Fez, or Fes, aka the red cylindrical hat with tassels. The second largest city in Morocco and the town we were going to attempt our first medina trip through. It is a former capital and considered one of the four imperial cities; Rabat, Marrakesh and Meknes being the other three. It is divided into three distinct parts - the old city, the new city (Mellah) and the Ville Nouvelle or French quarter.
Our arrival in the medina was well-timed, giving us a few hours to dig in just before call to prayer and the closing of the area for the day (Friday). We followed portions of the walking guide we had but inevitably it turned out worthless as there are no signs on the walls and alleys, so saying, "turn 30 feet and you will be at this souq" doesn't really work 2 years down the road from the publish date. So, we opted to just get lost until we found our way into a carpet shop. Now, most people would say, no, no, no. But, we had the intention of buying while we were here and when you have a good feel about a place, then it's the place to be at the moment. We will say, we had some of the best mint tea that we got all over the entire
country throughout the trip and the recipe from the shopkeeper was part of our deal. Although warm, as you can imagine, we plopped ourselves down on a couch of old carpets, Amy took off her shoes to walk around and we talked about what we wanted. No, we aren't Americans with a big home, living in Seattle, blah, blah, blah. We are college students with a small apartment are were looking for a couple 4x6 or 5x8 rugs. We wanted the dying to be saffron, henna, mint and indigo in whatever form. Being in the region we were in, we were in for a treat of oohs and ahhs. Carpet after carpet after carpet were laid in front of us. Flipped over to
check weaving and knots, rubbed to check color and filled with stories of where they came from, we ultimately chose two Berber rugs from the High Atlas mountains. One a stunning Saffron colored number with simple adornments, the other very different in style. Basically, one for each of us of our own choosing.
After we came out from the carpet shop, we shopped around the leather goods, tucked in doorways and alleyways to snoop, and just wandered. Then, suddenly, call to prayer. Doors slammed shut, alley ways opened up, mobs of people appeared from nowhere all heading in the same direction. We were being pulled by the sheer centrifugal force of Muslim bodies in motion with an intent....the mosque.
Sated by enough shopping and first medina experience, we walked out and started up a hill to find an old graveyard and a good overlook of the city. Despite our travels, we still become dismayed over the sheer volume of trash that litters such beautiful cities, it really seems so simple. The graveyard was in total disrepair despite having many newish tombstones, but you could catch glimpses of recent visits where plants had been cleared and watered or the grave wiped down. Beautiful tile pieces littered the place and will soon become part of some decorative feature in our home.
Somewhat weary, heat worn and hungry, we opted for a taxi ride back to the hotel. Rather than get a big meal, we went across the street to the supermall (Costco like) and browsed the aisles for over an hour snagging some nice fresh bread, yummy cheeses, Chicken and Thyme potato chips (so good), sodas, olives and a couple gifts. Score. Back at the hotel, we just talked about the day, planned the next, ate our snack food and got caught up with ourselves. A little laundry put out since we were going to be here a couple days, a relaxed shower and a short nap on Amy's part.
Met back up with the gang to hear about their day over dinner and Amy encountered once again, the guide who said he would be her bilingual camel and would take her on a magic carpet ride. Tacky and humorous all at the same time. Really, do you think those lines work?
After dinner, we continued our pursuit of relaxation in the lobby during a cool thunderstorm while writing postcards, checking in with e-mail and people watching. An invitation for wine by the pool was coveted but passed.
Got to sleep in today until nearly 9 when Nathan's stomach told him we needed to eat breakfast. That is breakfast that was non-existent other than a few pastries on a tray but there was coffee. Oh, and wireless if you stood in a particular 4 foot square spot off the main entrance.