By Stephanie Twaissi
When I first saw our flat in Wadi Musa all my attention went to one thing – the scenery that unfolded before me. In the distance the dramatic mountains of Petra and closer to our doorstep ancient stone buildings, now the home to various animals, and an abundance of olive trees. Growing up in a big city in the UK I never really had the chance to connect with nature but here I found peace.
When the annual olive harvest came around that first year I couldn’t wait to lend a helping hand. The atmosphere that buzzes around town late autumn is something I now look forward to every year.
Early in the morning families load up the empty crates into the back of pick ups, pack some food and other supplies and make their way to the olive grove. My in-laws usually take a detour to the market to get breakfast. I’m not sure there is a better way of starting the day than sitting down under olives trees that have been standing for more than half a century with fresh bread, hummus and falafel accompanied by a sweet tea brewed on the fire.
When it’s time to start work families split into roles – the more agile, experienced and well…brave head start climbing emptying the higher part of the tree branch by branch dropping the olives onto the large sheets placed on the ground below.
Others take the middle of the tree trying to find even ground to balance the ladder whilst the remaining family members take the bottom branches, or a seat on the ground and begin to sort the olives from the leaves. Slowly but surely the empty crates are filled.
When the sun begins to dip it signals home time. The once empty crates are loaded to the top with beautiful olives which will soon be taken to the press.
Families exhausted from the days work make their way home to relax until the next day. In my family we were always lucky enough to be greeted by a beautiful home cooked meal prepared by one of our large family members that weren’t able to make it that day into the olive grove.