Morocco: the madness begins

my first morning in morocco, i was really excited to go out and explore this
insane crazy country. i had heard so many stories about just how different
morocco is, that i had built it up really really high in my mind. but the
morocco that i saw outside my hotel, wasn’t anything that out of control. the
city, although obviously not at the high end of technology, to me looked fairly
modern in a lot of ways with lots of cars driving down wide streets past
umbrella covered cafes.

but, upon looking closer a bit, you could definitely tell that you were really
in morocco. for instance, we saw a guy walking down the street w/ 2 peacocks
under his arm. also, although about half the people here do wear western
clothes, the other half did wear traditional moroccon robes, and maybe a third
of the women wore head covverings. another thing was that looking at the many
many people who were chilling at the cafes talking amongst themselves… we
quickly realized that they were *all* men. literally all men… not a single
woman among them. it’s really interesting to see the blending of the old ways
w/ the new here, and to see how Moroccans adapt to the western influence in the

according to our guidebook, the main thing to see in Fez is the Medina, the
marketplace, which the old walled city in the center of Fez consists of. it
was a bit sketchy trying to find a guide, since morocco is infamous for sketchy
guides who try to get you into carpet stores to buy stuff, but some random guy
came up to us who seemed nice enough and soon we set off.

as soon as we set foot in the Medina, we realized that this was exactly what we
had been looking for. all of a sudden, we were no longer in a 21st century
modern town, but were in an ancient city. the medina is this insanely huge
maze of walkways, alleys, arches, and shops. it’s miles and miles wide and big
enough to hold about 500,000 people that live there. not a single street is
markes or labeled, and the whole thing is absolute chaos. people are rushing
about everywhere, old men are playing cards and sipping tea, others are
screaming trying to sell there wares, every 2 or 3 minutes you have to squeeze
aside because a donkey w/ about a million pounds of stuff is walking by you.
little kids rush about, darting in and out of the alleys, giggling and
sometimes following you along. it’s another planet.

the medina is a flurry of different sights and smells. everyone is cooking up
random stuff and you can smell fresh mint, herbs, and roasted meats all over.
another very prevalent smell, is the smell of the tanneries where they dye
leather. these smell pretty horrible, and you can smell them from very far
away. as far as sights, there’s a ton of different things to look at down every
street… tons of different colored beans and herbs piled in huge piles,
ceramics in every different shape and size, clothing, jewelry, unrecognizeable
chopped up bits of animal ( and some recognizeable like the whole camel head we
saw just sitting on a table!), and all sorts of other stuff.

basically, i dont think its actually possible for things to get any crazier than
this market… well, maybe in india it might be, but i dunno. some other cool
things we saw: the inside of a tannery where we got to watch from a rooftop how
they dye the leather and wool, a pharmacy pretty much run by this 14 year old
kid… people come and tell the kid their illnesses and he chooses a remedy for them from the array of spice jars in the shop, and a mosque filling up w/ people when the call to prayer happened. one interesting thing i thought was that very few people here respond to the prayer call. i totally thought that when the call came, that everyone would instantly stop what they were doing and pray, but most people disregarded the call completely.

the following day, we came back to the medina to further explore… but this time w/out a guide. things are a lot rougher w/out a guide because people pester you like crazy. they will not take no for an answer and follow you for blocks and blocks even if you repeatedly tell them to go away. it definitely gets aggrevating. eventually, some of them get downright rude… also, you definitely need to keep on your toes, and although none of us got pickpocketed or anything, we were always vigilant and also walked w/ the é girls between us two guys to watch them. on the flip side, although we got hq*assled a bit more, we started getting a bit used to the medina, and what was once a undecipherable maze, was now aty least a *tiny* bit more familiar.

*sigh*, well, i think i’ll stop here, even though i could probably write pages and pages and pages just about the two days we spent in the medina!! joey, if you are reading this, we are becoming the equivalent of thai-hard here in morocco!

we’re staying one more night here in the royal pube hotel ( so dubbed because the sheets have not been washed in centuries) and leaving tomorrow early to go to marrakech…