Published: February 4th 2012February 4th 2012
The wailing began at 5.37 am, the calling for prayers, and we are situated right next to the mosque. His singing is grand but ear piercing. It is quiet again at 6am. Would be quite scary if you didn’t know what it was.
Breakfast consisted of pancakes, wheat cakes, yogurt, jam, tea and coffee. We have organised a guide for the day, Ali. He is going to show us around the medina.
The medina is home to 350,000 people, over 9000 alleys and unknown number of souks (shops). You could easily become lost in here and be never found again. The Touts (shopkeepers) are very aggressive, yelling out to you as you pass by. Kathy keeps telling them she will be back tomorrow, their reply “Madam you promise you will be back tomorrow?” and in seeing her again “You promised Madam, you promised!” it is all quite funny, would not want to be thin skinned though. Natarsha is having more adventures though, the stares are endless and the compliments overwhelming, from “Wow! You are beautiful!” to “You have wonderful eyes!” and to me “Monsier you must keep your young beauty safe”. I am going to leave my comments on
the culture to a later time because I don’t want to jump to any rash conclusions.
We pass the butcher’s shops of lamb, beef, chicken, goat and camel. A group of cats watch the proceeding like an audience at an opera. Spices, olives, bread, clothes, silks, leather, rugs, pots, wedding essentials, ceramics and far too many other things to go into.
The medina is made up of many neighbourhoods with each neighbourhood separated by a gate. Each has the five essential ingredients of life: Mosque (heart), fountain (water), Baths (cleansing), Bakers (food), and School (mind).
The tannery was the most interesting (and smelly). It is a co-op and all work is done by hand. The wool is first soaked off the hides with lime and pigeon droppings, than died with natural products in big vats by hand or in this case feet (a very tough job!). Kathy purchased a bag. The overseer of the tannery proudly told us that Catrina Rowntree from Getaway had been his guest and was a lovely lady.
Next stop, the oldest university in the world, began in 870 AD. The woodwork, ceramics, plastering and architecture were exquisite. The marble pillars had
been traded with the Italians for sugar, kilo for kilo, a very good deal for the Moroccan’s.
Visited a silk weaving factory, the silk is harvested from cactus (not silk worms) which is amazing. Our guide wrapped us in scarfs for that great photo opportunity. After passing through many more sections, too many to mention, we finish at the Berber Carpet Souk. Kathy’s jaw drops and she breaks out in a cold sweat – it is time to add something to the travel room and to knock a bit off the kid’s inheritance. The choices are endless, the presentation dramatic and the bargaining ferocious. The carpet is purchased and both parties seem satisfied. Natarsha and I are exhausted just observing. I don’t think the tout has ever had a more formidable adversary.
We say goodbye to our guide and eat an early dinner at the famous Water Clock Restaurant. This structure used to keep time but the secret died with the creator. Swiss, Japanese and German engineers have all tried to unlock the secret but to no avail.
But without a doubt the highlight of the day has been the discovery of some beer in the fridge
on the roof of our hotel. Oh sweet Jesus the elixir of life.
There are more photos below