Shnat? Shnat. By Charley Katan

I haven’t blogged for a long, long time. I don’t think anyone ever did read these but hey, maybe they do! And therefore to my most loyal fan, anonymous web user in China, this one’s for you.

I currently live in the middle of the Negev desert, on Kibbutz Lotan. Specifically, in the Bustan neighbourhood, an eco-friendly campus which is pretty much entirely self sufficient. To give you an idea of the energy cycle of this place, here’s a step by step guide.

  1. The sun shines. (Pretty much an entirely dependent energy source, although we did witness the biggest rainstorm Lotan has seen for 20 years last week…no hot water that day!)
  2. Sunlight hits solar panels
  3. Solar panels generate electricity which is used for a) lighting b) electrical appliances or c) heating a water tank which is used for our showers
  4. Say you take a shower. The water you use trickles down a pipe and ends up watering a tree. NO WASTAGE!

There’s also no flushing toilets. You guessed it, compost is now my best friend. You do your business, you throw a bit of straw down the chute and hey presto, you’ve used a compost toilet. Once you get used to the slightly alarming lack of a splash, it’s pretty much exactly the same as a regular toilet, only like a billion times better for the environment. With a slightly worse smell. Though it depends which toilets you’re used to. Anyway…

Life here is pretty chilled. I take it back, it’s extremely chilled. As one of my fellow Shnatties said, on Lotan, even when you’re sad, you’re still happy. Having such a strong sense of community everywhere you go (from our own kvutsah (group), or just the sense of community you can tap into by living on a Kibbutz) is an extremely uplifting and comforting thing.

I can’t quite imagine what it’s like living normal life right now. I feel like I’ve waited so long for this year and the chance it offers to break away from the academic machine and mundane routines, and it really has delivered on that. However, trying to relate to what it must be like to be starting at university or going on with daily work is tough and requires a lot of imagining and not too much understanding on my part. But that’s just life, and as we get older and our paths diverge further, empathising with each other’s struggles requires more and more imagination, but with just as much support and understanding.

I can’t be completely sure why this post started out about Lotan and ecology and ended up about human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m just so gap yah right now. But to be real with you, anonymous reader from China, I think I’ve been waiting for so long to have the time and the space to think about life and relationships and how to be a fully functioning human being that this was always going to be a perhaps unwanted side affect.

And to Mum: I am safe! I am happy! I am eating well! And I have friends! It’s all good.

If I ever remember to blog again, you may hear from me soon(ish) (within the next 8 months)

See you never,