Trip Start Oct 03, 2009
Trip End Mar 31, 2010

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We had a quintessential Moroccan experience in Fez. It really is an amazing place, even the harassment and the constant and relentless invites into stores can not take away the magic. The medina literally takes you back hundreds of years, its easy to imagine what life would have been like here 500+ years ago. No cars are allowed in the medina and this really adds to the atmosphere. Donkeys are the transport of choice for goods, and horses pull people and carts. A few times a shiny object caught my attention in the shops, or a camels head hanging in a butcher made my jaw drop and I saw my life flash by as I was floored by a donkey.  I love Morocco.

We decided to hire a guide to help us navigate the 9000+ streets in Medina.  Fetah didn’t really show us anything we hadn’t managed to see ourselves but he was fabulously sophisticated, he wore a cream coloured corduroy suit and tapped his long black umbrella throughout the whole tour. We got our giggles out of him, but I think its more fun getting lost in the alleys and getting the local kids to point you back to where you want to go.

Highlights of fez were:

1. The Medina - unlike anywhere in the world or in Morocco. There are just enough tourists there to feel some comfort, but not enough to leave you unexposed.
2.  The hundreds of beautiful mosaic fountains in the city. I’ve decided I simply cant go on without my own….
3.  Looking down at the Medina from this fantastic café to see the surrounding walls and really grasp the enormity of this place.
4. Dining at Thamis - a little café in the corner of the medina, Thami is a local celebrity, he has appeared in every guidebook and has the clippings to prove it. We had some great meals there and Thami came across really easy going but I will never forget the disturbing sight of him separating beans early in the morning.
5. Trying this wonderful broth with snails in it. Served out of a huge steaming pot you can smell it before you spot the vendor.
6. Getting to know the vendors, changing the way I look at couscous, seeing where food really comes from and looks like, great coffees, new love affair with cumin, being exposed to argan oil and black olive soap!

Back to my quintessential Moroccan experience - we decided to spend 3 nights in Fez 1) because we were having a great time and the locals had eased off a bit because they recognised us and 2) because we needed to sort out how we were going to do our camel trekking which we were really keen to do. To set the scene, we were staying in a kind of home stay (led there by a rasti tout called ‘charile brown’) we only found out it was someone’s house when we noticed the grandma sprawled on a day bed for our whole stay. To get to this place you have to do a few rights and left down a few small dark alleys, there is not much on the way except some cats slinking around. Anyway, on our 2nd morning we were on our way to get some breakfast and this guy (Mustapha) stopped us in the alley, he started with the usual, can I say something to you, where you from, oh really, kangaroo - and then we couldn’t believe our luck when he was like “you want to do a desert tour?”.  Mustapha took us to a nearby café, where he plied us with mint tea and sold us on a 2 day 3 night desert tour  (see photo of make-shift brochure). We ended up paying half of what he originally asked for and when  Mustapha promised that we would “make fiesta, so we know we in Africa”  we were pretty excited.  Mustapha gave his word that we would be picked up the next morning at 7 and after scribbling “afun” and “vasim”  on a receipt we gave him a small deposit we walked away wondering if we had just been done. Mustapha also promised he would provide a great tour because he wanted us to “make for him good publicity”.  So we went home and waited nervously for Mustapha to collect us the next morning.

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