The sound of the waves from the mosques fulfilled the air of Amman, Jordan’s capital, when we arrived at four o’clock in the morning.
Once we started getting closer to the Downtown, the traditional Arabic-Muslim neighborhood of Amman, the noise of the minarets mixed up with many male voices on the streets. Most of the men were in front of restaurants and food stands. Why so many people out that late? “Breakfast before the first service at the mosque.”
Of course! We’ve arrived to the Middle East two days of the beginning of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar: the holy month of Ramadan. This month – which begins accordingly to the moon – the Muslims do fasting. Nothing should cross the lips between the sunrise and the sunset. Neither water, nor a fag. If there’s light into the sky, no excuse fasting.
It’s pretty hot down to Amman, the temperature goes beyond 30 degrees most of the daytime. The way of life here demands the men to wear trousers (tourists can respect that or not), what increases even more the sensation of heating. Get by a whole day without eating or drinking, change the moods. People become easier tired and irritable. Not saying the five praying times during the day which should be strictly respected during Ramadan. I was asking some information to the receptionist of my hotel when he excused himself, cutting of the conversation, rolled down little carpet behind the desk, kneeled, and started his praying.
Amman is not a touristic spot, for that reason, trying to cope with the local lifestyle might help when the exchanges are necessary. Solution for the Ramadan: carry a bottle of water hidden inside your daypack and drink only when nobody is watching you. For eating, the tricks are harder. Restaurants open only for dinner during this month and the other food shops around five o’clock in the afternoon for those willing to buy their dinner – which will be taken only after seven thirty. What about the tourists?
The keen tourist – and the hungry one – will discover, hidden behind long fabrics, the traditional food stands of Lebanese specialties, falafel and shawarma, mostly. A hint: if they are hidden it means they are selling off food. A place with a window showing loads of food don’t necessarily means it’s able to sell you anything, at least, during the day. The disguised ones serve essentially foreigners non-Muslims and the sale is made with the looks of complicity. If you want to take it away, your lunch will be place into a black plastic bag for not attracting somebody else’s eyes. If you decide to eat straight away, the solution is the hidden corners, behind the soft drinks machine, for instance. Even at the hotel, mostly of the time, we eat at our room.
The other day, we where into a taxi listening to a radio station in English when we heard this ad: “Fasting is good for your body, reduces the hypertension and protects your liver and kidneys. Respect the fasting and have a good Ramadan” and also “At this time, your wife might be preparing a delicious dish. After a whole day fasting, you deserve a good dinner. Have a good Ramadan.”
Translated from the original in Portuguese