Adamama
Working at a kibbutz was on my to-do list, but when i went to volunteer, i was told that you must apply before arriving in Isreal, make a two month commitment to working at a place that the agency chooses, as well as pay a large deposit. I figured that this was not going to be an option, until I heard about a sustainable farm a couple hours south of the city. It was described as a spiral gardened oasis of calm with clay huts and light work throughout the day. Then, it just so happened, a friend was traveling there in a couple days and welcomed me for the journey.
We met at the central bus station of Tel Aviv. This was the one place i was absolutely warned to never go near. Turns out it is like any other mass public transit station i have ever been to. It is a huge multi level complex with a food court and little shops all around. It is in a poor neighborhood that you would not want to wander very far into, but I felt safe in the station itself. The number of bus lines is dizzying. There are three different kinds of buses you can take; 10 person taxis called sheruts, where you enter and find your seat then pass your money from seat to seat to the driver who then passes your change back to you from person to person; regular large city buses and long-haul greyhound-esque wifi equipped ones sans toilet. We wound our way up the escalators to the top floor. i was very grateful to have a guide through chaos.
It was Sunday, the day all the military folks return to thier bases. All Isrealis, unless you are religious, studying, or crazy, are required to be in the military for 3 years post-highschool. It is a very casual thing to see groups of teenagers, gathered in their uniforms with rifles across their shoulders. Seeing all of these deadly weapons illicit a certain knee jerk fear when you are not accustom to it. But when looking closer, the gun is like the laptop cases of a business man. It is just another cumbersome thing to carry around that is necessary for the job being done.
I had two seats to myself and breathed a sigh of relief, knowing the journey was going to be a long one. What i did not realize, was that this was not a non-stop bus. The man in front of me fell asleep and i started to wish i did the same. The bus was standing room only after about half an hour. I watched as many people stared down at the sleeping passenger, but let him be. It took another 45 minutes before an old salty man shook him awake.
We reached our stop and i noticed we were on a highway and nowhere near what looked to be a farm. The guys i was traveling with let me know it was hitching time. We spread apart, stuck out our thumbs, and watched the cars go by. It is hitching courtesy to line up behind the people that were there first. I noticed a girl traveling by herself and felt pretty calm about the whole thing. If she can do it, so can I and i was traveling with two men, so i did not worry. A couple rides later we arrived at Adamama.
The farm buildings are arranged on a winding path that leads to the hay fields. You begin at the kitchen, which is open for eating whenever you are hungry as well as for the communal meals that are cooked for lunch and dinner. The walls are lined with shelves that hold 5 gallon buckets filled with nuts, grains, and dried fruits. Ethiopian tahini is also in a huge bucket accompanied by the giant jug of the farm’s olive oil. There is electricity to run the lights, refrigerator, kettle, and toaster, but the only hot cooking option is called a kettle stove. You start by pulling a metal tray out to clean the ashes from the previous meal, then add hay through a small whole at the bottom of a smoke stack. Once the fire gets going you add wood. The top of the smoke stack is open with metal grate to put the pot on. The stove relies on air circulation, so you must make sure the vessel you choose is not too large. Once you use how to light it properly, it is a very efficient cooking system.
There is a communal area of couches and a huge table that is covered in a lattice work of climbing plants. The path continues to a multi-person living tent that has a wood stove and electricity, a large open tent for hosting work shops and kids groups whose roof is made out of a billboard of Bruno, a few smaller living quarters, and ends at an out cropping of clay huts.
Reduce, Reuse, recycle is the way of life that is apparent in all things. Plastic bottles are re-purposed as planters, lanterns, lights, and anything else possible. All food waste is fed to the chickens or composted. Glass bottles are turned into glasses and eating vessels. Electricity is used as little as possible, although it is not really noticeable.
My duties included dead heading all of the really tall prickly plants, putting sun dried olives into jars, gathering snails for the chickens, putting nets over fruit trees, then waiting them with concrete tiles, cooking for a school group, teaching poi and nighttime glow performances for the staff.
My last evening was spent frolicking in the hay fields. There was a huge quadruple stack of bails that i climbed and spun on, overlooking the surrounding farms and listening to the musical call of the ice cream man. Which, incidentally, the ice cream man does not actually sell ice cream, only popsicles. I watched as they tried to fly a kite that was made the day before and then played Frisbee till the sun went down!