Sweet taste of Morocco – Fes part 1

Polish

Fes

The flight Pisa – Fes was very pleasant and without any issues.
When I got out from the plane I was hit with the hot wave. My skin was burning – I felt the results of sunbathing in Italy. At the airport I filled out the declaration that I entered the country. The custom officer stamped my passport and the formalities were completed. I had ordered the driver who picked me up from the terminal. The price was 15 euro and the time about 40 minutes.

I asked the taxi driver for the assistance how to get to my hostel. I have heard about the situations when the tourists have been leaving at completely different places far away from the destination point. I got to the Funky Fes hostel. The price for a bed is 95 dirham in the room of 20 people. For the first time in my life I was in a place of this kind –oriental and I really liked the embellishments.

Funky Fes

On the ground floor there is a reception, dining room and the area where you can have a rest (few sofas, tables). The first and the second floors are multi rooms with the bathrooms. On the third floor there is a kitchen for the quests, a few smaller rooms and the patio with a lot of places for sitting. It was a very nice place for the evening rest.

When I went out to see the city for the first time very quickly I have lost my good mood. One young guy turned up. He was offering his guide service, marijuana, hashish and everything what I would want. I explained that I do not need any help and anything from him that I do not smoke, that I do not have as much money to pay him for his guidance. He started swearing at me:P (now when some time passed by I find this situation as very funny). Later we have been passing by each other for a few times, sharing smiles like nothing had happened before.

Medina

Fes has one of the oldest medinas. It consists of hundreds of streets, nooks and market stands. It was this kind of places where you can easily get lost. In comparison with this place Thamel in Nepal may not be even called as complex. After a few corners I have lost my way. It was hot but luckily for me most of the streets were shadowed. The buildings were tall and very close to each other. In addition there were some let’s say constructions made of wood or from the material that were protecting from the Sun. It was very good solution when the temperature is very high.
My first impression was slightly bad (I am not even including my precious adventure). I was solicited many times to buy something and I was even fooled once. Luckily I was able to learn the tricks of local people.

On the rooftop

One of the shop assistants offered me taking pictures from the roof top. Of course I was concerned a bit but I decided to go with him anyway. I was trying to refuse for a few times but he was so pushy and he convinced me. He told me that this excursion will be for free. My first thought was that he will be trying to sell something to me. We went through the carpet shop, then some kind of the backyard, we stepped on a very narrow stairs, and I did not have any idea where I was at that time. I was a bit scared to be honest. When I finally saw the light my black thoughts disappeared. I was on the roof and it was nice. The view was pretty. I did some pictures and everything lasted for about 15 minutes. On our way back my ‘tour guide’ started talking about his payment.

I was not as angry as at the beginning I expected that he will be trying to sell something to me (he did it later 😀 ). I was offered the free guide tour and later I was asked to pay for it. I am not a niggard but if someone is assuring you for a few times that something will be for free than you expected it to be truth.

There is nothing for free in Morocco. For the local people if you are a tourist that means you have money (but in fact it does not need to be truth). In their understanding you can afford anything. I paid 20 dirham, it was not a lot but the fact is he made me a fool.

How can I get to the hostel?

After a few hours of walking, tired but in a better mood I decided to come back to the hostel. There was one problem. I totally forgot where it was: P I met two female tourists and I asked them if they know the way. Unfortunately they had not any idea. Luckily for me they were together with the guide who advised me where I should go. Using his advices and trying to avoid intrusive people I got to the one of the gates from where I was sure how to get to my hostel.

In the evening I decided to rest. I was not drinking any alcohol as it was very hard to get it and I was not really looking for it. Secondly it is very expensive. I had very good substitute for this hot evening. Full-grown, warm and sweet fruits. Very tasty, healthy and cheap. Sometimes I think about the gigantic watermelon that could not be eaten by 10 people.

The walk around medina

The breakfast was included at the hostel’s price. The egg (fried, staffed or poached eggs), tosts, vegetables, coffee/tea (mint, very sweet). Maybe for some it would not be enough but for me it was satisfying.

We went out 10 p.m. We were in a group of 12 people. Our tour guide was explaining some facts about Muslim’s religion and the local people on our way to Medina.

There are some facts that I was able to remember:

  • It was important for just married couples to have a child during the first year of their marriage.
  • The widows should be dressed in white clothes.
  • The women at burqas mainly come from the Muslim’s countries. The indigenous Moroccan woman can decide what suit she will be wearing.
  • There are even some people who never entered Medina.
  • Two door-knockers are located at the main door. They are usually at the different levels. They sound in a unique way each. When the husband go back home he knocked using one of them. This is how he gives the signal to his wife how she should be dressed. It may prevent the situation when the husband is not alone and the wife should wear the proper and respectable suit. Apparently during the heat women wear breathable clothes or walk naked.
  • One gossip says that even some of the citizens of Fes are lost in the city.

The sightseeing included:

  • The walk on the streets between the mosques
  • The Nejjarine fountain.
  • The carpets’ manufacture and shop.
  • The scarfs’ manufacture and shop.
  • The manufacture of the leather materials with the view to the dyery.
  • The manufacture and shop of herbs and essential oils.

In my understanding most of these places were focused on selling things in a bigger amounts but I advise to visit them anyway. You can discover more things than you would see on your own. For example the Nejjarine Fountain.

Tannery

The penetrating smell of the guano and urine at the dyrery was awful. All of us have been given a piece of mint at the entrance to kill that smell but it was not enough. Honestly, I am not sure what possibly would be able to kill this kind of smell. I hope that will not alienate you to go there. The shops with the carpets, scarfs or herbs may be impressive.

Planning mistake

My trip was going to its’ end the same as my time here.

When I was going to Morocco I wanted to spend 1,5 day in Fes, later I was planning to go in the night bus to Marrakesh and spend the rest of the day on sightseeing. I was going to sleep there in a hostel and went directly to the airport. I made big logistics mistake. Spending 3 days in the big cities was not enough, especially when you need to spend 8/9 hours to travel from one city to another. I could plan my trip more carefully and plan my flights in different way. I was forced to go back to Marrakesh on the next evening.

Plans as it happens may change. After the whole day of sightseeing I was not in a mood to go there at night. I would have saved few hours but I would have any energy to see the city. When I was eating the watermelon I met the Irish guy Esra. We decided to go to Marrakesh together by train in the morning and share the costs of the morning taxi.