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Getting Dirty at the Desert Eco Building Project – Volunteering in Israel

After a short journey from a friend’s house in the Galilee, I reached a hostel in Jerusalem the day before the official orientation day of my GoEco experience. I had a nice start at the hostel thanks to the great staff and a night out with my hostel roommates. Everything was absolutely “sababa.”

The next day – after a long breakfast – I met the other GoEco volunteers at the hostel and got introduced to Jerusalem, Israel, and what to expect from volunteering in Israel during the next weeks. I planned to volunteer at the Desert Eco Village project  to build cabins and stuff out of mud, but there were also other GoEco volunteers going to interesting projects all over Israel. Yan, the GoEco Field Coordinator, told us about our work and the amazing opportunity to visit some of our new friends at other GoEco projects. After he answered our questions, we met in the lobby to have a touristic day out in Jerusalem, especially in the impressive Old City. After exploring the area we met again and had amazing hummus, one of many experiences with the great middle-east vegetarian cuisine! During the orientation day we explored traditional oriental bazaars and young bars in the evening. I had a lot of fun and met many interesting young people.

The next morning we all traveled to our projects. We didn’t expect that Yan would bring us to the Negev but he did. The bus-tickets were already reserved and paid for and we (two girls) arrived on time to the middle of nowhere. The bus-stop in Zukim is a big, new gas-station. We, and our luggage, piled into the tiny Gulf car and headed to the project site. We arrived just in time for lunch, and Rinat, the project manager and our host, introduced us to our work and life for the next few weeks. The boys showed us the lodge, our private room a Bedouin-style tent), the eco-pool (!) and the surroundings.

We learned all about mud-building, which is a mess and hard work but fun too and a very ecological way of building. Work started early in the cooler morning hours and then again after a long siesta-break in the afternoon. None of us liked the compost-toilets, but we had to save water in the desert, so it was OK. The owners of the “Desert Eco Lodge” Rinat and Yair are very nice people, who gave us their car for little trips and cared for us very well. The fridge was always full and the food always yummy. We cooked together or on our own but we were also invited by Rinat and Yair or the lodge’s guests for dinner several times.

Yan from GoEco came once a week to take us to visit other projects or help us organize bus-tickets and stuff for trips on our own throughout Israel, a priceless help. I was very sad when I had to leave and will definitely come again.