Monthly Archives: January 2016

Hustle-Bustle of Fes

After some of the roads we’ve been on, the A2 from Meknes to Fes is a real treat and worth the 21Dh toll. The Campsite was at n33.39870 w5.01834 and was a bit of a mixture of Hotel, Bungalows & water theme park accommodation. Nice enough & very spacious. Fes had been creeping up on us, we had read of it’s seedy, smelly backstreet reputation, so many little back streets of the medina, some claim more than 9000! We certainly didn’t want to get lost in there, so were thinking of paying for a guide, we checked at reception, it would cost 400Dh for up to 4 people for a 6 hour guide. As it happened, a French van pulled up next to us about an hour after we did, so I asked them if they wanted to split the guide bill for the following day, all arranged, the taxi would be an extra 200Dh each way and go from the hotel at 09:00.

You want a Fes?

You want a Fes?

That afternoon, we loaded the washing machine (seems to be the only working washing machine in Morocco) with a load (40Dh) & got on with a few chores. Checking the washing later to find out the drain-a-way would not cope with the water, the pump had packed in & our clothes were sitting in 5″ of water, a quick run up the hill and a chap was sent to bag it up and get it spun. Two hours later, the clouds were building & we were beginning to wonder where he’d gone with the washing as we would need to get it dry today and there was no public dryer on site.
Chap on reception told me to go to bungalow 130 to collect it, I knocked on the door, “one minuet mer-sure”, I could see him fumbling about in the back with our washing, when he eventually¬†appeared, he handed me a plastic carrier bag with all our washing, folded and very nearly dry! If only I’d have had a little more patience, it would have been completely dry. Angie hung a few garments up in the van with the electric warm air heater & it was dry soon enough, but it was starting to rain outside, we hoped the rain would pass for tomorrow.
The trip into Fes took about 30 mins with a few stops along the way to see the city from different angles. It looked compact, squashed up & busy, even from a distance. We were eventually dropped off in what seemed like a fairly central area and our guide lead the way, calling into a pottery, a carpet weaving and cloth manufacturer, the main Mosque and ‘The Tannery’ sales outlet, which we never would have found by ourselves. We wove our way through dozens of little back streets, stalls & shops selling, almost everything you could think of, from wedding dresses to honey covered pastry. All the time, our guide explaining the things around us.

Foot driven sharpening stone

Foot driven sharpening stone

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I must have the only picture of the Tannery without any colour. UNESCO donated a grant to'clean it up' a bit.

I must have the only picture of the Tannery without any colour. UNESCO donated a grant to ‘clean it up’ a bit.

Colour!

Colour! All shoes!

At times there was rubbish and dead fruit on the floor, beggars, donkeys pushing a route through, people carrying huge trays of goods trying to get them to the shop.  It was
all so very busy, the smells too all mixed in, some good (cooking usually), some bad (the drains normally), it was certainly an experience. Time for lunch & Abdul knew of the perfect place to eat, we thought he might.;-) As it happened the meal was superb, Moroccan salad starters (like Tapas), and a Vegi Tagine went down a treat.

Marie-Claude & Christian, our companians for the day.

Marie-Claude & Christian, our companions for the day.

The tour all but over, it was time to find our way out of this intricate web of streets. As Abdul wove his way through the narrow streets, we notice nearly everyone he passed spoke a few words with him, he seemed to know everyone here, but then, if you grew up here, then did a tour here nearly every day…you would.
There is hardship here, you can see it in every eye-full, but there’s also skilled trades-men and skilled women too. We saw carpentry, coppersmiths, jewelers knife sharpening, cobbling and even while-u-wait clothes repair with an old Singer sewing machine mounted to a piece of wood screwed to the front door.
The experience was unforgettable, the our guide Abdul, essential, entertaining & informative, the taxi back …all too soon. We just hope Marrakech is as good.

Have a good week end, Wayne X