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Tamarra’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 16 Aug 2009

Location: Fes, Morocco

MapShortly after our last post Saf received very tragic news and found out that her first cousin had passed away in a tragic car accident in Calgary. She was only 30 years old and her and her family are devastated. The last few days have been extremely challenging but I hope i've been a good distraction and offered good support. The funeral was yesterday.

The following morning we were picked up by our new friends Fadi
( a 26 year old Lebanese Torontonian living in NYC) and Hecham
( a 34 year old Moroccan living in Geneva) at 7am and had our first experience in the Medina. After a quick OJ ( which may have been the root of all evils) we were off to a government coop for rugs. We had no intention of purchasing any rugs but neither of us left empty handed. We then visited the tannery where we learned about the process from start to finish. The Berber ( native Moroccans) work extremely hard soaking, washing, hanging, drying and dying the leather goods. All dyes used are natural ( saffron, poppy, indigo, henna etc...) and we now have a new appreciation for our leather goods. My stomach started to feel a bit queasy so we head back to the our new guest house. Saf sat at the pool all afternoon talking to some Brit boys while I sat on the toilet and slept. Safs good fate was short lived as soon she too fell prey to the sickness. She on the other hand was much worse as it came out of both ends and she spent much of the night running to and from the bathroom.
We are both much better now.

The next morning we had organized a day trip to Meknes, Voulibilis and Moulay Idriss with the Brit Boys. After a quick breakfast and an immodium we were off. Voulubilis is an ancient Roman city that used to house 20, 000 people. The ruins were impressive but hotter than hells kitchen. The rest of the day was non descript. Returned to our guest house and were once again retrieved by Hecham and Fadi. Although Hecham only visits Morocco a few times a year he still has a pretty dope apartment filled with antiques and art worth more than our homes in Toronto. Met a new friend Abdul Rahim who brought over snacks and gave out deluxe massages ( this is his families business in the desert). After eating and a bit of a dance party we plunged head first into the Medina.

The medina is like a an insane labyrinth. It is 15km 2 and has 350, 000 families living on over
9, 000 twisting narrow streets. It is not for the weak hearted or the claustrophobic. The high walls often stretch beyond the eyes and the narrow alleys house stalls, children and donkeys. It is the largest urban area without cars in the world and has been established as a UNESCO world heritage site. After running up and down winding stairs and alleyways we were spent and head home.

Early this morning Abdul Rahim picked us up and took us for a historic walk through the Medina. We stopped at the Kings Palace and took photos of the famous 7 bronze doors each hand-carved. The King is revered in this country and there are pictures of him and his family everywhere. From McDonald's to street corners to houses and shops. He is said to be the King of the people and adored by all. We have taken many pictures of him. He has a palace in every city which is opulently guarded by the army..... serious business. After our Medina exploration we hired a private driver to take us to Sefrou, Ifrane and the cedar forest. We saw Berber families still residing in caves, fed wild monkeys chips and relaxed in the "Switzerland of Morocco" All in all, a great day. Tomorrow we head to the mountainous picturesque Chefchaoen for a little R and R. The adventure continues....
computers in Fes seem to be really slow and we will try to upload pics in Chefchaoen.