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Published: January 16th 2014
Today we explore Fes. There is an old section from the 9th century and a "new" Fes from the 14th century. The new, new town is on the outskirts. We visited the palace from the 14th century, still used by members of the Royal family so we could only see the outside. There are 7 huge gates because 7 is a lucky number in Islam.
However, the highlight of the day was spending about 3.5 hours walking through the 9th century medina or marketplace. Fes is known for this medina. It was crazy! Narrow alleys, 9400 to be exact, that wound through the place like a maze. If you didn't know where you were going, you might as well just sit down and hope some nice person comes along. There is a meat section, vegetable section, fruit section, olives, copper and brass, dying fabric, bridal seats and bridal wear section. There is also a section known as the Jewish section with all the gold jewelry stores. And these sections are covering a very wide area up and down all these alley ways. When pack mules came by you had to press against the wall to let it through. People work
on the street level and live on the top level and the doors to these homes were incredibly cool. Designed in the 9th century, and most original work, they were ornately jammed in. I got so busy admiring the design I almost got lost, but I finally saw the top of the head of a guy in our group.
It really was fascinating to see the commerce, the men relaxing in a little cafe, kids trying to play soccer in the alley. People live and die there. I was I could have gone through slower but our guide was on a mission to show us the 400 year old Koran school where it's all free and you can stay as long as you like before taking the final exam, reciting the Koran word for word.
We also went to a mosaic place to see how everything is made by hand starting with soaking the rocks to get the clay, to cutting the small pieces by hand and them placing them in a design. There are about 6 different stations and it takes about 8 years to master one of them. These people are very talented to keep the
old manual ways of doing things masterfully.
We went to a maker of bronze items with sliver thread. That, too, was incredible to see them pound the silver into the bronze and fashion the designs.
Finally we went to a tannery. It smells so they hand you mint leaves on the way in. We saw where they soak the hide in pigeon poop ( it has natural ammonia) to remove the hair, clean it, dry it and dye it. They use not only cow leather but camel and lamb leather. The camel leather is the strongest and the lamb leather is very soft. Ernest got his second pair of slippers (this is his second trip) and I finally own my first leather jacket. I got the lamb and it is incredibly soft.
We saw the first rain as we were leaving the medina, which Morocco is in great need of, but it didn't last very long. Tomorrow we start very early to travel over the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara.
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