Rabat and the spirit of Ramadan

It is raining. It is SO raining. Rabat and Rain. Rabat is an hour by train from Casablanca, and I’m sure it’s a nice town. Pretty. Whitewash buildings echoing the Portuguese style. I read about the pirates and prisons, I saw cannon holes and fortresses. The studded blue doors and pretty pots of the rocky outcrop of the Kasbah des Oudiaias. All through a veil of water. My feet were so wet the dye in my leather sandals ran and have stained my feet a dark brown. So very attractive.

The journey home was in sodden clothes on a train with the air-con turned up to 10. Made all the more special by a 45 minute delay in the wilderness. We were there so long, it was time for fitar, or breakfast, the first meal of the day in Ramadan, at 6.45pm. The carriage literally turned into a moveable feast, to steal and bastardise Hemingway.

Middle-aged men all around me suddenly pulled out elaborate picnics packed by their wives – plastic boxes of dates, thermoses of hot water, good-smelling pastries. I had some water and harsha, that deliciously calorie-laden puffy fried bread of semolina that’s sold hot in the markets, and took my seat in the train to eat.

Then the kind man in the next seat poured me a cup of hot, mint tea. Heaven, I started to thaw! He then handed me a small bowl of bright yellow harrira (thick, traditional Moroccan soup) and a sweet crisp fried pastry stuffed with pistachios, then put on his hat and coat, and disappeared into the engine room to drive the train home to Casablanca. Truly the spirit of Ramadan.

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