After five years of being a Muslim my dream and goal of celebrating Ramadan in a Muslim country has arrived and begun happening. Yesterday was the first full day of fasting here in Morocco.
I spent the night before the fast began making sure to hydrate really well and beating the heat in front of the fan while watching episodes of No Reservations.
Ironically or perhaps not so ironically the show increased my desire to snack and drink water … while harboring the stray thought of how much I miss the diverse cuisine of America.
In staying up all night I was better able to notice the rhythm of my neighborhood busy and crowded in the early evening as everyone runs around trying to stock up for the whole month -dates on prominent display and everyone eagerly uttering Ramadan Mubarak to everyone they interacted with.
I was asked repeatedly by local hanut owners and co workers if I would be fasting. My response was always a resounding yes and I would chuckle internally after every surprised response to my answer.
Moroccan Muslims love to test the convert by getting us to do everything from recite Quran to debating hot button political topics like Israel and US relations.
I was hoping to see more festive decorations on the street but no outward signs of Ramadan such as lights or the famous lanterns or thank god no excess commercialization of the level of the USA during Christmas has happened here in my city.
The signs of Ramadan are subtle on the street marked by more young men wearing thobes, jalibiya and kufis. Young women dress more conservatively.
According to my site mates host mom – all the thieves have disappeared because its Ramadan – so its safe for me to walk home alone from their house after dark now. I will take that one with a grain of salt.
The weather is hot here 102 F yesterday at the heat of the day. Yet I was not thirsty until 20 minutes before breaking the fast and I was not really hungry even once it was ok to break my fast.
I spent the day reorganizing and cleaning my house. I then took a shower and walked over to my site mates host family and helped – well as much as I was allowed to help cook for the iftar.
This consisted of me being taught how to make asir -juice- from fresh oranges, water and sugar using a blender – think watery smoothie.
I then helped set the table and plate dates, honey, freshly cooked minsimin plain and one with onions and herbs in the middle, freshly baked- khobz deyel dar – bread of the house, cheese, country butter etc and keep it fly free by covering it with cloth until it was time to break our fast.
Also we had Sellu and Shbekia which are awesome but a tad too sweet for me after fasting all day.
That also does not include the coffee, milk, water and liben.
After the fast was broken – host dad disappeared for Taraweeh prayers and I asked to go along but he said I should wait for the other women in the family to return to Taza and then we could go all together.
My site mates host family is really shocked that many PCVs are fasting including my site mate – which I am personally really happy to see because its the first time I have seen a majority of them do anything that relates to Islam.
So I will inshaAllah be posting once a day during Ramadan .. so look forward to my next post.