Chefchaouen minute, Fes the next

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Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes
December 14th 2017
Published: December 21st 2017
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Breakfast happens on the terraceBreakfast happens on the terraceBreakfast happens on the terrace

Four different kinds of bready things, because bread.
At breakfast we meet a couple of nice young men from Minnesota. They are on sort of a reverse course to ours and have been to many of the places we are hoping to visit, with the distinct exception of Minnesota. Fes is next up for us and they had a great time there. One of them likes to spin his own wool (no, that is not a euphemism for ram masturbation) so the high point of their trip was visiting a nomadic tribe that spins and looms and makes highly intricate rugs.

Today we have little to do beyond securing our passage by bus to Fes. This will require that we trek down the hill to the bus station to procure tickets, then come back to get our luggage and leave a while later. This also means a few petit taxis, but at a buck (10 dirhams) a ride, it’s all good. Better still, it’s market day and the thin roads of Blueville are bustling with trade of every kind. The selection is heavily weighted on foodstuffs, but there is anything else as well. Getting through the streets is tight and the final funneling through the medina gate is modeled closely after toothpaste dispensation, but we survive and pop out like a stripper erupting from a giant cake; relieved and pantless.

We are now wily travelers, so when anyone tries to jack up a price, we’re all, “Nuh-uh!” The trip to the bus station and back is uneventful, the walk back through town is chaotically ancient and cool and the packing up ain’t no thing. We turn it around at a leisurely pace, market-surf our way back out the gates, this time with our luggage adding a clumsy guest to the fire marshall-baiting party. Petit taxi, bus station, bus. It will be about 4 ½ hours to Fes. Somehow these “long” trips have not been a problem for us. We stay occupied and no one smells.

The lunch stop along the way presents us with the most minimalist dining experience one could imagine – actually, for us, maybe equal to the most. Once, while driving through the all-but-desolate Italian countryside, Steve’s hypoglycemia alarm went off and the only thing around for miles was a gas station. On the counter in the station was an entire medium-sized cooked pig. The gas station attendant, apparently dedicated to distributing gasses of any combustible nature, stood beside the smiling remains of ‘other white meat’ with knife in hand and a competitively large block of bread. The sole choice on the menu was a combination of an indelicately torn chunk of each. Here in Morocco, the choice was almost as limited; goat carcasses were hung like curtains in front of the counter where two butchers stood ready to weigh and grill little chunks. Again, the meal was upgraded to gourmet, by bread.

When we’re let off in Fes we hit or first minor travel frustration. We have a sim card, so we call the riad and they will have someone meet us at the entrance to the medina. But then we are cut off and we don’t feel like we have our information straight. We are also told to pay half of what the taxi drivers are demanding. But we decide it’s only a two dollar difference and we find a driver who’s game. He gets the riad on the phone and gets us to the medina gate where, somehow, the man from the hotel knows it’s us pulling up! He loads our bags into a wheelbarrow thing and we disappear into the dark shadows of the medina.

Unlike the Chefchaouen medina, the Fes medina is not cute. The people aren’t smiling back readily and walls would only be described as “blue” in a sad context. It’s a little eerie. The walk is about fifteen minutes and it feels like a maze from a Hellraiser film. When the door to our riad (actually a Dar not a riad, more on that later) opens, it reveals kind of a palace within. We are greeted by Said (the repeated use of names here makes for light memory work) , who seems only to know the word yes. Together with a pair of socially retarded, if fashionable, young American women, we are given a tour of the place. It’s a maze of small courtyards, confusing staircases and world-class plaster work. We find it more appealing than Alhambra in many ways. When the tour is done we are shown to our room which is so large, the bathroom is actually atop a fairly significant flight of stairs! Because of it’s towering height, heating it will be all but impossible, so, for the sake of comfortable sleep and to prevent falling down the stairs and dying after a midnight pee, we ask to be moved. The replacement would also be subdivided in condos in Manhattan, but we have our own small courtyard, a bathroom one could somnambulize to and from nocturnally without leaving beta-sleep and, at our request, an additional heater.

Since we’re thrashed from travel and the passageways of the Fes medina look like hell (not left in disrepair; the place where sinners go) we decide to dine at the Dar. We have some delicious soup and chicken couscous with seven vegetables. The meaning of, “With seven vegetables,” while not literally applied here, kind of means what’s left. Local people do their marketing at the beginning of the week and after cooking this and that, find that they have leftover bits of various ingredients at the end of the week. Those “seven vegetables” are cooked into a couscous.

Back in our big, warm room we plan for tomorrow with little detail. “Yes,” we agree optimistically, “There will be a tomorrow.”

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


ENG crewENG crew
ENG crew

Some local merchant was getting interviewed and the local kids were having fun.
Choose meatChoose meat
Choose meat

and the number of ounces and pay up.
Then walk over to the kitchen...Then walk over to the kitchen...
Then walk over to the kitchen...

where they'll spice and cook it for you for $2.

22nd December 2017

Food compromises
I must say Julie looks less than thrilled with the lamb on offer. You two are meeting the food challenges with grace. Are you digestive systems cooperating? Architecture is unsurprisingly stunning. Thx for sharing your adventures...xoxo
26th December 2017

It's all good
The lamb was pretty tasty but not much to share. Our systems are good. No issues at all really. Even the overabundance of bread hasn't been an issue for Julie.
28th December 2017

How was the vibe?
From these photos and your descriptions I can imagine being there. What’s the vibe like? It’s ironic that you’re confronted with a dead animal as a lunch option. You can really get a reality of That crazy food chain thing.

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