Monday, March 5, 2012


So. after Volubilis we drove to Fez, armed only with an essentially useless map to find our car rental return place.  That was worrying, especially as we got near/into that crazy city.  However, not to worry- everyone in Morocco wants to help you!  When we were stopped at a light, someone on a scooter leaned over and asked what we were looking for, and we told him the AVIS car place, and he said follow me.  So, we did- after asking for how much.  He said he was from the Tourist Bureau and there is no charge (we were suspicious).  And, he led us right there.  Then he offered to help us find our riad, but the car place was closed for lunch (although in the info I had, it wasn’t supposed to be) so we decided to just stay right there and wait the 20 minutes or so. 

Finally, the AVIS guy came back, and we turned in the car, and then we got a taxi and went to the gates of Fez, and then we started trying to follow our map through the maze of alleys to our riad, some guy was trying to ask if he could lead us, we tried to tell him no, he insisted we were going the wrong way and to tell him the name of our riad, we finally told him, he said it was down this other street, and took us there.  We gave him some money and said thank you very much.

By that time we were late for meeting our guide because we were supposed to meet him at 2:00 which was when the AVIS place opened again, so the host of our riad gave us some mint tea and called our tour guide to come back.  This is our riad.  Whoa busy.

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See, here’s the mint tea.  Mint tea is ubiquitous in Morocco.  Everyone wants to give you some.  It is jokingly called Moroccan whiskey.  (Alcohol is illegal in Morocco, although you can still get it.)

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Anyway, then our guide came and we started off for our short and intense tour of Fez, this ancient city that is a complete MESS of tiny alleys and teeny weeny streets that can hardly be called streets, and lots of shops and no cars are allowed and it is just CRAZY and you feel like you stepped back in time.

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This place used to be a place where the caravanners from the desert would come with their goods and stay.  A caravan hotel.



Lots of ritzy stuff for weddings- gowns and jewelry and belts and little cushion-holder thingees to carry the bride around on and whatnot.IMGP0311 IMGP0312


This is a university (except not any more.  So I guess it WAS a university).  All you have to do to get in is pretty much memorize the whole Koran.  Then you can come and study whatever you want and your food, lodging, and education is free.

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So crowded!!

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And the famous Fez tanneries- where they tan and dye leather for all sorts of things.  Supposedly this place can absolutely reek since some of the ingredients in their tanning process are urine and pigeon droppings, but we came apparently at the right time because it was cold and we couldn’t really smell anything.  He said that in the summer you can smell it from far far away.

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We were actually inside this leatherman’s shop to see the tannery, and he explained a bit about it, then sucked our money from us.



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So this guy was really friendly and for some reason we mentioned that we had five kids and he was astounded and said he couldn’t believe it and that I looked so good and he told Brett that he has a gift!  And that I am a 50,000 camel woman!  Can you blame us for paying him too much?  ;)


Then we went inside this weaving shop of fine blankets and bags and scarves and the like. 

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This is the silk they use- it is cactus silk, not worm silk.



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They told us a lot of stuff, and showed us a lot of blankets (as well as took a picture of us in scarves), but we didn’t make a purchase.  He was very gracious about it though, and said, “You come to learn,” which was surprisingly nice for a Moroccan shopkeeper.


Then we went to this ENORMOUS carpet shop.  According to the guy there, the prices (and therefore the wages for the carpet-makers) is government-standardized.  He assured us we would not find better prices anywhere.  He also gave us mint tea, while they LITERALLY rolled out carpets for us.

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We walked upstairs to see some girls making a carpet.


And this picture makes me feel a little bad, because she was teaching me how to tie the knots, and then when the shop guy walked away for a second, she whispered, “shhhh, money?”  But I had no change to give her.  Then she didn’t let me tie any more knots.

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That guy tried and tried to get us to fall in love with a rug and buy one.  We said we weren’t interested, and he told us that many people come that aren’t interested, and then see one that speaks to them, and leave with it.  After continually assuring him that we really didn’t want a rug, he said, “But if one speaks to you?”  and I said, “Then I’ll take a picture of it.”  And everyone laughed.

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This is Brett talking with our guide.  He was a very devout dude.  He told us a lot about mosques and pointing our how many there are in Fez, and how important it is to go pray and how you should go to pray at a mosque that is far away from your home, because the more effort you put into going there, the more you’ll be blessed, etc.  That was an interesting thing—hearing the call to prayer five times a day wherever you are.  We would wake up at 5:30 in the morning with the chanting/singing.  I took a little video of it, so I guess I’ll have to post it some time.

He also told us that he had guided other people before who were from Utah- and they were Mormons.  We told him that we are too, and he said, “Oh, I really like Mormons.  They are so much like Muslims.  They don’t drink, they have a prophet, they have many wives.”  We had to tell him that that last one is not actually the case.



Dates and figs and nuts.


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Our dinners were a strike that night.  I got a chicken tagine and it was realllly salty and realllllly tough. 


Brett’s was a prune beef tagine but his wasn’t great either.  Too bad.IMGP0455

We left early the next morning.  This is the gate leading into the medina (city).


This is the train station where we went and got on a train to Marrakech which was a 7-hour ride.  I honestly thought it felt like 2 hours.  So strange.  Brett and I just read the whole time (I finished the book my dad gave me earlier, so I begged Brett to switch books with me so I started reading David Copperfield and he read mine.  What a nice guy.)  Then after we got off the train we got right onto a bus from Marrakech to Essaouria, which was another 3 hours.


The end.


Kris said...

How cool! What an awesome trip! I haven't checked blogs for a while, so I need to catch up here and there.

Kami said...

Dude, I'd say about 15-16 rugs spoke to me from your pictures. That guy would have had an easy sell had I been there. Same with the silk guy. And the all those metal trays and lights and stuff.

I loved these pictures the most so far. I think because you had more people and it's so very Moroccan with the little streets and things. I LOVED the university. It was gorgeous.


Missy said...

Gorgeous! I would have been so tempted to cash in our savings at the tannery store. So cool.

Alyse and Carlos said...

Amazing pictures! What an adventure! And you're worth at least 100,000 camels.

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