Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Caesarea, Some Rubby Fishing Village and Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz, Israel, January 10, 2023

No one new arrived in our room during the night and Paul from Germany, who is a light snorer, did not keep me up, nor did I wake him with my coffee making, shower and 7:30 departure.

I joined 3 others and we went to Caesarea which is a bunch of ruins but interesting all the same.  Caesarea Maritima was built by Herrod the Great about 25-13 B.C. as a major port during the Roman Empire (37 B.C. - 324 A.D.).  Later it was the capital of the Byzantine (324 - 638 A.D.) province of Palestine Prima.  The Muslims (638 - 1099 A.D.) conquered in the 7th century and it was the last city to fall.  People moved away but under the Crusaders (1099 - 1291 A.D.) it became a big port again.  The Mamluks (1291-1561 A.D.) destroyed it but in 1884 Bosnian immigrants established a fishing village.  It was attacked in 1948 then things calmed down and it became a National Park in 2011.  

This was a “self guided tour” which means you walk around with a brochure that explains next to nothing, taking pictures of things you don’t have a clue about and try to feel like you’re getting something out of the $15 you paid to get in.  Anyway…

There’s a great theatre with 2 seating areas.  It can hold 4000 people.  Towards the end of the Byzantine period it was converted into a castle and was deserted after the Arab conquest-

and next door is the amphitheater  - the race track.  The seven lap counter clockwise races thrilled the crowds especially because the turning points had sharp curves which posed a major challenge to the skilled charioteers and their horses.  The location perfectly matches Flavius Josephus’s description (so it must be true) that the hippodrome was built for the inauguration of the city in 10/9 B.C.  It was the venue for the Actian Games which were held every four years and instituted by King Herod to honour Emperor Augustus.  It’s 250m long and 50m wide and could hold 10,000 spectators-

There were 12 rows of seating all the way around-

Continuing on there are displays of chunks of pillars that have been unearthed such as this capital which dates from the Herodian Period (end of the 1st century B.C. to 70 A.D.) and is the oldest capital on display-

In 58 A.D. the Apostle Paul was accused of having caused a riot so he was tried by the Governor of Caesarea in these rooms-

Remnants of six public bathhouses have been found.  They had cold and hot running water (much better than many public bathrooms I’ve visited this trip), were a service for travellers, a prestigious thing to have in your city and a great place for socialization, naked socialization I guess-

The Palace Vaults were part of the substructure of the Roman financial procurator’s palace-

There are some mosaics here too-


The Caesarea Nymphaeum was the public fountain at the centre of town.  It was decorative, provided water and was a gathering spot-

Carrying on… I came upon a Byzantine (313 - 636 A.D.) building with a marble floor-

Below it they found a Roman mosaic floor (63 B.C. - 313 A.D.) depicting scenes from Roman mythology-

There’s an aqueduct in the distance but time was up so I had to return to the bus-

We carried on to a fishing village but first we heard about its beginning from a descendant who only spoke Arabic and had to be translated.  He would talk a couple of minutes and then the translator would talk about 30 seconds.  He had a lot to say but she didn’t!  Basically there were two families who settled in a swamp area just off the coast. No one in Israel owns any land; it is all leased so when a dam was built, their land flooded, a bunch of them got malaria and they moved to a smaller area closer to the sea and began a fishing village. They interbreed and have many children and now most of them are mentally handicapped.  They are Indigenous and education has only recently become important. What is it with Indigenous people? Anyway … as they get better educated they will be able to rise out of poverty. The man who spoke Arabic has a guest house in hopes to bring tourists to the area. I felt sorry for him because he has a dream for a better life for his people.  Good luck is all I can say.

The beach is all shells-

Water from the Crocodile River where once upon a time there were some-

The fishing boats-

A fishing net-

I was thinking this tour was a waste of time and money but then we drove to the Ma’agan Michael Kibbutz which saved the day!  The kibbutz is in the centre of the picture and all the fish pools are along the coast-

2000 people live here.  They receive money every month - our guide is married and has twins so a family of 4 gets $4649.  They live in their home for free and when they eat at the cafeteria-

The dishwasher-

They are “charged” accordingly and pay up at the end of the month.  It’s the same for the supermarket-

and the laundry-

where each family has a number on their clothes to keep proper track-

Everyone is required to contribute something so the laundry is an easy job for the sick, pregnant and old-

There are meetings of all members to decide on important issues.  Years ago they had quite a debate on whether art is important to a society.  They decided it was so there are various artists who display their work around the kibbutz and that’s their contribution –

There used to be over 300 kibbutzes in Israel but today there are fewer than 20.  They are being forced to change as people’s views change to keep up with modern times. 

It used to be in the 70s, 80s and 90s that a person could volunteer on the kibbutz.  They lived in housing like this –

Volunteers are no longer allowed so their former housing is now used for workshops and yoga, massage etc.  

A person can move to a kibbutz but this one is full at the moment.  If you want to become a member it takes five years allowing people to get to know you. Once a year they vote whether you can stay another year until the final year when you are voted in as a member.  Our guide was born here but her husband was not.  He moved there when he met her. He works in the fishing industry which is made from pools that were formed with dynamite. The explosions made big holes near the coast and these have since filled with water and fish. The kibbutz  makes its money from a very lucrative plastics factory which they have had since the 60s.

When our guide was a child she only spent time with her parents from 4 PM until 7 PM. The rest of the time she was in the infant house –

where someone was in charge of looking after the babies.  If one needed nursing in the middle of the night, the person in charge would have to go to the home to find the mother so she could come to the infant house to nurse her baby. At a certain age they moved into the toddler house and then into the child house and latter in to the adolescent house. She loved it but it stopped when she turned 14 which was 40 years ago.  Now the kids live with their families like we do. She talked about abuse happening and how they handled it. She has spoken with elders asking why they would allow this sort of child rearing to occur and a person has to remember that a lot of these people were fleeing Nazi Germany and this seemed like a good idea at the time.

Two families used to live in a duplex this size.  It only needed one bedroom on each side for the parents because the kids lived away –

The school-

Everyone gets a bicycle when they turn 13.  Each year is a different colour-

People 70 get a scooter-

They have lots of cars available to members.  Each car has a number-

so a person chooses a car through the computer-

 which tells them which parking spot it’s in. Then they can open the key case –

They all have personal fobs which allows the booking system to bill them for mileage and gasoline used.

The place was very peaceful-

and in no way deserted.  The people I saw were young.  

There are lots of daycare spaces-

There is a health clinic and a dentist. Hanging from the tree in front of the dentist’s office are a bunch of soothers. Our guide said that it helps when another adult tells a child it’s time to get rid of their soother but she said when they left their daughter’s there, they had to come back in the middle of the night to cut it down because she wouldn’t stop crying –

There’s a bar-

and an education centre so people can come and spend five weeks living and learning about life on the kibbutz-

Issues they are having now is there are families where one adult is a member and the other is not. All the money that a member makes working off the kibbutz is put into the kitty however a non-member gets to keep his or her money so they have families receiving their budget money including the non-member as well as enjoying the salary of the non-member.

18-year-olds still have to do their two-year service in the military (women) and three years as men. They can attend university which is paid for.

It was a completely different place than I imagined. I thought it would be like a Hutterite colony but it is anything but.  It is communal living; people helping each other and living in harmony although as our guide said things are changing and she is worried that in a few years they will be a thing of the past.

It was an interesting day!  I’m going on a Jaffa - Old Town, walking tour in the morning.  

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