This was a public meeting in the Village Hall attended by various political figures from the Palestinian Authority and nearby towns. The main topics were the increasing unemployment and poverty in the village since the Wall was built. Politicians tend to be much the same the world over so there was lots of "We are doing our best" and "It's out of...more
The Wall in this part of the West Bank has been completed now, although there are rumours that it might be enlarged again. Around the Jayous area it takes the form of an 8 metres tall high-security fence, complete with barbed wire and occasional watchtowers. To get through the Wall you have to use the special gates at varying intervals. Some are...more
There aren't really any places to eat out in Jayous - most people eat at home with friends and family. There used to be a schwarma and felafel shop but it shut down earlier this year. But what they do have here are delicious sweets, especially during Ramadan. As well as knafeh and the usual assortment of Syrian and Turkish style sugar coated delights, the most famous here is katayef - a small pancake made with sugar and water and filled with cheese or nuts.
Everyone knows the best sweets in Palestine are found in Nablus, but the ones in Jayous apparently run them pretty close. One shop had its own unique service methods - the katayef are lowered from the kitchen above the shop by a bucket on a rope! If you try them cold they're nice, but if you try them piping hot and freshly cooked they're delicious!
I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that Jayous isn't a great place for bars and nightclubs. Nightlife basically consists of an occasional smoking of nargileh (water pipe) and sitting around drinking tea and nibbling on katayef.
The only time things do liven up tends to leave you wishing you were still sipping tea - the army generally comes into the village most nights, all flashing lights, heavily armed humvees and loud sirens. On my first night here a young man was arrested at the Wall checkpoint and we had to spend several hours comforting his frantic mother (who already had a son in prison for the past year). Fortunately he turned up again before the end of the night.
Another night the army encircled the edge of the village and set off a couple of explosions. They were on their way through the village but in a rather cute method of resistance a few of the local kids built their own mini-Wall, consisting of a donkey trough and rocks laid across the road and blocking the path. Of course the soldiers could remove it all with ease but they hate to leave their vehicles in case it could be an ambush. So instead they just turned round and left. Very clever, kids!
Because of the problems the villagers have harvesting their trees since the Wall was built, they are grateful for any help from outsiders. So off we went for a weekend to help a friend with his family's trees. The olive harvest mostly begins in October - it's best to wait until the rains come, but not always possible. This year it was dry, hot and...more
Once ourselves and the olives are back in the village, and once we've eaten (lots and lots!), the picked olives are taken for pressing to produce the olive oil. Jayous has one press that serves all the surrounding villages, some even coming from near Qalqiliya to press their olives here. When the Wall was first built, the procedure for getting into...more
Sometimes it's not quite that easy to get home and eat. While the gates were supposed to open at 4pm it was well past 5pm when the soldiers finally turned up to let us back into the village - after it had gone dark and after we had sat and listened to the mosque signalling the end of the day's fasting. After a day's hard work with no food and water...more