Monday, October 17, 2011

Boarding the Bus: Tel Aviv to Kibbutz Lahav

August 1, 2011 -- After spending six days exploring Tel Aviv-Yafo, it was time to be assigned to the kibbutz I would be working on. The Kibbutz Volunteer Center directed me to Kibbutz Lahav, which meant an hour-and-a-half bus drive south from Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv Central Bus Station is now the second largest bus depot in the world after the Millennium Park Depot in New Delhi, India opened a year ago. Most Israelis use buses for intercity travel so it is an impressive site to see so many buses coming and going every few seconds. The station opened in 1993 but the seven-story structure seems much older. There is a run-down shopping mall that occupies much of the space with over 1,000 shops and restaurants. Only three of the seven floors are used as a bus terminal and the maze of escalators can be hard to navigate, especially if you can't read the Hebrew signs.

Lahav is located around 18 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Beersheba and less than a mile west of the 1949 Armistice Agreement Line and Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The bus driver dropped me off a stop too far, at the Lehavim Junction near the planned community of Lehavim. The Kibbutz Lahav volunteer coordinator had to drive to the intersection of Highway 40 and Highway 31 to pick me up.

Soon I would arrive at Lahav for my next adventure -- washing dishes and scrubbing pots and pans at the only Jewish-run pig farm in Israel!

Here is video leaving Tel Aviv Central Bus Station on Metropoline route 351 to Beersheba. Metropoline is a bus company with routes mostly in southern Israel (Egged is the largest transit bus company in Israel). You really get a sense of how much bus traffic there is as we drive past bus after bus after bus on our way out of the busiest station in Israel.

Here are more photos of the bus trip from Tel Aviv to Lehavim Junction. Click here to see the set on Flickr.