Fez, it’s not just a fun name to say, it’s a quirky little town with a cool medina nestled within the city’s core, which in a way makes it as unique as its single syllable suggests. At the center of this Unesco World Heritage site, the medina is a maze of vendors and alleyways and vendors crammed into impossibly small alleyways. Many are, in fact, one-donkey width wide, and at times the architecture combined with the atmosphere and mens’ clothing makes it feel strangely like you are on a Star Wars set. Having been built in the late 8th century by Muslim traders, you find, unsurprisingly I suppose, that the predominant architecture is Muslim with its famous key-hole style doorways and arches.
The medina vendors sell all sort of things, and this is after all what the medina is and traditionally was for, a central place to buy and sell whatever you needed. Today you can find live chickens and other birds, a huge array of what we called Aladdin style copper lamps, leather goods, carpets, camel heads, you know – the everyday essentials. As it was date and olive season, we took active part in that delicious end of commerce. Walking around, or as is perhaps more correctly stated, getting lost in the medina is extremely easy being the largest non-motorized urban space in the world, and a lot of fun because you don’t know what is going to be around the next corner, and it really could be almost anything. A special treat was seeing the huge multi-tenanted leather tanneries; in other words, stone vessels filled with dye and other liquids where workers take Moroccan leather and dye it with all-natural dyes using very nearly the same process they have used for hundreds of years, which includes cow urine and pigeon poop. The oldest tannery is nearly 1,000 years old. You can read about the process by clicking here if you’re interested. The leather products they turn out are truly stunning, the colors are so warm and vibrant. It was hard to resist filling our backpacks with the traditional pointy slippers.
We had coordinated our trip to Morocco to coincide with the arrival of our friends Andy and Jodi who were just beginning their own ‘Round the World’ trip. After being seemingly joined at the hip for nearly a year, it was great to spend time with our new comrades in arms! And it makes it very tempting to extend this trip until…. hmmm.