Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ramadan Challenges

I really wanted to be out of Morocco by this time but here I am. Looks like I will be here until the end of the year although my time here in Oujda is drawing to a close. I am finding Ramadan particularly challenging here because there is no place to eat, even after the fasting has ended. It is not a tourist town so no restaurants are serving food, even after the fasting ends around 7:30 in the evening. Well, that's not 100% true, McDonald's is open but I never patronize McDonald's -- no matter how hungry I get.

In Fes, there are always a smattering of places one can go to to eat during Ramadan and there are plenty of shops open for purchasing food, even during the daylight hours. I spent the first 4 days of Ramadan in Fes and although I curtailed my intake of food and water out of respect for those fasting --  and frankly because it was just inconvenient to do otherwise --  I managed to privately satisfy my hunger and thirst with little effort or planning. I wasn't eating at the times I wanted to eat, but I adjusted. Back in Oujda, I have been making my own food at home and eating a lot of fruit but one week into Ramadan and I am craving a pizza. And french fries. You see, I don't have an oven at home and my cookware is very basic so my fare is limited to salads, eggs every way you can think of making them, cheese and tuna fish. I had hoped the cafe near the school where I teach would serve off their menu but I just found out that is not the case. No problem. I could stand to lose a few kilos.

I began teaching my last term at the American Language Center today and the schedule is strange, to say the least. I teach from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm and then return at 9:30 pm to teach until 11:30. I will do this 6 days a week for 2 and a half weeks. The split schedule will take some getting used to but I am happy for the chance to make more than a month's worth of salary in such a short time. Getting a taxi is not easy on the return trip from school in the morning or the trip to school at night. I assume taxis will be plentiful when I am finished tonight, though. I am considering walking to and fro.

Based on what's happened the previous two nights, there will be music across the street from my apartment when I get home. Last night, it carried on until after 1:00 am, making it difficult to get to sleep. But there was a joy about it that I tried to inhale on each intake of my breath and to surrender to the rhythms of Ramadan. So adjustments are called for at just about every level and my sleep pattern will be divided into two parts now; six hours at night and a couple of hours each afternoon.

Ramadan is a time for reflection and I am trying to do just that as I reconfigure my schedule for just about everything. When faced with a situation that is not to one's liking, it is natural to resist and complain. But I don't want to fall into that trap. I am trying to adapt, demonstrate my respect for the holy month, and cultivate patience. Sometimes I actually achieve my goals.  
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