This week I’ve noticed an increasing amount of content whizzing around social media about Ramadan, and rightly so. It started on the 9th of July and will continue for 30 days until 7th August, which marks the Muslim celebration of Eid-al-fitr. This time last year I was lucky enough to experience Ramadan in Agadir, Morocco. Here’s my story…
With some Muslim friends and an interest in religion, I have always been aware of Ramadan and the practises behind it. But it wasn’t until I spent both the fasting and celebratory period in a Muslim country that I truly appreciated the significance of Ramadan. After enjoying 5 nights reviewing two 5* hotels in Marrakech (the Es Saadi Palace and Sofitel Imperial Palace), I decided extend my professional trip into a personal one by heading south west to the coastal town of Agadir.
Once dubbed by some clever marketing peeps as the place of ‘365 days of Sunshine’, I was looking forward to escaping the hazy madness of Marrakech for some blue skies and a fresh sea breeze. I stayed at the Atlantic Palace Resort, which was a huge but lovely hotel set back about 200 meters from Agadir’s long sandy beach.
On my approach to Agadir, it was like entering a ghost town. Considering it was midday, in August, in Morocco, during Ramadan, the tumbleweed was right on cue – and fair enough. If I were fasting for 18 hours without food or water for 30 days straight, I’d probably become nocturnal too. Although a tiny part of me did hope the lack of human activity was entirely down to Ramadan and not because Agadir was a crappy lifeless place.
By the evening of my first day, I was assured that Agadir was NOT a crappy lifeless place. Quite the contrary in fact! Come nightfall, the place came alive and the very same streets that were deserted had become hubs of activity. Masses of locals oozed from out of the woodwork and flocked to the beachfront promenade. Lined with restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlours, the promenade was THE place locals went to socialise and break their fast.
What was really lovely about this was the sense of community spirit. Every night was a mini celebration and families, children, teenagers and elders were all out til the early hours of the morning enjoying the occasion – with no alcohol involved of course. Much to my delight, the head count of ignorant western holidaymakers and boozy Brits was the lowest I’d ever seen in a sun drenched beach resort. And the few holidaymakers that were there seemed to be totally respectful and more than happy to soak up the atmosphere alongside the locals.
On the last day of Ramadan, other wise known as the eve of Eid, even more people came out to join in on the action. Nik and I jumped into a taxi towards the promenade (it was a distinctly memorable and crazy taxi ride but that’s another story!) Cars were jammed nose to tail on the road and full of families heading the same direction as us. There were people walking, cycling, laughing in the streets, all heading in the same direction. The atmosphere was mounting. It was a far cry from the ghost town I had driven into just a few days before.
On the night itself we ate some fantastic seafood in a seafront restaurant and watched the hoards of locals go by, all out to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid. Families and friends stayed up all night playing games, socialising and eating til very late. The atmosphere was amazing and the Arabic message of ‘God, People, King’ lit up on the hillside only added to the unique cultural experience. Although Agadir has become a popular holiday destination, it is still primarily populated with local Muslims who still embrace traditions. I loved Agadir and visiting during the special time of Ramadan made it even more of a memorable trip.
Have you been to Agadir or experienced Ramadan in a Muslim country? Perhaps you are taking part in Ramadan and interested to hear about it from a non-Muslim perspective? Let me know what you thought of my post by leaving me a comment below!