Mustafa and Ayat Mardawi keep their house’s door open to every walker that wishes to make an overnight stop in their picturesque village of Araba in the Jenin region.
Ayat Mardawi, excellent cook and mother of five children, is extremely pleased that the trail now passes through her village of Araba; and her husband Mustafa is as glad as she is. He believes the village has incredible potential as a tourist destination, pointing out that Araba has many archaeological and architectural remains from the multiple civilizations that inhabited the area across the ages. “There are Roman ruins not too far away from the place where we live,” he says proudly.
The couple is delighted to be one of the families hosting hikers on The Palestinian Heritage Trail and feel that this is a great chance to represent the people of Araba. “It’s crucial that visitors to Palestine get to know our local communities as they truly are,” states Ayat. “The interaction with our guests gives us an opportunity to exchange our knowledge, and it benefits also us – the Palestinians, the community of Araba – a lot,” adds Mustafa.
The children are also happy to have contact with tourists staying at their place. The eldest daughter Zeena learned English mostly by herself and loves to practice the language. Education is very important to the Mardawi family, and their older children can articulately discuss books like Jane Eyre and the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe with guests.
The Mardawi family is ready to welcome visitors in their new house. The building consists of two levels, so guests can have their own space on the upper floor. This gives hikers the freedom to choose if they would rather interact more with the family or relax a bit after the demanding hike that they have just finished.
The windows of the guestrooms overlook beautiful and lush olive groves, some of which belong to the Mardawis. “We were able to build our house in a great percent thanks to the money we have earned on selling the olive oil pressed from our olives,” says Mustafa; besides serving as a driving instructor, he is regularly engaged in working his land. He skillfully connects the traditional cultivation methods that he learned from his father with the innovative techniques of modern farming in order to meet the highest international standards for olive sale. “During olive season, all the families in Araba go out to pick the olives together. There are no quarrels or conflicts in Araba during this time as we follow the traditional of our ancestors,” he explains.
Mustafa and Ayat wholeheartedly support the initiative of the Abraham Path, which they feel teaches the history of the area where they live and, as Mustafa says, “Connects us more to our land.” Both would like to take an active part in developing the project and in actually walking the trail in order to “get to know the area surrounding them better.”
Meet the people who host travelers on the Palestine Heritage Trail
Get to know the guides of the Palestine Heritage Trail
Learn more about community initiatives along the Palestine Heritage Trail