||[Jul. 17th, 2008|05:50 am]
Bracketing the ego and shooting phenomenological reduction in caves in Israel is the best project I have ever envisioned. First of all, Israel/Palestine is full of caves; second I have been all over the country in caves – about 45 by now – maybe more: Flour and Sodom Cave in the Judean Desert, caves in the Golan, in the Galilee, in the Negev, Beit Guvrin caves; been in caves with some great guides in each region, caving usually involves hiking so I have seen Nature Reserves, Wadis. I have seen natural and human made caves. |
I contacted Amos Frumkin and the Israel Cave Research Institute @ Ofra. Frumkin is in China but a grad student Israel Naaman called me and is taking me around –which brings me up to now, July 15, 2008. Tuesday morning we began in the cave under the Old City in Jerusalem – King Solomon’s cave – actually a maze of caves; then we headed to Ofra to go to area that is full of natural caves not yet dug out – the cave Frumkin did his Master’s is. We (the grad/guide and I) climbed down 50 meters on at first shaky ladders and then steel ladders; the permanent water seeping turned the soft limestone and the earth brought in by the water into mud – lots of mud on the bottom where we had lunch. The next and big cave of the day was Achikam, discovered two months ago by Achikam, which required snepling or rappelling in and down 30 meters to the first ledge. I have rappelled before but not into a cave. Aborted once on the first two meters and then I don’t know; took the rope off the harness D – then checked – tomorrow’s major cave requires rappelling also; so gave it another try – this time got past the rough spot and kept going, lowering myself with the hand pulley; Israel balleyed me out after I reached the ledge. Do I wish I was braver yes, however, I am willing to take what I am bruises and all – you kind of come up against the cave wall. The last cave was under a highway in Jerusalem: open a steel door, let the pigeons out and climb down a ladder. Am I afraid most of the time, absolutely. With Israel you get out of one difficult cave endeavor and on to the next, God, I love grad students – they have a will to endeavor that keeps going. Israel will cave for 12 hours. Got home to Metzoke around 23:00 to get some sleep for day two of caving with the master’s student.
Wednesday July 16 it was cave Zavit, discovered two years ago, near Fasuta (upper Galilee). Picked Israel up at the Mt. Scopus campus, we drove north to Fasuta. Cave Zavit was an open rappel after going through a small entrance. In Achikam cave the rappelling descent and ascent was body against rock wall surface. The stalactites in Zavit were amazing – did a number of blindfolded shots which can never do the cave justice nor Husserl’s concept – but then Husserl never had this much fun doing his philosophy and his philosophy discloses this. Give myself a C on rappelling – there is no exhilaration – simply gratitude that I get down okay and return to the surface on the pulley rope and climbing rope; gratitude that I have gotten to see what most people in Palestine/Israel don’t. And after being in recently discovered 30 and 50 meter underground caves, Jerusalem is a bore, the only thing worth doing in Tel Aviv is the beach and old port now a new commercial area – caught a glimpse of the young femme hanging on as the then man of her dreams drove through the water’s edge in a 1943 army jeep painted white with a black skull and cross bones; he was wild, she wasn’t. Briefly grabbed her out stretched hand catching the water’s spray – hang in there baby – it gets better, way better. You may not get braver but you do get more tolerant of fear. Out of Cave Zavit, Israel cave me three cave options – I chose the water cave in the Har Hillel Nature Reserve – maybe because it required a 45 min hike down a mountain. The water cave was spectacular – wading through a narrow passage, often crouched – the cave scholars know how to do research. Again fantastic shots - back up the mountain at pretty steady pace – because it was almost 8 pm and there was another cave on the horizon. The nature guides give you eight hours of caving, the cave scholars until you are exhausted, and then another cave. The humidity was noticeable – my t-shirt drenched in sweat as I drank a litre and a half of water on the ascent. The final cave of the day we couldn’t locate – have to go through a street manhole (or whatever these are now called) in a Haifa neighborhood on Mount Carmel – and jump down into the cave – couldn’t locate the right manhole. Got back to Metzoke at 2am – doing a night hike with Asher and a group that ends in a cave tomorrow/today Thursday, July 17. There will be lots of light because the moon is full. Am I having the time of my life – absolutely, there is nothing I would rather be doing than caving. Am I good at it – not particularly. Monday, I am doing the two longest caves in Israel, with Israel. Starting with one in Sodom (5 km) and moving onto Harkatoon (3.5 K). We are doing parts of both. Cave dust is fabulous for dreads – makes them bigger and heavier.
Caving is fabulous for perspective.
I fell in love coming up out of Achikam – terrified being pulleyed up against the wall, bruising with small rocks bouncing off the hard hat. No human ever equals it – for a time, and Gad for a very long time, but nah I will walk away from any human just to go down a cave again, or whatever the new activity is.
Achikam was the young Jewish man who discovered Achikam. He was killed while hiking two weeks ago; he discovered the cave two months ago. Solidified the struggle for me; Ramallah is a very modern, high-tech wealthy city, people were fabulously kind to me when I was there last week meeting people from the right of return.
Cave(s) are deeper, older; politics a human invention, a new activity of death and demand, contingent on perspective.