June 17, 2008

It's hard to believe, but I've been in Fez for three weeks now studying Arabic. During my time here, I've stayed with an amazing Berber family in the heart of the medina who has been incredibly welcoming. I know that if I were to stay in Fez for three weeks in a hotel, I would have had a totally different experience.
Fez is the third largest city in Morocco, contains the world's oldest continually functioning university (Qarawiyyin), and the old medina where I lived is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from that, Fez is one of the four Royal Cities in Morocco, along with Meknes, Rabat, and Marrakech). The city itself is quite interesting to just wander around. Of course there's a bit of hassle from the shop keepers who all want you to take a look or buy something from their shop, but it's a lot less then I expected.
Fez is famous for a number of things, including the tanneries where they turn animal hide into leather of all sorts of colour. The whole process is done naturally, in huge vats of chemicals (including pigeon excriment) and natural dyes, by people who have learned the trade from their fathers/uncles. The process does smell a bit, though it's not too bad if you go in the afternoon.
The city is great to just wander around, and get lost in (which is rather easy to do). The old city is totally surrounded by the original/repaired medieval wall, which helps a bit with the navigation.
I've enjoyed my three weeks in Fez, and I know that I'll be back ('Insha-allah' as they say here) when I have the chance. I'm now off to explore other parts of Morocco, including the coast and Marrakech.


Anonymous said...

Bet those cats would love a tasty morsel!!! Not too sure about humans though

Stephen said...

There are cats everywhere in Morocco, but they love the meat section of the medinas for obvious reasons.