Sunday, July 14, 2013

It is the fifth day of Ramadan

 . . . and I have a new charger.  Yes, that means pictures.

The smallest of the doors to the King's Palace in Fez.

Hand-crafted pottery at a workshop in Fez.

Some of the zaleej in the Qoranic school attached to the Karaouine Mosque in Fez.

The famed Cave of Hercules.

Yesterday's sand-castle competition.
I was on the receiving end of the strangest catcall today.  A man on a motorcycle shouted to my friend and I a traditional phrase that roughly translates as "Oh God I am fasting!" and is usually used in contexts such as Ramadan when a person is forbidden a certain thing, such as water, though I'm sure he was thinking of more licentious activities.

A brief rundown on Ramadan for those who aren't familiar with it:  Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar, meaning Ramadan moves from year to year.  Ramadan is also one of the Five Pillars of Islam (Shahadah, Salat, Sawm (Ramadan), Zakat, Hajj) and is incumbent upon all Muslims except the very young, very old, sick, pregnant, traveling, or menstruating.  During Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn (Fajr - the first of the five daily prayers) until sunset (Maghreb - the fourth of the five daily prayers).  To give you a sense, dawn here comes at about 3:20 am, and sunset around 7:40, which makes for a just over sixteen hour fast.  This means I wake up around 2:45 am for suhoor (protein, protein, protein, and at least two liters of water) before going back to bed.  Ramadan doesn't mean abstaining only from food and water, but also from things like smoking, gossip, and sex, as an act of self-discipline.

Once I got past the second day, which was by far the hardest, the fast has been getting easier and easier.  Futoor/Iftar (literally breakfast - the breaking of the fast just after sunset) has been particularly enjoyable.  There's a small group of us from the program who are fasting, ranging from professors to a handful of students to the RD, and Futoor is generally equal parts food and laughter.  The Moroccan specialty for Futoor, aside from the seemingly ubiquitous dates and yogurt, is a thin soup called Harira, made with spaghetti noodles, garbanzo beans, and what tastes like a tomato broth.  Here in Tangier, though I have been informed that this is not the case in most of the other Moroccan cities, the soup also includes strands of egg.  I'm doing my best to get someone to teach me how to make it before we leave.

I leave you with a recommendation for a movie (Five Broken Cameras, which got a nomination for an Academy Award in 2012) and sunny thoughts from the Maghreb. 

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