A Travellerspoint blog

Fez

The Medina, drugged chickens and decapitated lambs - and hurrah for Morocco anyway

sunny 77 °F

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A medina is a walled neighborhood, and is far different from a gated community. The medina in Fez is enormous and filled with 9000 tiny lanes and alleys. Even a Smart car couldn’t fit in them, so all transport is by tiny donkey or wheelbarrows pushed by old men or tiny motorbikes WALKED by young men. We squish up against the walls as Moroccans hurry by; Moroccan merchants grin at us with sheer delight – they haven’t seen any tourists since Covid began. The winding alleys are dark and punctuated by simple small doors. Once inside the doors, the buildings open up into magnificent courtyards. Walls and floors are decorated with tiles and mosaics and tadelakt, a kind of plaster that is intricately formed into beautiful and magnificent designs. Back in the lanes, chickens doze on the street, calmed before they are strangled; sheep heads lie in the sun awaiting some chef to purchase them, various types of tripe are arrayed alongside them.

We wandered (actually were led) to a carpet dealer who, like all carpet dealers, served us tea and tried to sell us rugs. We visited a school of the oldest continuously operating university in the world, founded in the 700’s by Fatima, a woman! Next we were given mint sprigs to hold while we climbed 500 steps (well maybe not quite) to overlook the tannery where hides are prepared and dyed; the mint was to disguise the smell of the processes - and we needed it. Then off to a tile manufacturer whose artisans clipped small shapes from tiles to use in designs, and a potter where we acquired some wonderful vases .

After another tagine lunch we went to the Jewish quarter and its synagogues. Morocco prides itself on its diversity and full acceptance of all who live here. The country is distinctly different from other Muslim countries who are not quite so tolerant. Morocco’s broad acceptance goes back at least to the 15th century when Jews migrated here freely from Spain, where Ferdinand and Isabella expelled them during the Inquisition. The Jewish quarter in Fez was established right next to the royal palace to indicate that Jews had the protection of the King.

We love Morocco. The median strips on the highways are beautifully planted; street lights and highway lights are stunning, their artistry varies from place to place; the people are friendly and well educated and filled with humor. Last night we had dinner with a professor of English whose subject is Moroccan feminism. She is very optimistic about the recognition of women’s rights and the equal status of women in today’s community here. Tonight we ate on a rooftop next to a table of six young men celebrating one of their birthdays. Then sent us some of the cake to enjoy; we serenaded them with Happy Birthday.

Posted by HopeEakins 21:57 Archived in Morocco

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Sounds amazing

by Seabury

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