Who doesn’t like shopping for new clothes for a holiday? If you’re anything like me, it is a must! (Apologies to my minimalist friends!). Morocco has a warm climate throughout the year with high summer temperatures reaching into the 50 in the Sahara Desert. It is also a Muslim country and although not overly strict, it is better to dress conservatively, in order to not offend anyone. Planning a trip to this North African country next year and wondering if you’ll survive the summer heat.. Alifa recounts her experience with staying cool during her holiday in Morocco.
As someone’s who wears both Eastern and Western clothes, I was accustomed to both cultures prevalent in Morocco. I would not wear anything short or showing too much skin, purely because it’s my own preference. However, my friends that were also travelling the same time as me, took the complete opposite approach to me. They tended to wear minimal clothing and had a harder time staying cool then I did!
When shopping for my Moroccan holiday, I prioritized linen and cotton clothing as this is known to be breathable and thus more cooling. I bought linen long dresses (which were actually abayas or kaftans), linen and plain cotton trousers and long sleeve shirts. I bought loose fitting clothing that fully covered my arms and legs. Being Muslim and choosing to wear the Islamic attire made my choice of clothes easier. However, maxi dresses are fashionable at the moment as are loose colorful printed l pants and long skirts. If the thought of wearing a long sleeve top suffocates you, then aim for three quarter sleeves.
Loose clothing that covers most of the body helps prevent sunburn. My poor nephews, got so burnt, even though they were regularly lathered in sunscreen and visited during a cooler time of year then me! Draping a big scarf around you is also a helpful way to cover your skin and keep you cool. I highly recommend good quality sunglasses – not as a fashion accessory, but a necessity, especially in the desert. I also think a parasol (sun umbrella) and a big straw hat or a cap are essential.
A few tricks of the trade: insight from Berber nomads
A wise camel rider taught me the best tricks for staying cool in the desert. I thought it was strange that despite spending the day in the scorching sun the nomads would be completely covered with clothing. He told me to walk barefoot on the desert sand. Confused, I shrieked as my bare feet touched the scorching hot sand. He then placed a piece of fabric on the sand and again told me to step out, this time the heat was much more bearable. He then double layered the fabric, this time when I stepped on top, it was completely fine. He smiled and asked if I understood, but I still needed further clarification. He took his hand and said, “if the sun hits my skin first, my skin will feel hot and have no protection, but if it firsts hits the fabric my skin is protected and does not burn’.
The camel rider did a funny demonstration with great comedic actions, asking if he had nothing on what does he have to take off if he gets too hot? He showed that when he gets hot, he can take off clothing layer by one layer. This makes complete sense to me and now it’s honestly something I practise. Even if I don’t wear so many layers in the sun, I don’t think I could! But, I do make sure that I am completely protected from the sun’s harmful rays
Another great tip he shared with me, was that westerners wear their clothes too tight. He demonstrated how when he sweats and his clothes are loose and airy, it makes him cool and allows him to dry. However, when clothes are fitted, they stick to you making movement difficult. He said our laughingly that are tight clothes make us “hot, crazy and bothered everyday!”
In summary I found that loose fitting, long clothes made of natural fibres help protect against the harmful, hot sun and assist in keeping one cool and collected as opposed to angry, red and sore. Light layers regardless of the weather are helpful for regulating the body temperature. So now that you prepped in what to buy it’s time to hit the shops in preparation for your Moroccan adventure. You can also enjoy rummaging through the Moroccan souks in search of a beautiful scarf or traditional dress (djellaba) to add to your desert outfit.