Posted by Yossi ROuch over 11 years ago
The week started in the rhythm of the desert: "Shwai shwai" that's Arabic for slowly, slowly. We gathered back at the village after a nice weekend when we each had our own adventures around Israel and started our week with some coffee, tea and more spoken Arabic lessons. Then, after lunch we added more cob to the main house, which is a work-in-progress. Then, one of the bedouin farmers from the village took us on a tour of his olive groves and explained to us his method of terracing his fields in order to optimize the benefit from the small amount of rain that occurs here in the desert. He also showed us his Uncle's house, his goats and camels and he spoke to us about cultural issues and the history of his people that came from Saudi Arabia. Of course, this was over tea, as is customary (and always very pleasant).
The next day, we started with breakfast and more spoken Arabic! Next, we gathered the group in the Shig (the men's meeting place) for a lecture on the subject of indigenous people, issues and rights by a professor from Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva. Next was a planning session where we continued mapping out our time and figuring out what projects we will be undertaking. But, the most fun part of the day came next! We gathered a bunch of the kids from the village and told them it would be really fun to pick up garbage and made a game out of it. So, we filled many bags of garbage that was littered around and separated it so that we could use it again later and we plan to gather the group again in the future to show them that this garbage can be a resource. Once this fun game with the kids ended, we went back to the farmer we visited the day before and milked his goats and then stood around sipping it leisurely. Some day, we will hopefully get to milk the camel too. Then, of course, we had more tea. It was served with plenty of sugar, as is the custom.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays here is when we have our permaculture lessons with Alice, so it was time for more of those and we started with some workshops on greywater, composting, art-recycling, water management, sewage treatment, irrigation and site planning and then did more planning for our projects here that we'll do. The next day, we started very early with a camp-fire breakfast featuring traditional bedouin bread that was made in the ashes of the fire. Then, the bus came and took us to the West Bank near Mt. Hebron where we heard a presentation on wind and solar energy systems and the political difficulties that are faced in implementing and preserving these systems. The company that installs these systems is called COMET ME and amazingly are funded by the German government. We were taken on a tour of the system by the company rep. and also saw the caves, cisterns for rain water catchment and the rest of the farm with its herds, gardens, groves and the giant dung-burning bread oven. Once we were done at the farm in the West Bank, we thought we were returning to our village, but our driver had other plans for us and took us on a very long tour: where? we are not sure, but finally, he brought us to HIS village and introduced us to some of his SIX wives and we had a lot of tea and cake and played with many many children. He wanted us to stay for dinner too and probably for the night as well, but we really felt like it was enough and asked him to drive us back to Qasr-A-Sir. What a great day!
Once we returned, we started making dinner and one of the women from the village came and helped in the kitchen which is a big development. Up until now, its been the men of the village that have been coming around, but the women are much more timid and traditionally do not associate with foreigners as much. It seems that the more time we spend here, the more comfortable the locals get with us and the more involved with us they get too. Its a great feeling to be accepted and liked so much. This acceptance comes with a lot of kids too who also seem to be hanging out more and more. Its probable that when we first arrived, the town's people were wondering why so many people would travel so far to come and plant gardens and that we must be quite strange. Now, they are more comfortable with us, but they probably still think we're strange.
On Thursdays, we have Middle East Studies with a most amazing and encyclopaedically knowledgable man named David Mendelson. He has an amazing personal history, in which he was born in Montreal into a Hassidic family and eventually moving into a near-by Mohican (Native American) community when he was about 16. There's more, to it, but, its a little off-topic. Anyway, these lectures are amazingly entertaining and interactive and our first one featured a meandering journey through the topics of religion, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, history and we avoided politics... for now. We look forward to his return.
Week 2 is done! Its time for the weekend :)
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|Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course|
|Teacher: Alice Gray|
|Location: Qasr A-Sir|
|Date: Apr 2012|
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