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Fez Travel Blog

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Ceramics Factory
So about two days before I left for Morocco, naturally, I came down with tonsilitis. So I went to the doctor, got an antibiotic, packed my bags and left Barcelona, praying that Morocco would like me better than Barcelona has recently.

And thank goodness, it did!

We left for Morocco on Saturday morning and arrived in the afternoon. I went with three of my girlfriends here and met up with Omar, the cousin of a family friend who lives in Fez today (thanks, Lynne and Ali!). Omar was our guide for the entire weekend and we were sure glad we had him. He brought his friend, Muhammad, to be our taxi driver the whole weekend too. Our experience would have been very different without them.They gave us Moroccan names, which made us feel like princesses. Shannon is Saida (Happy), Kerry is Fatima (daughter of the prophet Muhmammad), Stefanie is Nejma (Star), and I am Jamila (Beautiful).
BABY SHEEP! A nice little sheep farmer on the side of the road let us hold them...
Cheesy, I know, but the names are definitely going to stick- they added a great deal of the ¨laughter factor¨ to our trip.

So Mohammad took us to a few places to get oriented in the city. First was the ceramics factory, as Fez is known for its pottery. We got a little tour of the works in progress and bought some beautiful ceramic goods. Then Mohammad brought us to a lookout point to see the Medina of Fez. It was really beautiful and unlike anything in the West or what I´ve seen in Europe, for that matter.

When we piled back in the car to go check in to the hostel, we noticed a sheep farmer with his flock on the side of the road, where there happened to be another great view. So Muhammad pulled the car over and we got out to take a look. So we sat and watched the sheep and the sunset and just as we were about to get back in the car, I noticed the sheep farmer coming toward me, carrying something.
The mama sheep was angry...
.. which turned out to be a baby sheep. He brought me a baby sheep! As I am an avid animal lover, it was one of the highlights of the trip (stay tuned, however, for there are more animal adventures to come). It was not quite as exciting for the Momma sheep though, as they ¨bahh-ed¨ angrily while we held their babies.

Finally we left the sheep and went to check into our hotel, the Riad Sara, in the old Medina. I was a little nervous, as it was the cheapest hotel we could find in Fez and it was right in the middle of the Medina, which I was told is a very confusing place. That said, it was lovely! It indeed would have been much more confusing had Omar and Hammy (our nickname for our beloved Muhammad) not been there to guide us. But the Riad Sara was clean, had friendly staff (even though they spoke very little English), and included a lovely breakfast of ¨café au lait,¨ fresh-squeezed orange juice and Moroccan pastries.
I wuvs dem


That night, we went to a late dinner and to bed because the next day we got up early to visit Vollubilis, where there are Roman ruins, and Meknes, another imperial city about an hour away from Fez. We drove with Hammy, feeling carefree and loving the views of the Moroccan countryside. We stopped in Vollubilis for a tour and the continued our journey to Meknes. In Meknes, we walked around and shopped in some pretty authentic markets. A word about the markets: If you are a germaphobe, simply do not go. They are fascinating and often give free samples, but are filled with bees and other insects all over the pastries, uncleaned produce and animal guts. I couldn´t even bring myself to walk near the meat section, as there were flies buzzing around the carcasses, dripping blood on the floor.
Scared of the mama...
(How´s that for some imagery?!)

So I didn´t find any goodies in the market, but I did meet my future husband. His name is Yusef and he is breath-takingly beautiful, although our romance was ruined when he approached me and we found that we couldn´t really communicate. Damn language barriers...

So finally we left Meknes and we back to Fez after a long, eye-opening day. We met Omar and his friend for tea (or as they call it, Moroccan whiskey), back to Omar´s house for more tea, and out to see belly-dancing!

... Or so we thought...

The three things we kept telling Omar that we really, really wanted to do in Morocco were:
1. Get Henna tatoos.
2. Ride donkeys or horses or something of the like.
3. See belly dancing.

Let´s just say Omar fell through on that one.
Shannon herding sheep... her true calling in life
We didn´t really know what to expect (Were we going to dance with the women? Do we sit and watch?, etc.), so we let Omar lead. When we arrived, however, it looked sort of familiar... kind of like clubs I´ve seen in Barcelona... but didn´t think anything of it... Until we got inside, asked where the belly dancers were, and Omar pointed to a group of scantily clad teenagers dancing in a group in a corner, and said, ¨There they are!¨ So... we didn´t exactly get to see belly dancing, but rather teen-aged girls dancing, while baring their bellies.

On Monday, however, our adventures more than made up for our missing out on belly dancing. We left Fez yet again to visit some towns just outside the city. Our stops included Bhalil, where there caves, a Jewish cemetary and a man named Muhammed, who is mentioned in Lonely Planet guidebooks (and he will make sure to tell you that).
Kerry and her baby
He invited us into his home for tea, which was nice, but then just asked for money from us for singing some strange half-arabic, half-english song that included the words ¨Speak a little English, in the car with Muhammad...¨ Strange.

So we left that Muhammad and went to Sefrou, where we saw waterfalls and ate lunch. Omar told us that there was a lion in this town, that it was really famous and we were going to see it! So we walk to the lion, only to find out... it´s made of stone. Cool, Omar. Way to get our hopes up again. Then he told us that we were going to see monkeys, so we thought, ¨Great, are they real, or stuffed animals, or what?¨So we pull up to a little place, where Omar says, ¨Look! Monkeys!¨ And we look over only to find.
"There's a lot of love in this car"
.. monkeys! Real, live monkeys, stealing our peanuts and bags and pulling our pants down!¨We were shocked and excited to play with the unbelievably people-like animals. If you´re ever in that area, GO SEE THE MONKEYS. It was amazing.

On our way back, we still hadn´t accomplished the other two activities on our ¨To do in Morocco¨ list, so we bugged Omar about riding donkeys and getting Henna. Conveniently, about ten minutes into the car ride, we approached a young boy on horse... So went to ride horses! (Okay, so they weren´t donkeys but come on, riding horses in Morocco is still pretty cool.) More hilarity ensued as the boys made the horses jump while we held on for dear life, Omar laughed at us, and Muhammad attempted to get on the horse with Kerry. It was, again, a fun time.
Stef/Nejma, Shan/Saida, me/Jamila and Omar in the New City


So we squished back in the car and headed back to Fez, where we were beginning to lose hope on getting Henna tatoos. Omar said it probably wasn´t going to work out, but Hammy caught on to what we were talking about and (even though he doesn´t speak a word of English), called his sisters to have them set up the Henna ink- we were coming over. YAY! Hammy to the rescue! As we sat in his home with his mother, aunt, brother, and two sisters, I fell in love with the Moroccan sense of hospitality. I got Henna on my hand, arm and leg (don´t worry, it will only last for about two weeks- it´s already starting to fade).

Exhausted and happy, we ate some couscous and ¨Moroccan whiskey¨ at Omar´s house and collapsed into bed. The next day, we were sad to leave, but bid our lovely guides farewell after an absolutely incredible vacation.
Moroccan husband number one: awkward man who gave me a bright pink scrunchie and tried to kiss me on the side of the road

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Ceramics Factory
Ceramics Factory
BABY SHEEP! A nice little sheep fa…
BABY SHEEP! A nice little sheep f…
The mama sheep was angry...
The mama sheep was angry...
I wuvs dem
I wuvs dem
Scared of the mama...
Scared of the mama...
Shannon herding sheep... her true …
Shannon herding sheep... her true…
Kerry and her baby
Kerry and her baby
Theres a lot of love in this car
"There's a lot of love in this car"
Stef/Nejma, Shan/Saida, me/Jamila …
Stef/Nejma, Shan/Saida, me/Jamila…
Moroccan husband number one: awkwa…
Moroccan husband number one: awkw…
Door of the royal palace of Fez
Door of the royal palace of Fez
Bhalil, cave town just outside of …
Bhalil, cave town just outside of…
Ommy and Hammy in a cave home
Ommy and Hammy in a cave home
Omar and Kerry... its love... or …
Omar and Kerry... it's love... or…
Theres a lot of love in this cav…
"There's a lot of love in this ca…
Waterfalls!
Waterfalls!
MONKEYS!!!!!
MONKEYS!!!!!
The monkey tried to pull my pants …
The monkey tried to pull my pants…
Shannons Moroccan husband: the cr…
Shannon's Moroccan husband: the c…
Omar, on the bucking horse...
Omar, on the bucking horse...
Oh, dear.
Oh, dear.
Hammy sniffing my henna tatoo... i…
Hammy sniffing my henna tatoo... …
Kerry and me, covered in henna (an…
Kerry and me, covered in henna (a…
Riad Sara, our hotel
Riad Sara, our hotel
Fez
photo by: Johnpro