Khobaizeh – It’s What’s for Dinner

Khobaizeh is a delicious and well-known vegetable, and this tasty plant grows in abundance here in the Jordan Valley. Nearly everywhere you look on the Peace Wadi farm, you will see khobaizeh sprouting up, notable by its signature velvety leaves and shape.  Spring is the peak season for this crop, and it is so abundant that the past four years Peace Wadi has hosted a khobaizeh festival – a five-week fete to celebrate spring, community, and of course plenty of delicious khobaizeh-based foods.

28056845_1819764664720598_7445142148048859992_n

A patch of khobaizeh growing on the farm.  Note the distinct clover shape of the leaves.

Khobaizeh can be prepared in a variety of ways on its own, or added to other vegetarian dishes to compliment the flavors of other leafy greens.  Today we’ll be sharing our favorite simple recipe to prepare this tasty plant, and in just a few steps you too can whip up a vegetarian khobaizeh dish the whole family will enjoy!

E97A9818 (1)

Sauteed Khobaizeh (Serves 10 as a side dish)

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

-7 white onions

-1 head of garlic

-2 chili peppers (add or subtract for your own preference.  Two gives a mild amount of spice)

-8 tomatoes

-5 large bunches of khobaizeh (enough to fill a large colander when chopped)

-½ lemon

-Salt & pepper to taste

-Oil

IMG_2203

For size reference, this is what we consider one large bunch of khobeizah

Supplies:

Large saucepan

Wooden spoon

Knife

Cutting board

Colander

IMG_2199IMG_2208

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

  1. Begin by dicing the onions, mincing the garlic, and slicing the chili peppers into small pieces.  Dice the tomatoes as well and set aside for now. Coat the bottom of your saucepan in oil and add the chopped onions, garlic, & peppers, cooking on medium-high until onions are fragrant and translucent.

    IMG_2207

    Our pepper-garlic-onion party

  2. While those are cooking down, wash your khobaizeh and chop the bottom inch off of the stems.  Roughly chop the khobaizeh into half-inch pieces, making sure to cut the larger leaves down to smaller size as you go.

    IMG_2205

    5 bunches of khobaizeh, chopped and ready!

  3. Once the onions, garlic, & pepper are finished cooking, add the khobaizeh and tomatoes to the saucepan and mix thoroughly. If the khobaizeh seems dry, feel free to add a small amount of water here to help with the cooking.  
  4. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  As the khobaizeh cooks down the leaves will begin to wilt, yet there should still be a bit of “snap” when you taste it.  Add salt & pepper to taste, and you’re ready to serve! Feel free to add a bit of lemon juice over the top of the dish for an extra kick.  It’s so tasty, we promise you won’t wind up with leftovers, but if you manage to still have some extra khobaizeh we recommend adding it to eggs for a delicious vegetable omelette!

E97A9818 (1)

Khobaizeh is an abundant and nutritious vegetable option.  It can be substituted for spinach in a variety of dishes, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to this tasty and resilient plant.  Have a favorite khobaizeh dish? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Happy cooking!

 

Megan & Kitkat

 

Advertisements

From Tree to Jar — The Date Molasses Journey

Date cultivation is one of Peace Wadi’s ongoing projects. Volunteers have the opportunity to help tend to the many trees, which require constant loving supervision. In the arid Jordan Valley, water is a precious resource; consequently, regularly mending irrigation canals along the roots of the date trees is of the utmost importance. Pollination, which is done by hand, is another vital step in producing the sweet dates.

This aromatic date fruit can be enjoyed in many ways, one of which is date molasses. Date molasses has a dark amber color and a richly sweet flavor. It can be eaten with yogurt, mixed with tahini and served with naan bread, or simply by the spoonful.

Peace Wadi volunteers also have the opportunity to help create this sweet treat!  Want to make some at home?  All you need is dates, water, and a little bit of spare time to create this sticky sweet dessert all by yourself!

img_1773.jpg

One of our favorite uses for date molasses – mixed with tahini to create a sweet dip for apples!

Date Molasses Recipe:

Prep time: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Cook time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

-Dates

-Water

Materials:

-Two large pots

-Empty and clean flour bag with holes

-Large spoons

-Large shallow pan

-Potato masher or similar tool to mash dates

-Sanitized* glass jars and lids for storage

Instructions:

    1. Begin by collecting an ample amount of dates. One large stove pot filled halfway with pitted dates (about 5 lbs or 2.2 kg) will cook down to one large jar.
    2. Wash your dates and (optional step) remove the pits. Ensure all dates are free from little critters. Place all dates in a large pot.

      img_1742.jpg

      Removing the pits from our dates

    3. Fill up the pot with water. All the dates should be fully covered in the water with at least an inch above the top of the dates– more water is better at this stage so you can really cook the dates and extract as much juice as possible. 
    4. Bring the water to a boil and cook for a minimum of 30 minutes but if you want to get the best molasses, cook for an hour or more. While you are waiting, you can enjoy some more dates as a snack!

      IMG_1743

      Our date-water mixture cooking down

    5. After you have cooked your dates to the desired consistency, allow the pot to cool down a bit. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan and mash the dates to help them release their juice.  When the mixture is cool enough to handle (but not cold), you are ready to begin the straining process.

      img_1747.jpg

      Our mashed date mixture just before beginning to strain

    6. Place the flour bag in a clean pot. Scoop some of the date mixture into the flour bag.img_2060.jpg
    7. Close the bag. Twist and strain the mixture, allowing the juices to run into the clean pot.  This job is easier if you have two people twisting opposite ends of the bag!  If you have a large amount of dates it may be easier to do this in two shifts, removing the dry date pulp and setting it aside.
      img_2067.jpg img_2064.jpg
    8. Repeat the straining process until you have strained all the mixture. Your pot should be filled roughly ⅓ of the way with this new date juice.  You can either discard the dry date pulp or eat it (we suggest mixing it with granola or yogurt for a tasty snack!)
    9. Place the strained date juice back on the stove. Boil the juice, then simmer until the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes or more. Be sure to stir the mixture every 10 minutes to prevent sticking/burning. When the juice is almost done it will begin to bubble quite a lot and become increasingly sticky– you will need to stir it more at this stage to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan. After most of the water has cooked down, you can cook it down to a thicker molasses or leave it more liquid at this stage.
    10. Wait for the molasses to cool. Pour into a jar if desired.  Eat and enjoy!

      img_1765.jpg

      Our beautiful finished molasses!

*To sanitize the glass jars and lids, simply soak and rinse them in hot soapy water, then boil in clean water for 10 minutes to ensure you store your molasses safely.

Date molasses can be stored at room temperature for up to a year or longer.  Do you have a favorite use for your date molasses?  Let us know in the comments below!  Happy cooking!

 

 

-The Date Molasses Trio (Rae, Kat, & Megan)

 

To Jerash and back

Jordan offers a variety of places that are worth a visit. The location of the ‘Peace Wadi’ farm enables volunteers who are working at the farm to explore the surroundings in their free time. We took this opportunity, did a little research and decided to go on a daytrip to the ruined city of Jerash.

It must be stated that Jordan is a country full of hospitable people and that is what makes hitchhiking a good option. So we decided to hitchhike to Jerash. It is 70-80 km to Jerash from the farm, depending on which route you choose. And so we embarked on our ‘journey’. We took 2 hours and 5 cars to get to Jerash from the farm. On our way to Jerash and removing from one car to another we were lucky enough to interact with locals as well. This interaction with ‘new’ cultures is what we find so alluring about hitchhiking. On the way to Jerash we were invited for a coffee with the most stunning view over one of the towns we passed through. We were also invited to a bakery to witness the process of bread baking. We tasted some of the freshly baked bread straight out of the wooden oven. After filling our stomachs with bread and coffee we were able to continue in the direction of Jerash.

thumbnail_IMG_20190315_140708_458.jpg‘Kidnapped’ by the locals to drink an arabic coffee with a view over the valley.

Once we arrived in Jerash we were immediately captivated by a stunning scenery over the town and particularly over all the Roman ruins that can be found on the archeological site in Jerash. Jerash is considered one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world. There are several theatres, temples, plazas and baths that can be visited on the site. We even witnessed some horse racing in one part of this ruined city.

thumbnail_IMG_20190312_123448

thumbnail_IMG_20190312_202409_600

thumbnail_IMG_20190312_122311.jpg

thumbnail_IMG_20190312_120254.jpgTemple of Artemis, South theatre, Oval plaza and some horse racing in the ruined city of Jerash.

Tourists coming to Jerash mostly do so with the purpose of visiting the archeological site. However, we decided to see the ‘authentic’ town as well. We walked through some streets while observing a simple daily life. We didn’t meet any other tourists while browsing the streets and the locals seemed to be very interested in our presence there. We were greeted by most of the vendors and were offered to taste some goodies such as freshly roasted nuts, some fruits and some sweets.

IMG_20190312_133223.jpgVegetable stalls placed on one of the streets we passed through.

In our experience time flies very fast in Jordan and so we tried not to stick around too long in Jerash. In the afternoon we started hitchhiking again. This time we tried to look for someone who would be willing to take us to Salt. Salt is a town that lies between the farm and Jerash and so it seemed very appropriate for us to stop by on our way back to the farm and have a quick look at it. Even though hitchhiking in Jordan is quite easy, there still is a tiny problem one can come across and it has to do with the language barrier. Locals mostly speak very limited English and since we speak very limited Arabic this causes some challenges that need to be overcome. But in the end a car with a man driving to Amman stopped and offered us a ride. What is amazing about Jordanians is that they truly want you to feel welcome and for this reason they go out of their way to help you as much as they can which in this case ended up with the man driving us directly to Salt. Such experiences make our hitchhiking adventures even more pleasant and memorable.

IMG-20190312-WA0014.jpgChilling and sipping some chai in Salt.

We enjoyed our walk in Salt – city of fog – tasted some more freshly baked bread, browsed the vegetable market, bought some tasty nuts and enjoyed some chai at the end. Once we felt satisfied with all the experiences we had made that day we headed to the traffic lights and started approaching cars driving in the direction of the farm, or rather to Shuna. After a couple of minutes we stopped a car with two guys who offered us a lift. We had a nice conversation with them and in the end they also went out of their way and brought us directly to the farm. We even got some flowers from them as a gift. How kind of them! As already mentioned, locals can be very hospitable and welcoming and that is what makes Jordan a special place to be.

thumbnail_IMG-20190317-WA0018.jpgSelfie taken on the rooftop of the ‘Peace Wadi’ farm – facing Jericho and Jerusalem – with Mohammad, owner of the farm.

 

 

 

Experiment by yourself

You are probably looking for freedom : your freedom, the freedom of the people around you or the  ecosystems freedom. What would happen if you were completely free ? The volunteers of Peace wadi are experimenting with a way of working without any obligations or rules . We didn’t learn that at school and it’s a challenge.

p1090806.jpg

Travelling by bike around the world I am looking for freedom. My wheels brought me a few hundreds meters from the borders with Palestine. Here I am not the only person who is looking for freedom. Mohammad, who founded this project sais that we are all the children of the valley. Very quickly you will understand that there are no obligations or defined structure. This sounds pretty cool and you’ll have a great feeling of liberty. It’s beautiful on paper but concretly is it that easy ?

There is a link between all the volunteer stories about this place. The challenge of being free. Being brought up in schools, as children we always have to do what the teacher asked us to do. After school it’s often the same with your boss when you get a job. How can we find our purpose in an open space full of possibilities ? This is challenging. Most of us needed few days to adapt themselves and to find the motivation. Peace wadi is quite a big place and the possibilities are endless. You can plant, you can make a movie, you can help the farm workers, you can write a blog post . You can do whatever you want because you will do it well with your heart. And It will be beneficial to the farm. This is the philosophy.

P1090796

When the evening comes Mohammad often sits down on the balcony and looks at the valley around us. It’s the Palestinian city of Jericho where he comes from. We never talked about that but you’ll see on the walls of the house a post card where it’s written ‘make hummus not walls’. Following my experience this summarizes the wish of this project and the people around it very well. This farm is a pretext to bring people together. It’s a very beautiful pretext because we cultivate food respecting the ecosystems. But at the end we mostly share , we learn from each other, we meet each other. This only can help us to be free together. Freedom is like everything we want to achieve : we need to practice it ! When you start your day no one will say to you : ‘go there and do that’ . You’ll have the freedom to choose. And this is a great opportunity to learn how to motivate yourself and how to trust yourself . Values that probably most of us want to spread in our society.

P1100171.jpg

Peace wadi is an open air laboratory. You’ll face a way of working that’s not common in our society.It can desorientate you in the begining but you will adapt yourself. Big ambitions are behind little works in a garden.

P1090819.jpg

A day in the life of Peace Wadi

We traveled from Brighton, England, to Jordan to help deliver a project with the International Table Tennis Federation and the UNHCR at the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
Akram, a friend back home, suggested we stay at Peace Wadi after the project at the camp had finished. Akram is the nephew of Mohammed at the Children of the Valley.
Mohammed came to Amman and collected myself, my wife and our 3 month old daughter and drove us to Peace Wadi, dropping from 1500m above sea level to 400m below. It was a beautiful journey.
We are breakfast over looking Jericho and Jerusalem from the balcony of the house on the farm. Three different types of delicious bread, houmous, eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers. Washed down with Moringa tea.
photo_2018-04-10_09-18-37
Just 5km from Peace Wadi, is the Baptism site of Jesus. Mohammed explained on the way there that for hundreds and hundreds of years Muslims and Christians had lived side by side and in peaceful co-existence. During Ramadan some Christians would fast in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters. At Christmas both Christians and Muslims would celebrate the birth of Jesus. Inter-faith marriage was a good measure of the depth of community integration. Each context was individual and people made their own situations work for them. We are told by people with agendas in the West that there exists a clash of civilisations and that cultures are incompatible. There is a long and rich history here that disproves this theory. We are all brothers and sisters.
photo_2018-04-10_09-18-39
At the baptism site there were visitors from countries including Indonesia, Spain, the Philipenes, Australia, France, Brazil & India. At the banks of the Jordan river we could see 5 metres in front of us people being baptised and blessed on the Palestinian side of the border. We were so near yet so far from the other side.
Next we met up with with Ibrahim, a local farm owner that grows bananas, and we drove with him and Mohammed just twenty minutes to a museum and for lunch at the Dead Sea Panorama. The views and food were breath taking. A very informative museum about the geology and history of the Dead Sea, the tectonic plates and movements of Jordan in relation to Africa and the surrounding countries.
From here we drove another 10 minutes to Mount Nebo, where Moses had climbed to the top of to see the promised land. The historic mosaics dating back to the 5th century have been incredibly well preserved. This is an area of incredible historical and religious significance. Moses, Jesus & Mohammed all walked these paths during their life times and whatever your religious, or non-religious beliefs, this is an important and historical land.
The dates grown at Peace Wadi are the sweetest and most delicious I have ever tasted. You can taste the heat and the sun that they have soaked up growing in the unique eco system that is the below sea-level, greenhouse of the Jordan Valley.

photo_2018-04-10_09-18-35

In the evening we had been invited to a meal at Abu Ahad’s house, the local Deputy-Mayor. The warm hospitality and insight into a culture through being invited into someone’s home is not something you can find in  a guide book. We shared an enormous maklube, a local speciality that means “upside-down” rice, chicken, lamb, beef and vegtables cooked for hours and then flipped at the end before serving.
Time spent in Peace Wadi has made me think of the late Jo Cox, MP, killed by a far-right extremist in her Yorkshire constituency. Her legacy is that we as humans have More in Common. There is far, far more that unites us than divides us.

 

photo_2018-04-10_09-18-34

Tennis Table with Tim Holtam at Peace Wadi

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tim Holtam from Brighton Tennis Club (England) was visiting Peace Wadi after 4 days at the Za’atani Refugee Camp. Here, he had been working with UNHCR and the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) on the ITTF Deam Buiing for Refugee Program.

At Peace Wadi Mohammad arranged for a group of 20 Jordanian Gypsy and Traveller children to come along for a table tennis session.

The players were part of the UNICEF program called MAKANI or “My space” in Arabic. Tim said: “back at the Brighton Tennis Table Club we work there with many refugee players and also the Gypsy and Traveller community. It was a privilege to run a session at Peace Wadi for these children.”

Exploring As-Salt

As-Salt, is an ancient town, situated about half an hour above the Peace Wadi, in the Balqa hills. It is the closest metropolitan centre to the farm and is served by frequent buses which charge just half a dinar each way.

The journey to As-Salt is easy and beautiful. I boarded the bus from Shuneh which is a five minute drive from the farm (or a half hour walk). Women were seated at the front of the bus, with men at the back. As we wound our way up the hillside with a lush green valley beneath us, I saw olive groves and cedar trees and smelt the sweet citrus of lemon trees lining the road. The hills were craggy, with houses perched on their sides, and as we climbed higher, the hills grew greener reminding me of the Scottish highlands.

 WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.43.53WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.43.56

As-Salt means “thick forest”. The town sits in between three hills; a location which allowed its inhabitants to benefit from fresh water resources available on higher land. It is home to the first secondary school in the country where nine of Jordan’s Presidents have been educated, as well as many mosques and churches. As I learnt during my tour of the Historic Old Salt Museum, the town prides itself on the good relations between those of different faiths, with one monument, the Al Khader Orthodoc Church, welcoming Muslims and Christians alike for prayer.

After my tour of the Old Salt Museum, I went in search of some food. A stroll through the market led me to a kind man who handed me a delicious, fresh pancake-like bread and told me the name of a local restaurant where I could sit for lunch. I greeted many people as I walked through the market and repeated the restaurant’s name until I reached Abu Hamiz’s restaurant, where I was given more food than I could possibly have managed in one sitting.

 WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.44.04WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.43.59
I packed some of the (mountains of) surplus baba ganoush into the last flat bread for later, and wandered through the streets before climbing up the Jabal Al-Qala hill, to the highest mosque I could see. As I reached the mosque, the Asr (afternoon) call to prayer began, and I took a seat to look out over the town and the valley below it. I caught my bus home from the bus station just below the junction I’d been dropped off at.
I’d recommend a trip to As-Salt to anyone staying at the Peace Wadi – the journey is gorgeous and there are plenty of religious and civic sights to check out among the hustle and bustle of Saltis going about their daily life.

A trip to Bethany: the Baptism Site

The Peace Wadi is no more than a fifteen minute drive from one of Jordan’s major tourist attractions, the Baptism Site.

Two days ago, Mohammad offered to take three of us to visit the site which is located a few hundred metres from the River Jordan.WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 16.44.58

As we approached the entrance, the views were dramatic; with rolling sand-coloured mountains providing the backdrop to a largely barren landscape with freshly constructed churches, deep pink Bougainvillea (called Majnune in Arabic, meaning “crazy”) and of course, the occasional date palm.

At the entrance, we were given a special pass which allowed us to drive into the main site and explore in our own time (rather than hopping onto the main shuttle bus).

After dipping our feet in the cool water of the Jordanian River, which serves as the international border between Jordan and Palestine, we were welcomed by Abu Elias, a friend of Mohammad’s and Father of the Russian Pilgrimage House within the Baptism Site.

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-11 at 22.31.35 (1)WhatsApp Image 2018-03-11 at 22.31.35

We then wound our way under a shaded path to the baptismal pool uncovered by excavations around 25 years ago, and which historians and archaeologists believe to be the site where John the Baptist baptised Jesus Christ.

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.45.18

I was surprised to see relatively few tourists visiting the site, given its religious significance. I also had not realised just how narrow the river was; no more than 20 metres wide at each of the points we saw it. At the furthest point we walked to, the river directly faced Palestine, so that armed guards on either side of the river stood observing visitors from around the world, as they stepped into the water considered by many to be holy.

 WhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 15.46.03
My guide book wrote that “with historical resonance, natural austerity and religious power, this is an extraordinary place”. My trip to the site definitely lived up to the bill.

My Jerusalem Visit: A ‘How To’ Guide

The Holy City

The holy city of Jerusalem is a full of history, unforgettable food, and some of the most significant religious sites in the world. The old city is a place of wonder for religious pilgrims as well as tourists and backpackers, with its unique mixture of bazaar, beauty, and religion; it is a city that overwhelms the senses.

da444741-6f0b-457f-9f5d-15715421f92c

Peace Wadi is located 500m from the King Hussein Bridge border crossing to the West Bank, about 50 kilometers from Jerusalem. At night, the lights of Jerusalem stop the mountains at the edge of the valley flicker just at the edge of the horizon. The prospect of crossing the border can be daunting, especially if like me you are journeying alone, but my experience of travelling to Jerusalem, staying overnight, and returning the next day was surprisingly uncomplicated.

Crossing the Border

I arrived at the King Hussein Bridge border crossing around 7:45AM, as the first bus leaves around 8AM. Inside the departure building (make sure you don’t wander into the arrivals by mistake as I did) you go behind the line of counters to the foreigners’ desk. I handed my passport in to the border officers and paid the 10 dinar exit fee. This process took a while, with a lot of waiting around,  but eventually we were shepherded onto a tourist bus.

We were given our passports back on the bus and then waited for the bus to fill up with passengers. The bus ticket costs 7 dinars per passenger and 5 dinars for each large bag which has to be put in the bus’ hold; this is the only way across the bridge, foreigners are not allowed to travel in the large coaches which the locals use. This is a bit frustrating, as the locals’ coaches leave more frequently and presumably cost less money, but there isn’t much you can do about it.

Once the bus was full, we set off across the Jordan Valley, passing by an oddly striking barren landscape dotted with deserted shacks, barbed wire, and beautiful rock formations. The river itself is very small and crossing it feels rather anticlimactic.

8c2890dc-e76c-475f-aacd-3de118027c70

On the other side, I queued at passport control, where an official scanned my passport and checked that I matched the photograph. Everybody joined a second queue for security; all bags had to be passed through an x-ray machine and everyone walked through a metal detector. After security, I was questioned at the next counter about my purpose for visiting, my personal background, and my plans for return. If you are staying overnight, have the name of your hotel handy. The visa is free and is a small slip of paper which is tucked into your passport. At no point do they make any marks in your passport – my passport looks exactly the same now as it did when I first entered Jordan, with no evidence of my having left.

To Jerusalem and Back

After exiting the building, I turned right and walked past a row of buses and around the corner, near to where the people departing for Jordan enter. Set in the wall is a small booth selling tickets for the minibus to Jerusalem, these cost 42 shekels but they will also accept 10 dinars (technically worth about 48/49 shekels).  When the bus has 10 passengers it leaves. The journey to Jerusalem takes about 50 minutes and I would recommend sitting on the left-hand side of the bus for the nicest view over the city as you drive in.

Throughout the journey, the minibus stops at a couple of checkpoints which can be a little unnerving. Have your passport and visa slip ready for inspection; it is typical for armed border soldiers to board the minibus and check everyone’s passports.

The whole journey from Jordan can take between 3 and 5 hours, so you should arrive in the city some time between 11AM and 1PM.

The bus drops you close to Damascus Gate, a main entrance into the Old City; asking anyone for directions should be easy if you are a little disoriented but you cannot miss the imposing city wall! About 100m in from Damascus Gate is a currency exchange with great rates (though most of the places I saw were pretty good).

I stayed in the Hebron Youth Hostel – a simple but inexpensive and clean hostel very close to Damascus Gate with good wifi and free dinner for all guests at 6PM each night – and did a whistle-stop tour of the city’s main attractions. I would particularly recommend trying the Knafeh at Jaffar Sweets. Beware that entry into a lot of sites does require modest dress (covered shoulders and knees) and that entry to Temple Mount is particularly limited. If you aren’t a Muslim who wishes to pray, you might have to do some careful planning to make sure you are able to visit the area before leaving Jerusalem.

I got the same minibus back to the Allenby Bridge crossing (this is the Israeli name for what the Jordanians call the King Hussein Bridge). The first minibus is at 7:30AM and it leaves from a small minibus stand behind the Golden Walls Hotel – this is not the bus station opposite Damascus Gate, but about a 5 minute walk away. It costs 42 shekels again and is typically a little faster driving as the checkpoint checks are a little less rigorous for those heading out of the city.  The last minibus leaves at 1PM, after this you will have to get a taxi which can cost anything between 200 and 400 shekels, try to negotiate a price beforehand, 200 is great if they’ll agree to it.

Back to Jordan

Firstly, make sure that you arrive at the crossing early enough, the Jordanian side closes at 1:30 on Friday and Saturday and the Israeli side closes at 1:30 on Jewish holidays.

At the Allenby Bridge crossing, I entered the departures building and went up to a counter on the right hand wall. An official checked my passport and visa, issuing a pink exit visa slip, and at the next counter I paid the 180 shekels exit fee, try to make sure you have this exact as if they’re busy they might not have change. You will get a payment slip with a bar-code on it. Go with your passport, visa, exit visa, and payment slip to the second row of counters – you present these 4 items to an official and then pass through a turntable to the car park.

You have to wait on the tourist bus, which pulls up directly in front of the doors on the left-hand exit of the building, I would recommend sitting in the shade and gathering as much patience as you can muster. It again costs 7 dinars per passenger and 5 per large item of luggage. The bus will stop halfway and everyone’s passports are collected by the driver.

At the King Hussein Bridge crossing, I passed my bag though the x-ray machine and then waited for my passport at the border control windows at the back of the building. The officials will check your passport and visa. This should not be a problem for anyone who has already come from Jordan but you cannot buy a Jordan Visa at the King Hussein Bridge, you must already have a valid visa. If you have any doubts, ask the border officials if you are fine to re-enter Jordan on your visa before you leave; as long as you have a valid visa it should be fine. From the border you can simply walk back to the farm, though you will greatly confuse and concern the numerous taxi drivers waiting to take people to Amman, who will likely assume you are lost and try to help.

My trip to Jerusalem was a wonderful contrast to the relaxing days on the farm and being so close to the border presents a great opportunity for a quick visit to the holy city. 

 

A Green Valentine

Our third annual festival in celebration of khubaizeh began on Valentines’ Day, the 14th February. The vibrant green symbolises life, love, happiness, and health; the perfect alternative for red on this day of love.

Khubaizeh grows wild in the valley. Its Latin name, Malva neglecta, perfectly captures the understated and humble nature of this herb. What makes khubaizeh so remarkable to us is its ability to grow in even the harshest of conditions; its ability to produce life and sustenance from dry earth without any help or human intervention. Chopped finely and cooked with onions and garlic, khubaizeh colours and enriches our lives here at Peace Wadi.

Our festival ends on the 21st March, Mothers’ Day in Jordan. In choosing to start and end this third Khubaizeh Festival on days of celebration, we desire for every day in between to be full of festivities, friends, and family.