A Week at the “Eco-Farm”

Hi all! Hope everyone’s had a great week!

Last week was our last week of volunteering with the program. Instead of our usual week-long volunteering in Tel Aviv, we spent 4 days at an “eco-farm,” near Haifa, which was definitely an interesting experience. It had its moments of greatness and it also had its (even more frequent) moments of terribleness. Allow me to explain.

So, everyone on the 5-month track was allowed to pick where he/she wanted to volunteer for the last week of the program. We were all given 4 different options and told to pick the one which appealed to us most. All of us decided that we wanted to spend our last week on the program together so we did a “majority rules” thing in order to pick the placement.

For some reason, when the eco-farm was first explained to us I heard something about there being monkeys involved in this experience. Um, monkeys? Count me in! I know that I’m not the only person who heard this because other people can corroborate as well. I am not crazy. Anyways, the majority of us picked this option (most likely due to the aforementioned monkeys) over the other choices, which included fruit picking, camp counseling, and working at a nature reserve.

However, it became clear as we neared this final week that there were indeed no monkeys involved. Whenever anyone asked about the monkey situation our questions were flippantly tossed aside. I’ve never been so disappointed about something primate-related in my life. (As a side note, this mysterious monkey thing became the running joke of the trip. As I was sitting in a program lecture one day I had this image of jumanji-esque monkeys wearing aprons and helping around the house. This lead to a 5-minute outburst of uncontrollable laughter, which completely disrupted everything and forced our volunteer coordinator to question whether or not I was on drugs. You know it’s good when you start getting asked questions like that.)

Anyways, we took off for monkey-ville last Sunday, which involved all of us hauling our crap to the Central Bus Station (a 20 minute walk), followed by keeping track it of whilst moving through the balagan that is Israeli public transportation. Finally, we got to the bus where they oversold the tickets and a few of us had to stand in the aisle for the entire 2 1/2 hour ride. This is an aspect of Israeli society that I will certainly not miss. Needless to say, getting to this “eco-farm” place was not easy.

Anyways, some of you might be wondering why I keep putting “eco-farm” in quotes. This is because when we arrived it soon became clear that this was not an actual eco-farm, but rather some old man’s home. There was almost no actual property and we could not for the life of us figure out where we were going to sleep. When we questioned where the 20 of us would be dozing for the evening the man (whose name was Avi) pointed to an unfinished deck and said we would have to build it in order to sleep. Oh, okay. So we’ll be sleeping in 3 days, you think? Perfect.

We had to figure out who was going to start building this damn deck, so five of us stepped up to the plate while everyone else unpacked and made some food. Leah, Josh M, Allison, Evin, and I all took on the project (which did indeed take 3 days) and referred to ourselves as the Ballerina Builders for the remainder of the trip.

Of course, since this “small project” wasn’t done on the first day we all slept on partially nailed in boards for the next two nights. We were careful not to shift our weight while sleeping seeing as one small move could potentially push up the boards and smack everybody to the right or left of us in the face.

Everybody else who wasn’t on the deck-building crew was required to clear brush for the remaining 3 days. It was really unclear as to why they were clearing brush and what we were actually creating. Funny thing is, we still don’t really know. Apparently this man was trying to create an “eco-campground” of some variety where people could stay and meditate by fences made of recycled gas cans (aka trash). I’m still not entirely sure as to what that means. All I know is that when I once asked Avi where I could recycle a bottle that I had finished drinking from he told me that they didn’t have a recycling system. Hm, some eco-farm sir.

We wound up leaving a day early because we felt really useless and there was a total lack of communication involved. I’m sure it would have been meaningful had we known why exactly we were there.

There were, however, a few redeeming factors to the trip. For starters, I helped to build a deck! And no, I didn’t “fake help” like some of you (coughmyfathercough) might think. I actually cut boards, used intense power tools, and screwed in almost every single bolt holding the deck together.

Doesn’t this picture totally inspire confidence in my power-tool-weilding abilities?

The finished product! We came a long way from the picture above. I am super proud of the Ballerina Builders.

Another redeeming factor? There were a ton of dogs from different houses all over the village.

My favorite dog was Avi’s pup, Falcor. We had a love affair/were best friends.

Falcor was the fan favorite.

In addition to dogs, we made some other not-as-friendly friends.

I would rather not see another one of those guys again.

Needless to say there were some positive aspects, but this was certainly an interesting way to end our program experience. Despite it all I’m happy that we all got to spend our last week together. I’m going to miss everyone so much…seriously! I’m so glad we all spent our last few days together as one big cohesive group.

After the week ended people began to leave the program bit by bit. It’s incredibly sad every time someone leaves because I really feel as though I became close with every single person here. We’re calling ourselves “Real World: Tel Aviv” because of how dramatic every single person’s departure has been.

This week I’m planning on living life to the fullest in TLV before I return back to CT! I’ll be flying back on July 20th so I want to make sure I pack everything in before then. I’ll make sure to keep everyone updated as to what I’ll be doing for these last few days, but for now lyla tov kulom (good night everyone)…talk to you all soon!

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