Morocco is a country with so many different faces. Different region has its own story, its own culture, its own food, its own style of dressing. I saw just a small part of all that. But as I am always saying – better a bit than nothing at all. So, this time was Fès and its surroundings.
Medina of Fès, what actually is the Old town, carries the title of one of the biggest car-free urban zones in the world. All the area is for pedestrians just from time to time some donkeys, horses or motorcycles with huge carriages of goods for sale are passing by in these small streets. Moreover, it is recognized as UNESCO world heritage site too. Medina is absolutely unique part of the city, which cannot be compared with any place in Europe. Medina actually is one huge market, where probably the greatest thing is just to get lost. Get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and all this local rush. Just follow your eyes and meet new adventures, which are waiting on every next corner. Views and smells and people, covered with colourful djellabas and bernousses, will show you how does it feel to live in Morocco.
On one side of the narrow street you will be invited to sit down in restaurant for traditional mint tea. On another – your eyes will be checking out the strange sweet pastries, usually filled with almonds, or various types of Moroccan pancakes. Then few steps further you will see a dead camel head, gracefully hanged at the meat kiosk. Look at your right – number of roosters, crowing for the last times, are waiting to be killed after the buyer’s choice. Look down – a small river of blood will be running on the pavement. Probably someone just chosen a chicken, which was guillotined straight right there. They even have special machines for removal of its feathers in a few seconds…
After such view you don’t need to go far for the more aesthetic change: second shop in the souk will be selling traditional clothes and shoes, so-called balghas. On your left – you will see number of traditional music instruments on sale. Then look up and take time to understand how the ancient Dar al-Magana water clock was working in its Golden Age. After, go to visit one of medersas, the religious educational places, counting hundreds of years. When discovering Medina – you will definitely pass by number of entrances to mosques too.
Then again – back into the rush of the market: local goods, mixed up with European ones. Some steps later you will get into the kingdom of silver, which quickly will be covered with hills of colourful spices. “This is the mix of 45 spices. Smell it”, you can simply not notice, how the jar full of spices will appear in front of your nose. No need for spices? Don’t worry, then you will get other suggestions: “Argan oil? Tenneries? Silver teapots? Couscous or tajine? We have everything!” Don’t be surprised, when you will stop for the moment to think which street to choose, a child will appear in front of you, ready to help to orientate. Or even the guide, who will offer his service in the Medina: “You will get lost there, so you need a guide, who knows everything”. But ignore them because it is absolutely not true. You can perfectly discover this unique part of Fès by yourself. However, if you want a guide, be prepared to pay him and visit all the sellers he will show you on your way…
It is very interesting, what stories locals are telling about their beloved Fès and Morocco. To believe in them, or not to believe – that is a question. If you want facts – dive into the encyclopedia. But while you are there, better listen for those imaginative Moroccan people. And, even if their stories are really created, why not to get in such Moroccan fairytale?
by Gintarė Adamonytė