Anonymous lost – Fez

27th April 2008

I’ve arrived in Fez Morocco, the oldest inhabited walled medieval city in the Arab world, and it’s quite a different sort of place. I managed to get to Frankfurt Hahn Airport two hours before I needed to and just hung around for ages. I checked into my flight and was frisked by a woman who I dubbed the shoe butch, who demanded I take my shoes off after I had gone through security.

I boarded the plane and had a pretty uneventful flight, I flew over the Alps for the 8th time in my life and there was this bratty kid who grizzled from check in until we got through customs, thank God for Mp3 players. I got outside the airport and expected to be attacked by taxi drivers and to my surprise I wasn’t. I managed to find an atm and got the bus into Fez Nouville. I was then immediately attacked by a faux guide who put me in a cab and took me to my riad which is in the heart of the medina. He then charged me 50 dirhams for the privilege. I didn’t care too much I was tired, and no cars are allowed in the medina, so finding it on my own would probably have been a nightmare.

My hotel is a real riad and although they have put me in the most expensive room it is well worth it as the room is an experience all of its own. I went out and got myself a litre of Coke and as it was quite late gone to bed.

I woke up the next day and showered and dressed, I was dreading the place would have no hot water, but it did thank God. I then set off to do some exploring, and immediately got lost in the medina, which was actually quite fun, Who could ever find me here? I thought to myself. I went and had lunch in a medina restaurant and ate chicken cous cous which was very nice. I was a little shaky about eating the chicken as I had been past the chicken shop, which had live chickens on one side and meat on the other. I managed though.

The gruesome camel butcher - Fez
The gruesome camel butcher
The famous Fez tannery
The famous Fez tannery
My amazing chicken cous cous in Fez
My amazing chicken cous cous

There is meat hanging everywhere in the souk behind where my riad is, including one shop specialising in camel with the bloody head hanging from the shop sign, quite gruesome. After lunch, I was picked up by young, man named Mohammed whose father owns part of the famous tannery, and he took me to the roof of his family’s house to view it. I had been told of the sickening smell many times and prepared myself for the worst, I was actually given a sprig of mint to smell.

It actually wasn’t that bad considering the smell is a mixture of rotting cow flesh, pigeon poop, which they use to scrub the hides and the cow piss and chemicals they use to dye it. Yep, not bad at all and very interesting. Mohammed didn’t even charge me for his little tour, so I was very impressed.

No sooner was I out of the tannery than I was picked up by a young girl named Fatima and taken to the top of her family’s house to view the whole of Fez, which was truly an amazing sight to behold. I tipped her 20 dm and told her it was nice to be hassled by a lady for a change, she was most happy and introduced me to her brother Driss, who spoke no English and pointed me in the direction of Talaa Kebira, Big Hill Street, where my riad is close to. On the way back I stopped to buy presents for Mum and Jessi, which was very enjoyable as I was free to stand and look for ages and not be hassled, truly amazing.

I went back to the hotel for a quick cat nap, it had reached the point of the day here where it is stiflingly hot, and my riad is very cool inside. I got up around 5pm and went off to find dinner. Sitting in the medina at night was as atmospheric as it gets, I think, although I’m sorry to say, I wouldn’t have given the lamb chops they fed me to my dog Dali. I had a quick walk around the medina, and some old guy muttered something in husky Berber in my face, which reminded me of the “No Kabkalosh” guy in The Simpsons, the thought of which almost sent me into giggles.

Tiled fountain in the courtyard of my riad in Fez
Tiled fountain in the courtyard of my riad in Fez
Doing my laundry in the shower at my Riad in Fez
Doing my laundry in the shower at my riad

I had a quick walk around before realising the hassle factor, which is basically zero during the day, is off the charts if you’re a woman alone at night. It’s quite a pity as the medina is quite beautiful at night. On the whole though loving Fez.

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