Fes more than everywhere else in Morocco is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
I adventured myself as a strong, independent women in the Medina of Fes twice. Once when I arrived, I left my stuff at the AMAZING HOSTEL I am staying in: Medina Social Club. Seriously, it looks like a palace but it costs like a hostel!) and went outside. After three blocks a guy followed me and told me “that part of the Medina is closed for non-muslims” and I had to go through another street he was leading me to. I walk about 3 steps with him and realized he was leading me into another narrow alley while his bunch of friends followed closely. I calmly told him I was going to pick up my friend from the riad I was staying at and that I would be back. I just turn around and walked back to the other way towards the blue door (most important door of the Medina). The way to the door was full of places selling food, so I bought my favorite: Bastilla, and went back to my palace to eat. I mean my hostel 🙂
I ate my dinner in the terrace with an amazing view of the Medina. Feeling Fez was rough and beautiful at the same time. She won’t give in easily. To know her, you must fight the dragons guarding her treasures.
Next morning I felt more confident and wondered out early. After a few blocks on my way to see the famous tanneries, another man determined he was going to follow me everywhere I went. And insisted he wanted to help me. What made it worse is that I kept looking at the map on my phone, so he knew I didn’t know where to go. Honestly I didn’t. But I was determined not to follow him into his store or wherever he wanted to lead me. Do not do that. So I repeatdely asked him to leave me alone. And he didn’t. Followed me back and forth until I had to come back to the hostel. It is exhausting to be such a superstar on these streets!
So I had to leave my ego aside, and ask for help at the hostel. They called an official guide for me. And God bless this man Ins’ allah!
Sidik took me into the heart of the Medina, which I would have never found on my own. And nobody even got close to me. I was guarded by this lovely Moroccan grandpa.
He took me to see the tanneries, which you see from the terrace of a store. Of course you are expected to buy something. But the things are beautiful, just be ready to bargain. The pictures worth it!
Sidik also took me to the Al Attarine Madrassa. the old dorms of the University students. The biggest university in the Arab world. This mudras is intact, and amazing to see how these students lived back then. A trip to the past.
After that we went to see the weaver, and all the wonderful things they do. From scarfs to blankets. All by hand. Of course you are expected to buy, but these are cheaper. And beautiful as well (about 100 dirhams each, 10 euros).
My guide had to go to the mosque to pray at 12.30, today is eid Mubarak (the end of Ramadan) and it is the most important religious holiday in the Islam world. So he left me at a local pharmacy and went to pray. I was with a group of Malaysians being sold all kinds of products, and I acted as a translator and model of the products. For this I got a very good discount on handmade rose oil.
We also walked around the doors of the biggest mosque: Mosquee et Universite Karaouiyne. Al-Karaouine is a city in Tunes, from where many immigrants came to Morocco in the 9th century, and the university takes the name of it. The daughter of a rich merchant called Fatima invested in the university to spread the education.
Thanks to my Arab grandpa for a day, I enjoyed every step through those dark narrow alleys of Fes. Those alleys that hold so much history, smells, colors and sensations.