Well, it's that time of year again. No, not Christmas, but Ramadan! For those of you that might not know, this is the month of fasting that is one of the five pillars of Islam, and during this time, no Moslem should eat, drink or smoke between the hours of dawn and dusk.
This is likely to have an effect on those of you who are taking trips with us in the next few weeks. You'll find that many shops, banks and restaurants will operate on reduced opening hours, as everyone rests as much as possible to conserve energy while they're not eating. Service will be slower, as people are going to be tired - wouldn't you be if you hadn't eaten since breakfast? Although your tour leaders will work hard to ensure that Ramadan disrupts your trips as little as possible, they'll need your understanding and patience for a while.
Having said this, Ramadan is a magical time in the Moslem world. Once the sun goes down, it's time to eat, and the breaking of the daily fast is an important social event, where everyone gets together at the end of the day to fill their empty stomachs. Festvities continue well into the night, with big social events taking place in people's homes, and the streets. One of my favourite memories of Egypt is being invited into a house in the City of the Dead in Cairo to break the fast on the first day of Ramadan - it was a complete honour!
So what I'm saying is that everything is going to operate a little more slowly, and the pace of life is going to be a little more leisurely for the next few weeks. Please understand that you are a visitor and that this is a very important event in the Moslem calendar.
Enjoy it while you can - it's a very special period, and you'll be experiencing something that you probably will never get the opportunity to experience again.
The Imaginative Traveller Online
[This message has been edited by Jim O (edited November 11, 2002).]