The Muslim holy month of Ramadan runs through September, and many Westerners wonder how the cultural and religious practices might affect their travel in the Muslim world. The answer depends on where you’re traveling and how strictly the local population adheres to the rules. But by and large Westerners can survive without starving, and there’s a lot to be said for getting into the rhythm of the place and becoming part of the celebration, as much as an outsider can. Triporati Middle East expert Lara Dunston enjoys Ramadan so much she’s posted some guidelines, “9 Reasons to Love Ramadan.” Read it on her blog, Cool Travel Guide, then get ready for the post-sunset feast.
Some time ago I was traveling via taxi from the Manila airport to the center of the city and was amazed that the traffic seemed to veer all over the road, unmindful of lane markings or what car should be where. To an American (me) it seemed complete chaos, but to the Filipinos it was smooth as could be. Everyone’s awareness was on the vehicles around them, not on their “right” to the lane they were in. Later, in the city, I was further amazed to see that when too much traffic flowed in one direction and there was room on the other side of the road, drivers simply crossed the center line and took over a lane or two, so traffic coming the other way had to squeeze over. Again, madness to an outsider, but it actually allowed the traffic to flow faster.
This sort of cooperative driving is common the world over, and is true in Cairo, as Anthony Bourdain discovered on a trip where he communed with Bedouins, felt most comfortable deep in the desert, and empathized with the millions of Egyptians struggling to get by. Things seem to work out one way or another when people cooperate, even when times are tough.