French spelling, English spelling, whatever.
I bought a fes in the town of Fes. My brother used to collect hats, and I couldn’t help myself. I gave it to him when I got back yesterday.
Since internet wasn’t quite as easy to come by in Morocco as I’d anticipated, I’m going to write a bit about my trip now that I’m home.
We arrived in Fes late in the day. Once we finally landed in Casablanca (after the saga of the cancelled flight and the unhelpful airline and the new flight a day later with a layover that hadn’t been part of our original itinerary), we took the train to Casa’s main station and then hopped the express train to Fes.
When we stepped off the train, bleary-eyed and travel-weary, the sky was pink from the setting sun, and the call to prayer echoed even through the station. The moon was already rising. Finally, we were where we wanted to be.
The Fes medina (old city) is said to be the world’s largest car-free area. The little car we’d gotten into parked outside a gate, and we took our bags and followed our driver into the narrow streets. Some were steep enough to have steps on one side. All curved and intersected unpredictably. It was getting dark, and only men – and a couple of mules pulling carts – walked the streets. Small groups of men sat on low chairs, smoking and talking drinking glasses of mint tea.
We reached our riad, a traditional Moroccan house, and sat in the cool of the open courtyard. The building is over six hundred years old, and the owners (who are from Europe and the Middle East, apparently) did a beautiful job restoring the carved plaster, intricately painted wood, and the zellij (mosaic) tiled floors. (That’s it in the photo on the right.)
After dumping our dusty bags in our room, we made our way up the narrow stairs to the upper terrace. There we could see nearly all of the medina, other terraces and illuminated minarets stretching over the hills. The sky was now almost dark, the moon almost full.
The next night was a lunar eclipse. We returned to the terrace, this time with a bottle of Moroccan white wine. It wasn’t great, said the friendly staff, “but it does what it’s supposed to do.” We watched the moon darken and then emerge again over the lights of the city.
More about the lovely town of Fes soon.