All throughout the world, the Muslim community is currently celebrating the extrodinary holiday of Ramadan which lasts between 29 and 30 days depending on the lunar cycle. The main component of Ramadan revolves around obstaining from “pleasure” during the day time. What does that entitle one may ask? Well it means no food, no water and no smoking until sun down.
To some, that may sound like madness, and to be honest, in the beginning I was one of them. But after speaking with locals and understanding the meaning behind all of the restriction, I began to see the reason in it. The people fast to experience what it is like to be poor and experience the hunger that millions face around the world each and every day. Not only that, but it also teaches them great self discpline and helps to learn how to appricate the simple necessities in life – such as food and water. During the Ramadan period Muslims are also supposed to read the Quron in its entirity as well as pray five times a day. They also believe that the devil does not exhist during this month.
So how exactly does this effect my day to day life in Morocco? Well…
1. It is impossible to find food during the daytime. Seriously, everything is closed until at least 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, including certain supermarkets.
2. If you want to get a taxi around sundown, good luck my friend because everone will be racing to Iftar (the breaking of the fast meal).
3. It may feel as though you are living in a ghost town because no one feels like doing anything which requires phsyical actvity – such as walking outside.
4. The beaches are more crowded at 1:00 a.m. than 1:00 p.m. because a lot of young adults will gather on the beach at sundown to eat and then spend the rest of the night there. Once they are filled with energy after eating, families also flock to the beach at night too.
5. There will be a loud speaker voice which comes on at sundown and sunrise to call people to pray (This is called “Adhan” in arabic). At first, it was quite alarming to hear a voice yelling at you from the sky, but after a few days I hardly notice it.
6. People eat their “breakfast” at 3:00 a.m. before sunrise, so if you are staying with locals (like myself), be prepared for some early morning pot banging.
7. You cannot get couscous anywhere because the people fasting do not want to cook it.
8. You will feel guilty and get stares of longing if you drink water or eat in public, which is understanding competely and I would not reccomend doing it. People understand that we are tourists and not fasting, but drinking in front of someone who has not had water all day and is sweltering in 80 degree heat is just plain mean.
That being said, I am really grateful to have been able to experience such a different cultural celebration. I feel very humbled to be around people with such deep beliefs and have really enjoyed learning about the Islamic faith. I truly believe it is so important to experience others beliefs and come into them with an open mind. Just because people pray differently or believe in different Gods does not mean it is wrong or worse than what you believe in anyway. It just means it is different. If others were to open their eyes and hearts to different cultures, the world would be a much better place.
Okay, now for a litle update on Hannah life…
I have been in Morocco for over a week now, and I’m loving every second of it. My project technically starts on Monday, so more information to come on that later. The past few days I have been exploring Agadir and slowly meeting all of the other exchange particpants I will be working with. There are 38 of us total from all parts of the world – Egypt, France, Japan, United Kingdon, Thailand, Spain, Canada, Greece and Scotland, just to name a few!
For now, I am off to the Souk al had, a huge market with over 7,000 stalls to do some shopping.