Saturday, June 22, 2013

Living in a dream

Travel often gives me a feeling of surrealism, as if my great fortune to see all these incredible places around the world cannot truly be real. The time differences and jet lag just add to the dreaminess of it all.

I have finally landed in this stunning and complicated land now called Israel. I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 3am, with my favorite airline, Turkish Air. Three reasons why Turkish Air made my night flight so memorable this time:
  1.  Checked in my 12 kg of overweight baggage at no extra cost!
  2.  Served Turkish delight at take off and delicious freshly prepared Turkish food
  3. Had a great selection of music and movies (I watched Up In The Air and listened to Alicia Keys’ latest album)

Over the past few months I’ve been reading up on the history of the area I’ll be digging in (click to see map) and it makes me realize that right now I, by being here, am in the throes of history. The brilliant crashing waves of the present will soon leave only a memory written on foam on the sands of time…yes, I’m getting a bit too poetic. But that brings me to one of the greatest blessings of Israel (that probably upsets the Palestinians the most): The Mediterranean coastline.

After I landed I took a cab out to Tel Aviv, because there is no other way to get into the city from the airport on a Saturday morning. It was expensive, costing me 156 shekel (42.90 USD), but so worth it, because I would much rather sleep off my jet lag on the soft pristine sands of Tel Aviv’s beaches and soak up the early morning sun, than doze off in uncomfortable positions on airport chairs while breathing in that stale airport air. Thanks to my excavation companions, who remained at the airport, I could leave my luggage behind for my morning venture into Tel Aviv, and I felt so unbelievably free as the Mediterranean wind blew through through the open window and we whizzed by rows of palm trees, the blue sea glistening in the distance.

I quickly changed in the Sheraton and then dozed off. After that I had Tex-Mex food with an old friend from high school who is now in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and her boyfriend, who is also in the IDF. It’s fascinating and kind of scary to hear what it is like to be in the IDF. It makes me grateful for the fact that I can just focus on my education right now, and not worry too much about having to stand armed and ready at the border of a hostile neighbor.

After meeting my friends I got a shuttle from Savidor Train Station with my fellow archaeologists, numbering 50 people ranging from experienced to educated to beginner. Throughout the bus ride up to northern Israel, getting settled into our simple and clean rooms at Achziv Field School, and taking that blissful first swim in the Mediterranean on the beach right in front of the Field School, I found myself engaging in deep conversations on a number of topics with members of my diverse archaeology community here at Kabri 2013. I am so excited to get to know these people more, since my companions so far seem passionate about knowledge production and are marked by maturity and friendliness.

We got boxes upon boxes of pizza for dinner, which was made exciting by a visit from a praying mantis who courageously scaled our picnic table stacked with empty pizza boxes. 

After dinner we had orientation where I started getting REALLY excited about the dig. I’ll be digging in the area called “D-West” to find where this palace ends, if it does. We have no idea what we might find – we are entering uncharted territory in discovery of Kabri’s history! Funny note: during our orientation, a group of Israeli men were pumping house music out of their small rusty car. Instead of declaring it a nuisance, my orientation director used it as an example for how pumped up we should be for tomorrow. I love that attitude!

Now I need to get off to bed to sleep. I need to wake up at 4am for a tough first day of digging and I’ve barely slept at all for two days straight! Laila tov!

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