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Reisverslag The big shift: Ramadan is over
11 augustus 2014
The big shift: Ramadan is over
After almost a month of experiencing Ramadan here in Morocco, it is a welcome change that it is over now!
I was expecting some very big changes, but it has been probably even more intense than I expected at first.
The change you see in people was obviously something that I was expecting to see, but that does not make it less amazing.
It is as if the country has woken up from a deep winter sleep.
Sheer happiness has been everywhere the days directly after Ramadan was over. People are a lot more active and it’s such a nice thing that I do not have to plan my trips to the supermarket anymore at crazy times, since they are open during the day again.
Also within the big, modern office building where I work, changes are everywhere. For example, it turns out that it is actually a very crowded place, which I had not expected for during Ramadan I barely saw any people walking about. But now, it is almost a fight to get to the cafetaria’s garden by lunch time to get a nice place to sit in the shades.
The day(s) of the festivities after Ramadan, I have spent in Tangier. After a long journey by train up north, I arrived with my travel buddy Nadine at the Mediterranean shores of Morocco. It is truly beautiful up there! Extra bonus; people speak more Spanish than French, so this was for me a welcome distraction from struggling with my rusty high school French in Casa to actually being able to have nice conversations with people in Spanish.
Tangier is a very touristic and yet at the same time a very relaxing city; in many ways the complete opposite of the craziness of Casa. It was nice to experience to go the beach and wear a bikini without being stared down, something that happened all the time during Ramadan. Therefore, I’ve only tried that once during the holy month.
Something that still keeps fascinating me even after a good month being here is the way in which men are very manly and macho, but at the same time very touchy-feely amongst each other. It is more than normal to see men kissing each other on the cheeks when greeting, walking down the streets putting their arm around the other guy’s shoulder or sometimes even hold hands. In Tangier, we saw it even more often than in Casa.
But, do not think about seeing this as ‘gay’ for this is completely not the way they approach this. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, despite the physical contact amongst men here, it is difficult to find people with an open mindset considering being gay. As I am writing this blog on the day of the Canal Parade in Amsterdam, I have had several conversations regarding this topic here today. But much more open minded than ‘maybe they need to be convinced that their actions are wrong by talking to them and educating them’, I have not encountered in these discussions. When I mentioned the first Moroccan boat in the Parade this year, I saw the Moroccans exchange some looks as if I was joking. ‘That is definitly not discussed with Moroccans in Morocco’ was the conclusion of that news.
After the holidays we spent in Tangier, the trip back to Casa showed a bit of the ‘danger’ and ‘aggressive nature’ of people here in Casa my Moroccan friends from back home warned me about.
When we had almost reached Rabat, we heard screams coming from the end of our coupé. It sounded like a very heated argument, so instantly most men in our part of the train stood up to check on what was going on.
The yelling and sounds of fighting continued well after we arrived at the fist station in Rabat. It turned out that there was a guy without a valid ticket on board of the train. Instead of giving him a fine and kick him off the train at the next stop, the train officials decided to confront him directly what turned into a heated argument and even some fighting in the back of the coupé. What I was most surprised about, is that apparently none of the officials thought of just escorting him out of the train at the first stop and have him arrested there, since I assume that a city like Rabat is capable of taking care of that. Instead, he stayed on the train until the final destination, Casablanca, only to be arrested there.
The coming three weeks the EP flat we stay in will be fully filled. We are now with 9 people in the three bedroom apartment and all with different nationalities, bringing all sorts of different norms and values in.
I am sure that from this experience, I will learn a lot about other cultural differences besides the ones set out for us by the Nour Project!
11 augustus 2014 18:53 | Door: Sharon
Wat een heerlijke levenservaring doe je op, daar zul je de rest van je leven profijt van hebben, maar ben blij dat je er bijna weer bent!
Enjoy en tot gauw.