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Olive Harvest in Jordan

If you happen to be in Jordan in autumn, you are definitely lucky! …because that means that you can participate in the olive harvest, and experience this memorable event up close as you work alongside local families.

 

An essential part of Jordanian culture

 

The olive harvest is an established event in Jordan’s calendar. Since thousands of years it holds significance both in terms of tradition and in terms of being a vital source of income. This makes the farming of olives an essential part of Jordanian culture and economy. The products that emerge are diverse, and besides the olives also the wood is very valuable. It is fashioned into a variety of products from jewelry to household items and furniture, and then sold. Important note: Only wood from non-producing trees is used for that.

 

But the real deal are the olives! Or perhaps rather what’s made out of them is. Jordan is one of the world’s top-10 producers of olive oil. And this is a good thing, for it is also consumed by the gallon here. Practically every meal uses this precious ingredient – a local favorite is simply bread dipped in olive oil and Za’atar, a traditional Arab spice mixture consisting of thyme, roasted sesame seeds, salt, and additional other spices.

 

Olive Picking

 

Wondering if you would be up to that task?

 

So, as stated above, if you are in Jordan during autumn, you have the great chance to visit a farm and participate in the olive picking process.

 

Here is a simple how-to:

 

1. Stretch plastic tarpaulins below the tree.

 

2. Pull your hand down every single branch, stripping the trees of the ripe olives, which then fall onto the tarpaulins.

 

3. Once the tree is stripped of all the olives, shake them into the middle of the tarpaulin. Sift through them, and also remove the twigs that have fallen into the mix.

 

4. Also collect any olives lying on the ground. Don’t even think about throwing dried and shriveled olives which are seemingly past their best! They are actually the best kind to take to the press. This is because the water has evaporated from them, leaving only concentrated oil behind.

 

5. Pile the olives, now twig free, in buckets, which are poured into sacks. These sacks get transported to the warehouse and factory where the press lives. There, they are churned and juiced, pulped and purified, until only the gorgeous yellow oil remains.

 

 

This experience, which is part of our weekly walks program, offers excellent insight into a process that is at the heart of Jordanian culture, in terms of economy, cuisine and tradition. Of course, not all olives are turned into olive oil. There is another process that begins to create olives for eating. Yum! But that is for another post.

 

If you’re in Jordan now, sign up for the harvest – for a day in the fresh air of the green northern countryside with many new interesting insights and a lot of fun for young and old. You won’t regret it!

 

Get more information about this and other cultural experiences, events and trips here.

Amber Week 4
Amber Stowell’s 4 Week Journal (Week 4)

Cycling in Wadi Rum

We, at Experience Jordan, have thoroughly enjoyed having Amber working for us over the past month. We are equally happy to see that in her final journal she embraces the enthusiasm we all have for wanting to get out and experience Jordan. For those who have been following Amber’s journal, check out her final entry below: 

At this point, living in Jordan feels more like the norm for me. I’ve gotten used to walking in front of traffic when crossing the street and I don’t notice people staring as much. While I may be terrible at directions and speaking the language, I feel slightly more comfortable in this foreign country than I thought I would. It’s strange how in just over a week I’ll return to the same old schedule and flow of life. While I am excited to see my friends and family, I have enjoyed the break from my regular responsibilities.

Eid al-Adha

This week is also an observed holiday in Jordan called Eid al-Adha, which is a Muslim festival that honors the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. On the first day of Eid  I was unaware that the holiday had started, so I got up and went to work only to find a cleaning lady there. Since I had a surprise day off of work I headed to the mall to kill some time and do a little shopping instead.

Cycling in Wadi Rum

For the actual weekend (Thursday and Friday here in Jordan), I was fortunate enough to go on a tour to Wadi Rum with Nader Bikes. It was a long bus ride there and we had a little trouble getting stuck in the sand, but we made it to the bedouin camp in the late afternoon. After unpacking and eating, we headed out into the desert salt flats on our bikes.

The refreshing cool of the evening was finally upon us, making the ride much more enjoyable. The vast empty space with the sun setting over the rock formations was a magnificent sight. Once we got back to camp, we ate some traditional food prepared by the bedouins. We spent the rest of night enjoying everyone’s company and hiking up a small sand dune to get a better view of the stars. The moon was so bright that it drowned out some stars, but it was still a pleasant view of the night sky. The next morning after breakfast we set out into the sandy desert with two pickup trucks and seats built into the bed. We drove through the sandscape, stopping along the way to learn about ancient carvings and way of life hundreds of years ago.

Good bye Jordan…

Overall, my trip to Jordan has been an enjoyable one that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I’m fortunate to have been able to experience life on the other side of the globe and appreciate the differences that make this world so wonderfully diverse.

(Edits by Juliane)