In Jordan’s Baqa’a camp for Palestinian refugees, I sat with several women and piles of their cross-stitch embroidery. A fan blew the late May heat through a simple but neat room, where we sat on brown couches drinking small goblets of juice, followed by Turkish coffee and tea. Zahieh Ahmad Saeed Abu Rases and her relatives showed me embellished pillowcases, a mirror framed in a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns, clocks stitched on white Aida cloth, and sections of unfinished thobes, traditional Palestinian dresses.
STORY BY HEATHER M. SURLS PHOTOS BY ISABELLE BERNARD & HEATHER M. SURLS
Outside the northern Jordanian city of Ajloun, I sat cross-legged in Wael Rabadi’s olive grove, stripping ripe olives from just-pruned branches. Looking up from the work in my hands, I could see olive trees and oaks, grapevines and stone walls blanketing the hills in all directions. Eighteen hundred years ago, Rabadi’s ancestors owned this whole area, including the prominent hilltop behind me crowned by the centuries-old Ajloun Castle.
Ramadan’s vibe in Jordan brings streets full of twinkling lights and colorful lantern decorations; tents pitched especially for nighttime gatherings; children playing in their neighborhoods and celebrating with fireworks; traffic jams; overcrowding in restaurants and bakeries before the call to maghrib prayer at sunset; and people rushing home to break the fast and enjoy the iftar before setting off again to the streets. p>