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Monday in Fes

Posted on Apr 11, 2006 by in 2006 Spain Morocco | 1 comment

We get going around 9 am, after a decent hotel breakfast, and the
first nearly 8 hour night of sleep in what feels like months. We head
straight for a walking tour of the medina, which is incredible. The
medina in Fes comprises of something crazy, like 50,000 different
shops. There are shops as small as… one square meter,
which is just ridiculous to think someone has to make their living off
of it!!

We walked among the mazes of hundreds of little streets. Everywhere
you turn you here “Baraka!” or “Attencion!!” and you turn around to see
a donkey, horse or mule fully loaded, guided by his master (sometimes
TWO pack animals and one master), heading down these crazy narrow

At times we have to duck into a doorway or get hit by them.
You not only smell that, but their waste, urine, all sorts of food
products, and pretty much every smell you can imagine would be in a
city that is essentially unchanged since it was founded in about 900

At one point this short man starts following us. I get kind of
sketchy … every time we stop, he stops. We turn a corner, and “Tatoo”
(as I took to calling him) turns the corner. Finally — like 20 minutes
later — I found our that our guide was paying him to watch our backs.
He ends up helping a lot, keeping us all in a group, warning of
impending donkey doom, and probably keeping any petty criminals out of
our group as well.

We end up at lunch, and somehow I decide that having the “Pigeon
Pastilla” is a good idea. Immediately, well before the food arrives, I
start doubting my decision. Turns out it was actually quite good….
except for the fact that I knew it was pigeon, and just thinking about
it made my head spin. (Even now it makes me a little queasy.) But it
was pretty good … really!

We saw a number of historical sites within the medina. It’s cool,
because our guide took us right there, but otherwise there’s almost no
way an outsider would -ever- be able to find this stuff. We saw a
Jewish synagogue — which is quite fascinating, they are VERY tolerant
of Jews here — and the world’s oldest university, among other things.
I think what was most intriguing was the tannery section.

Imagine HUGE vats full of dyes, that people STEP into in order to die
leather. The dyes are made of pigeon poo, camel urine, sulphuric acid,
saffron, camel blood, and a number of other “delicacies.” It reeks
beyond belief, so much so that they give you a sprig of mint to carry
around with you, to sniff as necessary. Check out the pictures … this
was a step back into time several hundred years, and it’s sad and
incredible that people live this life still today.

Oh … and we also had a mint tea ceremony while the world’s best
salesmen tried to sell us Moroccan rugs. Watching the process was
incredible — these guys are genius! — and we did it within a 15th
century riad featuring ornate artwork. It’s just one of those
unrepeatable experiences …
Of course, there was more … cats, the disgusting butcher’s areas —
including a store featuring nice, raw, hanging, fresh cow penis and
testicles — and all the produce stores, with the orange blossoms …
great stuff. But I need to go to bed … see ya!!

1 Comment

  1. Pigeon? You ate a pigeon? It…wasn’t a…homing pigeon, was it? Let’s just hope you didn’t share this blog with the JEDD’s people! 😉

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