I did not know much about the Kibbutz I was going to stay. It was not easy to find a Kibbutz from Switzerland. It was still somehow a rather pre-internet-age. I found phone-numbers, few e-mails and only one good homepage. This one homepage was from the Kibbutz I live now and that's the only reason I chose it- I simply had no other Kibbutz that replied in any way.
I knew that they had avocado-orchards and I did not have a real idea of how an avocado looks, tastes and how exactly it grows- but the first thing I told the volunteer-leader, was that I want to work there. She laughed and told me that I would have to start in the dining-room like everyone else. So I washed dishes for 2 weeks until I indeed was scheduled to work in the avocado-orchard- and there I stayed. Lucky me. It is hard physical work. To pick when it rains and when it is cold, to cut branches, to fix the irrigation-system, to work in the heat… but I loved it. I loved to work on the machine, to drive a tractor, to work with the small team of mostly kibbutzniks and a few (ever changing) volunteers. It was so much better than work in the soap-factory or dining-room…
|me on a tractor with a container full of avocados|
Volunteer-life was easy. You had to work, but besides this you were free. I met many young people from all over the world. I improved the basic English I learned in school. I made many friends- with some of them I am still in contact. I got to know new kinds of food, new cultures, new ways of thinking….
Months went by, winter went by and the moment came I had to go back to Switzerland. I really did not want to go back. I hated the thought of going back to study in the teacher's college. I had other things in mind. But my father brought me to reason. He told me that I have to come back and finish my studies. Well- and I did. (Today I am grateful I did listen to him and finished my studies even though those were the most terrible 3 years in my life…).
I finished my studies, worked a bit in different jobs and in the end of 2000 I went back to the Kibbutz. I wanted to spend another winter in the avocado orchard. Unfortunately they did not have any work and so I ended up making cheese for 2 months until I again could go and work in the orchards. Again I made new friends. Again I went home…
… only to come back in the beginning of 2003 after a trip to New Zealand. It was supposed to be my last trip. To enjoy a last time the freedoms of volunteer-life. And then to go back to Switzerland and settle down- get a steady job. The moment I got to the Kibbutz I knew that it would not be like the times before. I felt that I was now too old for this- with all those young volunteers. I had a few days before starting to work and I even thought about going back to Switzerland immediately. But I thought that things will change as soon as I could work again in the avocado-orchard.
And they did.
Part 1 of my story you can read here.
Part 3 will follow next week.