Ramadan is well underway here in Marrakech and daily routines are slightly modified.
Or in my case, completely.
Because this year I’ve decided to fast. You see my first Ramadan was such a special experience as I joined friends for ftour I didn’t think twice about staying the following year. But the second year was different. You see I was managing a collection of riads and finding the balance between appeasing the boss’s expectations to run the business as usual and my staff who struggled with late nights eating and hot, hot, hot daytime temperatures, I vowed to never spend another month of Ramadan in Marrakech again.
But slowly I started to add a week. Then 10 days. And this year, I’ll be here for the entire month.
So in anticipation I started mentally preparing myself up for a month without end of the day drinks. I spent the last weekend before Ramadan dancing the nights away. I actually burst out in tears about 10 times two days before the expected Ramadan start date (we never know when exactly Ramadan will start as it depends on moon sightings), fearing that the days would be so long and so boring. I had to curb my tears with trips to Starbucks, oddly my happy place in Marrakech. Ridiculous I know!
But then I decided, if you can’t change it, embrace it.
And so I’ve decided to fast alongside my amazing Say Something Communication team where we spend our shortened days preparing social media content for riads, small businesses and cafes we count as clients; responding to media requests for a small-business media superstar; and preparing new products to launch for another client.
Over at Tasting Marrakech we’ve decided to modify our food tours of Jemaa el Fna with a Ramadan nights food tour and have been enjoying ftours with fascinating guests from around the world in the heart of Marrakech, admiring the evening calls to prayer at the Koutoubia Mosque and eating too many Ramadan sweet treats.
So for first-timers visiting Marrakech during Ramadan, I have the following tips:
- Engage in local traditions. Head out for a ftour either at a street-side cafe or a fancy palace. There are no shortage of options available. Or have a late-night meal and soak up the night-time ambiance alongside locals.
- Wander past the Koutoubia Mosque at night and listen as the muezzin melodically leads the prayer as thousands of worshippers gather.
- Dress appropriately. Or rather cover up. It’s the holiest month of the year when locals are expected to abstain not only from food, drink, smoking, but also sex during daylight hours.
- As respect to those fasting, be conscious of eating, drinking and smoking in public, especially in the final hours of the day when hunger and thirst hit and the desire for a cigarette (or in my case a coffee) is strong.