Day 12: Ahhhh.... Fes
Fez Travel Blog› entry 21 of 25 › view all entries
Old Fes is described as "one of the most complete medieval cities left in the world today and the spiritual heartbeat of Morocco". About 300,000 people still live in the medinas of Fes el Bali and Fes el Jdid.
This morning we went on a guided tour with Mustafa which included a ceramic pottery factory, the famous leather dye pits, the historical Kalrouan Mosque medersa, and of course some of the best shopping spots in the medina. As you will see, I was not able to take many pictures while in Fes. When I looked at my camera that morning, I saw to my horror that my second battery was starting to die out.... noooooooo..... so I had to conserve. I had my charger with me, but, silly me, in my rush, I forgot to pack my converter. My converter was sitting at my bed at home.
First stop was the ceramic pottery factory. We were taken on a guided tour by one of the gentleman who works in the factory and shown each step that goes into making all their beautiful pottery. From the master at the pottery wheel to the gentleman cutting each mosaic piece by hand to the gentleman putting the finishing glazes and the firing of the pieces in the Kilns. I have not one artistic bone in my body, yep sorry to say, no artistic ability at all, so to me watching them work was just amazing. The way the master molded the lump of clay on the pottery wheel to make it into something beautiful, ah magic! After the tour, our guide then took us to the shop. They had so many beautiful pieces it was hard to decide on what to purchase.
While there, an older gentleman walked in, (I later found out from Mustafa, he was one of the owners), dressed in traditional dress wearing a traditional fes hat atop his head. He came straight towards me and started to speak to me in a Berber dialect. I just looked at him and smiled and then looked at Mustafa for guidance. The gentleman told Mustafa that he thought I was a Berber, that I looked like one.
Afterwards, we then went on a guided tour with Mustafa at the Medina. The Medina is an unbelievable labyrinth of 9,500 lanes and alleys. You need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs like Hansel & Gretel so as to not get lost here. Mustafa was totally in his element while giving us this walking tour, sharing the history, culture and pointing out the sights, of the medina. This is what he loves to do, he looked so happy that day. I know some of the girls griped a bit earlier that morning when they heard the tour would last a few hours. I enjoyed it immensely. I love learning and having someone sharing with me the history of their homeland, culture and people.
We then moved on to the famous leather-dye pits. As we went upstairs through the shop to the very top floor, we were given mint leaves to place under our noses since the smell of the dye pits could be a bit much. It wasn't too bad though. They had some beautiful leather goods in that shop. The leather on some of the pieces was sooooo unbelievably soft, like butter. After our tour, the rest of the day and night were ours to do with what we wanted at our own leisure. Bronwyn, Rebecca, Jade, Bel, Mel and I decided to stay in the old medina for lunch and some shopping afterwards.
After lunch, we decided to go through the medina to shop some more, of course. I bought some beautiful silver earrings and scarves. As we were going through the medina, a young man stopped us and offered to be our guide through the medina.
Since we really could not move, we decided to stay and watch and enjoy the festivities. While we were standing there, I noticed, no felt, that someone was intensely staring in my direction. When I looked, there was a guy across the alleyway just staring at me with a very, very serious, intense, expression on his face.
After a bit, the parade finally ended and it started to pour. The water was just gushing down the alley, so we decided it was time to get out of there, get away from him, go find a couple of taxis and get back to our hotel pronto. As we were walking, Bronwyn and Becc looked back and noticed he was following us, still with that same expression on his face. I just kept thinking to myself, okay, what the hell, who is this guy and what does he want.
So there we were hiding behind the wall. While Bronwyn was peeking out of the entrance to our right, Becc looked over to the entrance by our left, and there he was coming towards us. Well, out of nowhere, Becc let out a yell, which then made the other girls scream and start to run. She scared the hell out of me when she yelled, but then I started to laugh hysterically as I ran after the girls across the plaza. I'm telling you it was like something out of a comedy. We finally stopped as we approached the outside entrance to the medina and all started laughing hysterically. When we looked, he was gone, finally, gone.
Finally, we got some taxis to take us back to our hotel. When we got there, we ran into Mustafa and Achraf in the lobby of our hotel and proceeded to tell them what happened to us. They could not believe it. Mel and Becc showed them the pictures they took of the guy. We then told the others what had happened, and they couldn't believe it. Ah yes, I must have that face with a big stamp across my forehead with the words "welcome psychos, yes, come, come bother me". After a nice warm shower, Bronwyn and I decided to head down to the bar in the lobby to have some drinks after our little adventure. A few of us then met Mustafa and Achraf in the lobby and went out to dinner. After dinner, I stayed and had some more drinks with Mustafa and Achraf at the bar. We drank some beers and wine and talked on and on for a few hours. It was a great way to end my evening in Fes.