Summer has officially reached Amman… at least, in my opinion. While Jordan may not have the disgusting humidity that Northern Kentucky does, the dry heat still makes for an uncomfortable walk to class. At least in America, I can combat the soaring temperatures with tank tops and shorts, but in Amman, I am forced to wear jeans and long sleeve shirts in this 87 degree weather. It almost makes me long for the freezing days of February when I would wear three sweaters and my winter coat during class because the rooms weren’t heated. Now it seems the shivering days of winter have been replaced by the nauseatingly warm cab rides of summer. I’m sure many Ammanis would argue that this weather is beautiful as it is still 20 degrees cooler than most summer months, but to me, 90 degrees is quite warm for April!
As we leave for Easter break in two days, I have been trying to ration my remaining food in order not to make an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. One tactic I’ve found useful is to make any free food last as long as possible. Today in my women writer’s class, we were served a complimentary brunch… at 12:30pm. I decided to try to turn this meal into breakfast AND lunch, so I only ate an egg white and several Arabic ping-pong ball sized fruits this morning at 7:30am when I was leaving my apartment. At noon, the hunger hit me in full force. This lack of fuel combined with the intense heat and my several layers of clothing made me feel extremely light headed. Thankfully I made it to class without passing out and was rewarded with a deliciously huge brunch!
However, this experience gave me a slight glimpse into the lives of most Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. For the entire month of July, Muslims fast during the daytime to prove their faith to Allah. Each night, the fast is broken at sunset with a delicious feast and family party. Before today, I had often glamorized this act – thinking of it as a respectably noble sacrifice for religion and overall bonding experience for the Muslim community. However, after my brief 5 minute walk in the sun with an empty stomach, I realized just how much of a challenge and sacrifice it is! Especially for devout Muslim women who wear the hijab and floor length coats, the heat must be several times as unbearable.
During Ramadan, most cafes are closed and many people choose to stay indoors during the day in order to preserve energy. I’m sure there are interesting and ingenious ways of coping with the hunger and heat (Tiffanny once told me her Muslim friend Nazly would constantly eat grapes at night during Ramadan because they contain so much water), but I cannot imagine having to endure an entire month – the hottest one! – without eating or drinking during the daytime. It would certainly be interesting to witness, but I do not envy those CIEE students who have decided to stay during summer. I would miss my short dresses and frequent swimming!