The olive harvest has begun in Jordan. We had a nice rain yesterday and the farmers are saying it was just what they needed. Usually mid November marks the first days of picking olives but the recent rain and above average summer temperatures are causing an early harvest.
It was my day off today so I decided to get out of the city and take a short road trip to Pella, another ancient city of the Decapolis, which is between Ajloun and Um Qais.
On a map Pella is just north of the city of Ajloun and an impressive castle, Qala’at ar-Rabad, built by one of Saladin’s’ generals in 1184-88 AD. I took the road towards the castle thinking I could drive directly past it and head towards Pella. However, I quickly learned that the road dead-ends. Instead of turning around I decided to turn onto a little dirt road at the entrance to the castle.
The road lead down to the base of the mountain the castle was built on and wove back and forth through olive groves. Throughout the drive, the castle remained perched above me in the distance. I stopped to take some pictures and talk to some men harvesting the olives. One man, who greeted me with the old authentic Bedouin greeting, showed me the ripeness of the olives by squeezing one. The oil dripped as if it was directly out of a bottle.
I was amazed to see the size of some of the trees. The large olive trees in Jordan are called “Roman” olive trees, many easily dating back to Roman times and in this case at least dating back to the creation of this Islamic military castle. As you can see in the picture below, some of the trunks are the size of oak trees in America. It is hard to believe the trees have persevered through a thousand years of weather, disease and people.
I loved the idea that I was experiencing a part of the castle’s history that many tourist have never experienced. The trip also made me look forward to next year’s harvest and planning a farm visit to work along side friends in the olive groves.
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