by Daphné Tapia
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … The kibbutz Lotan. A five hour bus journey separates this village from Tel Aviv, where the excitement is such that you cannot hear yourself breathing. In Lotan it is the opposite. One gets up with the sun, listens to the flight of migratory birds and lives in harmony with the wild.
Part of the village is a perfect reproduction of the planet Tatooine, from the universe of Star Wars. The starry sky at night, free from pollution, could make us dream of spaceships. The houses are built in mud, to maintain a cool interior during the summer, and to isolate one from the cold during winters. In Lotan, we cook with solar ovens: a box of cardboard painted in black to store the heat and aluminum foil to emit the light. A few hours later under the burning sun and your dish is ready to be eaten. Thus, no electricity consumption is required. This is a real journey back in time. However, the rocket shelter in the right bottom corner of the first photo reminds us however that a Star Wars is still possible.
February 20, 2018. While a cold wave falls on Europe and North America, it is also the winter in Israel. At Kibbutz Lotan, 50 km from Eilat in the south of the country, one wakes up before 6 o’clock in the morning: 10 ° Celsius, work gloves and polar, the day can begin. It will soon be too hot for most of the physical work.
There is nothing like growing produce in the desert to remind us that a kibbutz is a collectivist village that adheres to the Zionist movement. Here, the ideology is still at the rendezvous. 200 people live year-round in the community. Every day, new groups arrive to spend a day, a week, a month or even a year. The way of life is unique: we share our meals and we always have a nice word for our neighbor. There are plenty of activities that are made to be shared with the rest of the world in order to spread the techniques of an ecologically sustainable life.
Kibbutz Lotan was founded in 1983 in the Arava Valley, in the heart of the Negev Desert. The dunes of sands that can be seen on the horizon are in Jordan. The village serves as a border. If the peace treaty between the two countries was signed in 1997, everybody unanimously recognized the beauty of the landscape. Every day, the sunlight reveals colors that differ from those of yesterday: yellow, red, orange, ochre, purple?
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the income of the Kibbutz consisted mostly of the sale of medjoul dates. The landscape is dotted with palm trees. In this kibbutz, one can find the milk of cows and goats, one can observe migratory birds and finally become familiar with eco-tourism: it was necessary to diversify the opportunities. The photo shows it. This is not the dwelling place of the inhabitants, but the eco-campus. Only volunteers and students live here. They study permaculture, sustainable architecture, as well as secrets related to solar energy and drip systems. Indeed, kibbutz Lotan produces many organic fruits, vegetables and flowers for sale and for its own consumption. Drop-by-drop irrigation is used to limit the evaporation of water in a region where temperatures easily rise up to 25 ° C in the winter, 40 ° C in the summer. Self-sufficient, this place consumes the energy it produces by diversifying resources: solar energy, wind, biogas, compost and recycling…
Engineers and farmers live here in the community so that their eco village model works to its fullest potential. The Kibbutz Lotan is at the hinge between vestiges of the past, utopia becoming reality, and gives a foretaste of what may the future may be.