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Published: October 18th 2011
The Medina, Fez
Rob in one of the narrow medina streets
A full day in Fez today, we were again awoken by the call to dawn prayer at 5:00am but we were both off to sleep again with no problem only to be woken again at 7:00 by the cockerels. A nice relaxing day with a leisurely breakfast in the garden of our Riad, before starting on our tour of Fez with a guide, walking through the medina and souks. Within the medina, which is a UNESCO world heritage site there are lots of cooperatives selling various things like carpets and leather goods. Our guide took us to one of these where first we visited the roof for a fantastic view of the medina, looking down into the mosque, before sitting down and being served tea. Once you are relaxed they start getting the carpets out to show you all of the different styles and designs and once you have picked a style you are then shown all of the different designs and sizes this time with cups of the strong Arabic coffee. We did resist as we have been told that the carpets are cheaper in the souk nearer to where they are made. We also visited the world famous tannery
View down into the carpet shop
which is the iconic photographic image of Fez. Although we had been warned about the smell, it wasn’t as bad as most farms we have visited and they give you stalks of mint to squeeze to take away the smell.
We also visited the local pottery where they make everything from egg cups to huge fountains, using a special tile mosaic technique, and of course tagines.
Within the medina there is a mosque and university. The Moroccans refer to this as a medrassa but in reality it is a theological college. Something that our guide was very keen to point out is that this was founded by a woman in the sixth century. Although this is an Islamic country everybody we meet is very keen to tell us about how tolerant Islam is and to separate themselves from some of the Arab states and their more extreme practices which we hear about through the media.
We are sitting on the roof terrace this evening, watching the sun set with the swallows and bats swooping around and listening to the call of the Imans to evening prayer mixed with the bird song. There is a wonderful smell of dinner cooking rising
Weaver making cloth using 'vegetable silk', made from agave leaves
up from the kitchen below: what could be better?
Tomorrow we are moving on over the middle Atlas Mountains into the Sahara. This will be a long day of about six hours travelling to our camp. We are both looking forward to seeing the sun set over the dunes, as this is supposed to be spectacular, and if the stars are as good as we saw in South Africa then it will be fantastic. Of course all of this depends on no cloud cover so fingers crossed.
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