I was very excited when I found out I was coming to Egypt during Ramadan. I’ve never been here during the Holy Month and I was very curious about it. Everyday life changes a lot because of it and what I can say so far is that I like it!
What we all know is that people have to fast during the day, waiting for Iftar time (sunset) to eat. But there are other aspects of life that are influenced by Ramadan. Clubs are closed, nightlife is over, but people gather to eat and after the sunset restaurants are so crowded, colorful and it seems like a huge outdoors party is going on across the city.
Most shops are closed during the day, and open during the night. So that’s the right time to go out! Cairo is always busy, crowded and loud. But nothing compares to this time of the year. Traffic is worse than ever and people are everywhere. I went to Khan el Khalili on thursday night (which is the same as our saturday night, as friday is the prayer time!) and it was crazy. I so love all this!
For those who drink alcohol, this is not the best time. Not only it’s hard to find shops that sell it, but also they are closed now or don’t deliver: it’s going to be tough! But I don’t drink so it doesn’t really bother me.
Another thing you should bear in mind is that even if you’re not Muslim it’s not really kind to drink water on the streets while everybody else is parched. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but it’s just a matter of politeness towards them. Plus, you don’t want people to stare at you, right? Not only people can’t eat during the day, but also they can’t drink – I heard that the most devoted don’t even swallow their own saliva – now, that’s devotion!
There is extra prayer time in Ramadan, so the voices of the muezzins is all around all the time. It’s magical.
Yesterday me and some friends went to Al Azhar Park, a beautiful and recently built (about 6 years ago) park in the old part of Cairo. We sat on the grass and waited for the sunset before starting our pic nic. We were not the only ones: many Egyptian families and groups of friends were there. The sun slowly went down and final prayer started. After the forth prayer people are allowed to eat. The atmosphere was so spiritual.
It was so beautiful. I sat on the balustrade, looking at the breathtaking panorama and it was so intense. Unfortunately there were loud tourists all around. But I could still concentrate on the sounds coming from minarets and it was so moving.
We went back to Khan el Khalili after that, where I bought some bed linen and stuff for my new room. Then we got a taxi back home. Weepy Arabic music came from the radio, the city around us was celebrating Iftar, and it felt so good. During these long trips on taxis, often stuck in traffic, I recall the best memories of the day, and every day I fall in love with this place all over again.
In the night we went out again and spent about one hour on a feluca (typical boat) on the Nile. It’s strange but it was the first time for me, and it was such an amazing thing: it’s so relaxing, quiet and silent. And the views are so beautiful.
And this was my second day in Cairo. It’s getting better and better. I feel good vibes. Just give me a job and it will be just perfect!