Friday, 25 April 2008

Rainbow Rant

We went off to the Spring Rainbow Gathering this week. Luckily, it was held in a relatively (for Israel) nice place, only about 40 minutes drive from home.79 Hot!

I thought I might stay a few days, but once we got there... well, though it was a pretty easy site - very small, easy access to everything, and we found a nice spot to put our tent up, it was SO hot. Like, Global warming came early this year. Seriously; when we left, the reading in the car thermometer was 42 degrees Centigrade (105F)!

We ended up leaving on the second day, choosing Ice Cream and Air Conditioning over Rainbow Warriors.

When we got home, I put our household thermometer outside to see how hot it is, and the poor thing went up to 50 degrees (120F) and then broke!

We spent most of the time there drinking lots of water and hiding in the shade. I, of course, found my way to the kitchen and started to focalise dinner. What can I say? I'm an addict.

There was a great kid there helping, he was 14, and lots of fun to chat with. Only he didn't speak English, so I had to brush up on Hebrew. Anyway, we chopped a huge pile of onions, and vegetables, and made a big dahl, and a salad. That went down really well, and we even had it served before sunset. :)

The main problem was that Littletree was miserable. The ground was got and rocky and dusty - not fun for going barefoot on her little tootsies. Only she refused to wear her sandals, coz she can't stand if bits of sand get in. So she went around barefoot, complaining pitifully the whole time. and it was too hot for her. and there weren't other kids for her to play with. and she wanted to go home. and she wanted to eat...

I still had the same old problem with the levels of hygiene in the Israeli rainbow.

Okay, let's be honest; hygiene levels are never too hot in rainbow - it's a bunch of hippies camping in the woods, without running water or proper facilities. So, in order to counteract this deplorable level of hygiene, we make really strict standards - thorough hand washing, no tasting of food from fingers or already-used spoons while cooking, and most of all: the food servers should *never ever* touch anyone's plate when serving.

But in Israel, everything is exacerbated by a couple of issues:

1) There's no water at all - This gathering thankfully had a tap that was only about 200M to walk to and fill up the jerry cans, but it's still a mission to get them filled. Some times they gather in the desert where there really is *no* water at all. They have this 500L tank, which supplies 300+ people. and it gets filled every second day. You do the math. Clearly low standards of hygiene

2) It's freaking hot! like you can't believe. And there's flies everywhere.

3) The people are mostly Israelis. This means that it doesn't matter what you tell them, they will insist that they should do just whatever the heck they were doing in the first place. The more you try to explain that a small splash of water from a bottle is not sufficient to cleanse one's hands after defecating, especially if one then goes to chop salad for hundreds of other people, the more they will insist on cutting said salad, and refuse to wash properly. Their final word in any argument is inevitably; "I'm not in the army any more so no one can tell me what to do."

Not touching plates while serving is the hard one. It's a strong habit. Now, I've been to over thirty rainbow gatherings, and I've focalised the serving at a lot of them. You get a few wingnuts, but in general, it's pretty easy to explain this to the servers - we carry the pots of food around to the people, and we let them hold their plate close to the pot while we scoop the food. We never touch their plates, not with our hands and not with the serving spoons. It's a new way of doing things, but totally doable, and in the long run, less work for the servers.

Only in Israel, they insist that the pots should remain in the centre of the circle, and the servers walk around collecting up plates, bring them in to be filled up, and then carry them back out.

Great. So that server, who just went and made a big show of washing her hands, is then going and touching the dirty plates of those dirty hippies. Plates that are sitting on the ground. Plates that haven't been washed properly for a week, and that dogs have licked, and flies have been on, and that people with random intestinal parasites from India have been eating off. And then they go and touch everyone else's plate. great thinking guys.

Now this non-touching of plates might sound extreme, but I've been to gatherings where literally 85% of the people got lying-on-the-ground-screaming-in-agony-in-a-pile-of-their-own-diarrhoea sick. It spreads like wildfire. I'd like to prevent it.

I explain all of this to people, calmly and patiently. They seem to understand. But the Israelis don't change the method of taking everyone's plates. Some Israelis even say they understand me, and say very nicely, "okay sister, I understand. Sometimes I do it your way. But today, I want to do it my way. We're in a flow".

Drives me batty. </rant>

Anyway, here's some highlights; The Welcome Centre:74 Israel rainbow Breakfast Circle (well, not a "circle" because the shade was so precious):75 Israel rainbow

Here's Me with Butterfly, and me after Littletree swapped our Shawls (wow, me in non-green!)76  Israel rainbow Ela77 Roni Ela


  1. hi, i just wanted to leave a note to say i really enjoy your blog and lovely photos. i stumbled onto your blog while browsing around MDC profiles for cool blogs to read. i hope you don't mind i put a link of your blog in my blog under "people i like to read about". tell me if you'd like to remove it.

    in a freaky small world note: i think i grew up in the same small ontario town that your friend "leon mac" did. he was a yr or 2 older than me, and although i admired him, i was too chicken/shy to pursue a friendship with him when we were kids. i remember he lived in a schoolhouse, and i lived in one also, for a while, out in a different direction from town than him.

    i had clicked on your "leon mac" link since the name kinda jumped out at me as similar to the boy i remembered, and what do you know, he looked familiar. he would have no clue who i am, i am sure. ha ha.

    funny, eh? it's a small world, for sure.

    anyway, again, i love your writing. you seem to be so clever and artistic and positive. cheers from northern british columbia, canada!

  2. I would not been able to eat a bite. The heat sounds unbearable, no place for anyone must less with a child. I am glad you left early.Sounds like a lot of
    Filth, just filth, they should know better, or maybe they don't care. I hope you did not let your child eat any of that food.
    I would have been very angry, and weould have left too.

  3. HOLY COW. I am almost speechless. [almost is the key word here people] Okay, first off, I can barley survive in tempratures that are a teensy bit over 100. Like, my body just won't work in heat. And here you are with your five-year-old daughter, and not only are you surviving, you are survivng amound the foul-ness of the dish-washing saga. If either of those things ever happened to me, I would probably kick the bucket and call it a well live life. But you guys, you guys rock! I am just in awe over how well you seem to be able to adapt to things like this and be able to see what's right for you and your child. And that is SO FREAKIN' AWESOME.

  4. I like hot weather but wow, thats just crazy! I don't think I could tolerate the food situation either- I'm pretty laid back but that is just dangerous. Could you imagine being sick with vomiting/diarrhea in that weather? Severe dehydration anyone? So glad you are blogging about your travels-I have enjoyed reading;)

  5. okay, yeah, it's unhygenic, but it's not filth. and the reality is that most people never notice, and most of the time, people don't get sick from that. the human immune system is much stronger that people think.

    anonymous, are you the same anonymous that left the ignorant comment about "surviving" birth?

    karli, that is freaky that we have a mutual friend. though when talking about leon, the definitions of what is freaky definitely changes. you know he reads here. and his mother too. LOL

  6. Yikes, I don't think that I could cope with heat like that :)

    The Rainbow gatherings sound a lot of fun though :)

  7. That's just gross - the hygiene bit. So much for mutual respect.

    I promise I'll wash my hands with at least 2 splashes of canteen water before fixing you lunch LOL


Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)