What You Need to Know if You’re Visiting Morocco during Ramadan
I was there, don’t worry, the same boat! Then, after few conversations with friends, or social network on what to do in Morocco and such, you finally find out that: you are off to Morocco right over Ramadan!
Yes, it will be Ramadan, and you are so scared of because.. you don’t really know anything about it! Will your trip be ruined? Will you be affected?
Ok, now let’s talk about my personal experience and I can hopefully convince you that is totally fine to travel to Morocco over Ramadan, and perhaps even better.
Reason n.1 : you will find out what is Ramadan
Majority of not Muslim people have always heard about Ramadan, but only a few really know what really is, and most of all, why it is. I put myself inside this range of people, and let me tell you that after my last trip to Morocco, I have finally got to know better about Ramadan.
Going on the spot, talking to local people, watching and listening to them, I’ve understood the meaning of Ramadan and how actually fascinating it is. In fact, I’ve realized on how many stereotypes I was still living on and decided to go deeper into this.
Ramadan is not only the 9th month of the Islamic calendar when Muslim fast from food and drink and stop smoking or drinking alcohol. It is not just about rules, what you can do and what you can’t do. It has got a more spiritual and personal essence, it is a belief and a soul cleanse.
Reason n.2: you will discover a different culinary tradition
When it comes to travel to a different country, I am very much interested in local cousin. Here you are in the right place, as like for every annual event, also for Ramadan there are some different dishes and sweets to be served.
A quick note about eating time: observant Muslims can only eat after sunset around 19.30 until 04.00 am among prayers in the Mosque or even at home. After 19.30 the fast can be broken, generally with 7 dates and milk. Dates are highly nutritious and easy to digest, which make them perfect to break the fast, as the body needs to get into food quit slowly after so many hours fasting. But why 7?? Well someone has specifically told me that is an old tradition, based also on good luck, and trust me, Moroccans are very much superstitious.
After the fast is broken, is time to start breakfast, called Iftar: and here many dishes will be exposed in every Moroccan house. First to start is Harira (lentil and tomato soup), followed by Chebakia (delicious biscuit covered in honey), stuffed dates, Hssoua Belboua (Barley Soup with Milk), Semolina Soup, Sellou (sweet made out of toasted sesame and fried almonds), Briouats (almond paste cookies or also filled with spinach and cheese), Almond milkshake and unmissable Mint tea.
Reason n.3 : you will learn how to respect other people belief
I was told to be aware of people as because of the fasting they could have been little “hot”.. so untrue! I have met so many lovely people, both women,
and men who just stopped me only to show me more about their culture and Ramadan itself. I was offered so many time to do Iftar with their family in a change of absolutely nothing. I was so lucky to experience Iftar with few families, humble people who opened their house to a perfect stranger. I could not have been more grateful.
Many shop vendors in Medina, stopped me not just to sell me their goods, but to explain to me more about Ramadan and fulfill my curiosity and my eager to know. It was great to spend long conversation in old little shops over a nice cup of mint tea.
Don’t be afraid to stop talking with people, the majority of them will just want to share their knowledge with you. Just use some common and sixth sense, as you still need to be aware of some people less kind.
Reason n.4 : you will understand that business is not always h24
Nowadays we live in the Era of the big shopping center: where shops never close, you can always find some open restaurants and your back is always covered. We perhaps start to give per granted this, like IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE like this. So as soon as we traveled abroad and local life rhythms are different from ours.. we start complaining? Well, if you go to Morocco over Ramadan you can probably start to learn that shop can close few hours, so restaurants and so on, and guess what? You will be just fine!
In the Moroccan cities nothing will change over Ramadan, rather then some local shops and restaurants close daytime, but trust me if you are really starving, you will still find some touristic restaurants open or even street food. Or maybe you can learn to have a normal breakfast in your Hotel/Riad and carry a bottle of water with you (as it can be very hot and for people not use to these temperatures is good to keep hydrated) and wait until sunset for your next meal. I am not forcing you to fast, most of all if based on no belief, but to try to enjoy the beauty around you and not craving for food even when you really have no physical need. We eat far too many times even when we don’t really feel the need but only because we have to, or we feel a desire.. in this occasion, we can learn on how to better manage our body and mind.
Reason n.5 : you will have be able to take better pictures
Clearly daytime, local people would prefer to stay indoors, due to the outside heat and the impossibility to drink water. So unless you are in super touristic areas, you will find almost empty roads, which means you can better enjoy the space, the surrounding environment and take better pictures for your collection. I have got so much time to explore the cities and some hidden gems, without the stress of crowds of vendors nor crowd of tourist. Perfect right??!
My trip to Morocco over Ramadan happened by mistake, as mentioned above, but it was a good mistake. I.ve learned so much about Islam and local Moroccan culture, so many silly stereotypes fallen and I have actually made so many new friends of different ages and sex.
I have learned how to respect others, why people believe a lot into Ramadan and keep up with their tradition. Part of this things is something I cannot write to you, you must go and experience yourself as I always suggest. Don’t be afraid to try, don’t believe people who will tell you that Ramadan can ruin your trip. True, it can change your experience..but in better!
Only few suggestions:
- Remember that observant Muslims, most of all the ones who must work with tourist have to observe their fast but still have to serve food to no Muslim, so it would be highly recommended to at least respect them and avoid to eat in their faces. All of them will tell you not to worry but is nice to eat and drink more respectfully.
- Between 19.30 and 20.00 try not to seek for food, as is the first 30 minutes Observant have to eat something after many hours of fast. It is just 30 minutes, I am sure everybody can resist.
- Don’t forget that you are still in an Islamic country, so it would be better to avoid short skirt or low-necked clothes. Nobody will force you, but it is a matter of local respect.
- Enjoy and open your mind to learn something new and beautiful
- About solo traveler woman: sometimes youngster can be a little to pushy on their appreciation. Keep calm and keep walking, nobody will touch or hurt you whatsoever. Morocco is a very safe country.
I am sure you are still eager to know about Morocco and what this amazing country can offer. My friend Federica can surely satisfies your craving with her experience in Sahara desert. You can discover this exciting trip with Federica, clicking here :