Morocco, Part 2

8 Nov

This is Morocco Part 2, the Medina of Fes!!

If you want follow my Morocco trip from the beginning, check out Morocco Part 1! So the second day we wake up exceptionally early, and by that I really only mean at around 9 with the time difference… and we headed to breakfast. Breakfast included the most delicious foods, like boiled eggs, crepe-esque things, and coffee. Most importantly, coffee. After breakfast, we hopped on the busses (ours was named ‘el Torero.’ We grew to exceptionally hate that bus by the end of the trip. I a little bit wanted to punch it in the face on day 6…). We took a tour of the city leading up to the Medina of Fes- the old part of the city.

It was rainy. Super rainy. There were men selling umbrellas. Should have gotten one. And donkeys.

So we made it to the Medina after a quick tour of the city from a great guy who told funny jokes, more on that to come. It was raining that day, off and on, but I got quite wet. I didn’t have a hood on my jacket nor did I have an umbrella, so my scarf pretended it was a head cover all day.

Scarves and other pretty things!

A man weaving cool fabrics!

So we started walking through the maze that is the Medina. We made our way far into the depths of the small crooked alleys, and landed ourselves in a fabric store of sorts. It was a place where they weave fabrics- whether that be for turbans, scarves, curtains, or clothing. There was an incredible assortment, and they had so many tassles! I loved this place, the guy explaining the process and prices was extremely charismatic. Every place we went, there was someone who explained how the shop worked, the history, and then tried to get us to buy things. They were all so great. A few people bought scarves, but I held out… hoping for better prices. We did find fezzes here though, and Sav tried one on!

Me with my mint tea from the rug shop!

Rug man.

After we had looked at so so many scarves, we headed out into the rain and mud again to find our way to a rug shop. This was not the most entertaining for me personally, because I had no intention of dropping over 100 dollars on a rug (though if I had known I could have gotten a small kitchen rug for 25, I might have bought one for our house!). But, they did serve us mint tea, which was absolutely phenomenal. The guy who showed us rugs was really entertaining, and had a great sense of humor.  Then, we were split up into small groups and shown more rugs. The guys were sort of overbearing, and wanted us all to pick rugs we liked, so lots of people did, including Savannah and Amanda (I refrained, I didn’t want to be dragged into this!). Because the salesman knew that Sav and Amanda wanted those rugs, even after we left the small group he followed them. Even one of the directors came up to them and told them that it was a very good price he was offering. By the end of this bartering adventure, Savannah and Amanda had each bought a rug for $130, an amount they brought down from over $200. I was impressed. Alas, in order for them to obtain said rugs, they had to stay behind and catch up with us after they had made their purchases. Here’s a funny little snippet from Rug Man’s speech.

We made it to the jewelry store, waiting on Sav and Amanda, and were getting ready to go into the spice shop (yay!), but for whatever reason we couldn’t go in at that point, so we turned right back around and headed to a restaurant in the middle of the Medina for lunch.

Me at the restaurant!

Lunch in the Medina!

And… we were off! By this time, we had passed a few of the same places so I started recognizing the same streets, vendors, donkeys. (I was proud.) We got to this super great restaurant and sat down with a group of girls from Barcelona. (I think). There were groups of people from all over northern Spain… Including Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca, Valencia… the list goes on. Therefore, it was mildly hard for me to remember names, let alone where everyone was studying. Anywho, The lunch was fantastic. I strayed toward the plain food- I was really afraid that my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle Moroccan dishes.  They brought us out plates and plates of food to split between the table, and I tried almost everything. It was so good! I don’t think I have a picture of the mountain of food that came out after these starters, but let me tell you, there was still some leftover after seconds. And thirds. For dessert, there were so many beautiful delicious oranges- fruit is my favorite. Oranges are my favorite. (Lie, mangos are my favorite, but they’re not quite native to Marruecos…) So oranges were my favorite that week.

The spice shop.

Let me just tell you, all I wanted to do after that meal was nap, but I could not. We were carted off once again through the streets of the Medina, and we ended up at a spice shop. It was hot, and I felt crowded, and I wanted a nap, but once this man started talking, I didn’t even care. He was the most hilarious of all the shop men. He demonstrated all of the different things they offered, including but not limited to:: eye liner, magic lipstick, oils, mint tea, and moroccan mud masks (alliteration win). By the end of this trip my hands were so covered in lipstick and different smelling oils that I felt like my head would explode. However, totally worth it. This was my favorite stop of the day.

The tannery!

After that, we frolicked through the rain (which makes it sound more fun than walking through dirt streets that are wet really is) and found ourselves in the largest tannery in Fes (and possibly in Morocco?). They explained the process of dying the skins, and making them all pretty so that we can have bags. Not a huge fan of this, but hey… I still bought something. Overall a cool experience, and a really neat place to visit.

Clothing and scarves.

After the tannery, we went to another fabric shop. I think the people started getting mad that the group as a whole stopped buying things- like they worked on commission and I think our tour guide had some sort of deal with them, because they kept track of the money everyone spent… But hey. You take us to two fabric stores? We don’t buy as much because we have already bought things. In theory. I bought stuff at the second place- I GOT A FEZ FROM FES!!! Mission: complete. Tennant and Smith would be proud. And yes, I do giggle a little bit every time I see it on my shelf out of happiness. No regrets.

After this last fabric store, we hopped back on El Torero, and got this funny joke from the driver:

Pottery man.

Puzzle games!

Outside the pottery place with the mountains!

We drove a little bit out of the city to find a pottery place. It was so beautiful! We saw a man making pottery- he was gooood. We saw guys painting pottery. Also very good. We saw men putting together a mosaic with small pottery tiles of different colors and shapes (best puzzle ever, and you get paid? sign me up!). We ended up in a store with tons of pottery. I really wanted a tea kettle because they were so intricate and beautiful, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy one at the prices they were offering (they were around 150 dirham, about 15 euro, so like maybe a little over 20 dollars, which is acceptable for the pieces of artwork that they were, but not when you only had 600 dirham to begin with to buy food and drinks and all the things.). They also had tables and fountains for sale that they would ship to your house, which was great, if they weren’t hundreds of thousands of US dollars. Bah. After the pottery place, we walked around outside for a bit and took pictures of the beautiful scenery. There are so many mountains in Morocco, you’d never guess. Or maybe you would. But in my head, before actually going to Morocco, Morocco was this beautiful desert land with nothing green, and definitely no mountains. This is absolutely not the case. The cool part about outside the pottery place was that there were tiles of all shapes and sizes just strewn about on the ground. Yup, I took one. I now have a blue square to remember it by. Way cheaper than a table. Also:: there were adorable children with red heart tiles, that I totally wanted, and one of them gave me one, and then told me to pay him. No sir, I’m not paying you for a tile that I could just as easily find on the ground. (Gave it back. Ugh.) Also, for whatever reason we were instructed not to pay children for anything. I kind of want to know why. (Someone speculated that they stole from the shops and then tried to sell the things to tourists. Hope that’s not true. I’d like to believe that at least the children aren’t corrupted…)

Here is a view into the life of a sculptor!!

Outside the Palace.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped quickly outside a beautiful palace. It had just gotten dark, so the light wasn’t the best, and my camera was on the verge of dying from a long day’s work at the Medina, but we tried to take jumping pictures and cutesy friend pictures outside the palace- a fun stop!

Funny guys with drums. And scissors.

One of the belly dancers.

Finally, after dinner and a bit of relaxation at the hotel, we headed back out to what was described to us as ‘a typical show.’ All we knew is that we paid some dirham and that we were going to a show, really. Turns out, that show was totally awesome. There were cool guys with drums, and one guy played these really old scissor-looking things. There were belly dancers galore, and they all did something unique. Almost all of them dragged people out to dance with them, which got kinda scary when they started pulling out the fire… Also to note: if you have taken even one belly-dancing class before and you don’t want to go up and dance, don’t tell the people at your table. They will rally to send you up to dance (though thankfully to no avail). There were also two people that dressed up and ‘got married’ in pretty outfits. Also, most importantly, there was more mint tea. That’s my favorite thing.

After that we basically went back to the hotel and crashed. It was a long exhausting day, but it was so much fun!

Stay tuned for our trip into the Sahara Desert! I’ll try to get it up soon!

Next up, Morocco, Part 3!

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