If you’re thinking about visiting Palestine and are looking for a cool, low-cost, out-of-the-way place to visit or and/or to help out you might want to consider Al Aqaba. (Al Aqaba, Palestine–not Aqaba in Jordan!! That’s a separate adventure and far more expensive!) Al Aqaba is a small village situated at the northern end of the Jordan Valley. Although it’s in area C the residents and especially the mayor have found a unique way to resist the occupation: by building the up the most beautiful village possible.
This includes a cheese factory, an organic tea business, schools, a beautiful mosque, and a guesthouse that houses both long- and short-term guests. The guesthouse is pay by donation and/or free for anyone who wants to volunteer in the village (teaching English or anything else there might be a need for). There’s even a brand new park that people from the entire region come to visit—especially during Ramadan.
The village appreciates volunteer English speakers, both short-term and long-term. You’ll have to pay for your own food, etc. but the lodging is free. It’s also a great opportunity for learning firsthand about the Palestinian culture and the impacts of the occupation in a relatively stress-free environment. (If hearing gunshots is stressful for you, then this isn’t really the place to be, as the Israeli military trains often nearby. They used to train in the village, with numerous stray bullets hitting people, but the village finally got an injunction against that. Now it’s just in the surrounding areas.)
Located just 5 kilometers from the city of Tubas, Al Aqaba is surrounded by beautiful, pastoral rolling hills and farmlands. Since the occupation, however, the Israeli army has taken most of that land for military training. Still, when they’re not around, it’s particularly peaceful. All nationalities are welcome!
So if you’re a low budget traveler and want to get to know Palestine or an activist who wants to find ways to get involved with the local people, or you just want to see what it’s like in the upper reaches of the Jordan valley, come on by. The guesthouse has wireless internet, a kitchen, and plenty of space.
For more on the history of Al Aqaba and it’s non-violent resistance to the occupation, click here.