Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tel Abel Beth Maacah, Daily Life

Greetings friends!

I fully intended on writing weekly blogs whilst on the dig, but that didn't happen. (Story of this blog, am I right?) The dig ended on Thursday, and right now I'm in Jerusalem, waiting in the hotel lobby for the shared taxi to take me to the hotel.

I'll try to summarize as succinctly as possible my first (and most likely, last) dig experience. If any of you thought, like I did before I arrived at the dig site the first morning, that I would just be digging in the dirt for 7 hours a day from 5:00 am - 1:00 pm, you were correct. It's true, I definitely learned things, but don't let anyone fool you into thinking that it isn't just digging in the dirt. Yes, I might sound a little negative about the experience, its true. Perhaps I just don't have the "archeology bug" like others have. Even though I was ready to be done with the digging after day 3, I still had a great time. I met some truly amazing people on the trip and had a wonderful time exploring Israel with them.

Here's a basic outline of our daily schedule (and maybe you'll understand why I was too tired to blog for the past few weeks):

4:00 am -- Alarm goes off.
4:01 am -- Snooze
4:09 - 4:35 am -- Refuse to wake up, continue to hit the snooze button
4:40 am -- Finally acknowledge that I have to get up. I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I made the night before at dinner and possibly have time for a cup of coffee (instant coffee, which is terrible).
5:00 am -- Be on the bus that takes us to the dig site (we referred to it as a Tel, so from here on out, I'll be calling it that).
5:20 am -- Arrive at the Tel, proceed to walk up the hill and avoid the surprises that were left the day before from the cattle and horses that roam the fields.
5:30 - 7:00 am -- Dig in the dirt. Sometimes you're lucky and find something cool. More about that later.
7:15 am -- Tea break. Oh, glorious tea break.
7:25 am -- Ortal, our area leader, "Ok guys, back to work!!"
7:30 - 9:15 am -- More digging. Counting down the time until breakfast. This is typically the hottest part of the day. The sun is up now, but the wind hasn't picked up.
9:15-ish am -- Breakfast!! I think I cheered shamelessly everyday when Ortal announced breakfast.
9:16 - 10:00 am -- Lounging in the shade, eating tuna and hardboiled eggs. More instant coffee. Sometimes cookies.
10:00 - 11:30 am -- Digging. Sometimes my friend Adam would sing for us. Those were the good days. Especially when it was songs from The Lion King.
11:30 am -- JUICE BREAK! (That's me shouting it because I'm so excited for another break. Like I said, shameless.)
11:45 - 12:30 pm -- Digging in the dirt, just digging in the dirt! What a glorious feeling, I'm covered in dirt. (Please feel free to sing that to the music from Singing in the Rain. That's what I did as I typed it. You're welcome.)
12:30 - 12:50-ish pm -- Time to clean up. If you're like me, you think ok, that means we put the tools away, yeah? And then we leave? Right? We wouldn't possibly SWEEP THE DIRT OFF THE GROUND. Oh wait, that's exactly what we did. I got pretty good at it too. I should probably update my resume. Special skills: sweeping up dirt. We also took this time to clean up the bulks. (When you see pictures, the bulks are the walls between squares. Don't worry, I'll post pictures soon so this will all make sense.)
1:00 pm -- The bus comes at the bottom of the Tel to take us back to the kibbutz where we are staying.
1:20 pm -- Mad rush to the pottery washing station to be the first ones in line to fill up your pottery bucket. We have to wash all the pottery we find, but they soak in water overnight. We take the buckets of pottery from the Tel and fill them with water before heading over to lunch.
1:30 pm -- Lunch. The food was good, not great. I ate a lot of roasted chicken, rice and veggies. Like, everyday for lunch.
2:00 pm -- Take a shower. Until now, you've been covered in dirt since about 5:30am when we arrived at the Tel. The shower is a highlight of my day.
2:00 - 4:30 pm -- Lovely break time. Sometimes I would nap, or go to the pool, or just hangout outside in the shade reading. I started a book club, more about that later as well.
4:30 - 6:00 pm -- Pottery washing and sorting. We scrub the dirt off the pottery from the day before, and sort all the pottery we washed from the day before. So on Wednesday, we are washing the pottery that was collected from the Tel on Tuesday, and sorting the pottery that was collected on Monday, and washed on Tuesday. The Area leaders and Directors of the dig would sit with us and explain which pottery shards are important, and which are not. Pictures later.....
7:00 pm -- Dinner. This meal was typically terrible. The kibbutz where we stayed didn't cook any of the food, but had someone else do it. So by the time we got the food, it had typically been sitting for an hour and was soggy. Warm, but soggy. I ate a lot of cabbage.
7:45 - 8:45 pm -- Lecture time. These were typically over my head but I enjoyed the ones that the staff gave.
8:45 pm -- Make your PB&J sandwich for the next morning. Its a long morning if you don't have a sandwich before getting to the Tel.
9:00 - 10:00 pm -- This was when I typically went to bed. There were some days it was earlier (especially if we didn't have a lecture). By this time of the day, I was normally pretty tired and didn't want to stay up doing anything else. Also the internet was slow because there were a lot of people on it trying to Skype or chat with friends/family from home.

So yeah, that was my daily schedule! I have to go get on my taxi now, but I'll post more when I get to VIENNA. I am very excited to see Vienna! Send me tips/places to check out if you've been there before. 

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