23rd October 2014

From Ella Grodzinski

A few days ago, there were 25 teens scattered across the globe about to embark on this funny little thing called Shnat. So hello from the middle of the Negev desert!

We spent the last 3 days in Jerusalem, attempting to come to grips with the concept that we’d arrived in Israel. Many trips to Ben Yehudah street and some amazing falafel was all it took – we’ve pretty much fallen in love with this country. With spectacular views of the old city, Aroma coffee close by and a ready supply of brilliant Charaidi buskers, our temporary home could not really have been in a better location.

After the 3 day seminar, I can now proudly say that we are all experts on vital logistical things like Israeli healthcare, buying Israeli SIM cards and eating Israeli cottage cheese for breakfast.

We were then surprised with a Segway tour around Jerusalem. Whilst piloting these two wheeled vehicles we were treated to some spectacular views, a little history and a couple of crashes. It was sometimes difficult to concentrate on the picturesque view whilst attempting to remain vertical, but in the moments where we could stop and admire the scenery – it seemed like the whole group was enamored by what they saw.

Speaking of views – this first report comes to you from Kibbutz Lotan, where the desert sun is turning the mountains a rather beautiful shade of purple. (Forgive me for waxing lyrical. In a place like this it’s fairly hard to avoid.) We spent this morning driving down from Jerusalem to the desert, watching the landscape around us turning from green to red. The kibbutz really is in the middle of no-where, with the Israeli desert on one side and the Jordanian desert on the other.

We’re staying in the Bustan, which means orchard. Fruit trees may be lacking, but our orchard is instead filled with all things eco-friendly and sustainable. ‘High-tech low-tech’ would be one way to put it, with modern solar-panels and electricity meters alongside compost toilets and the fabulous igloo-shaped mud-and-straw domes which we’re staying in. Built and decorated by former Shnatties, the Bustan already feels like home, and we’re all rather enchanted with it. The mushroom-shaped street lamps have just lit up, and with the starts coming out we’re getting ready for the first stage of our Shnat journey.

Also, we’ve adopted a cat.

All our love,

The Shnatties