"Can we pay them to leave us alone?"

Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
Trip End Apr 03, 2012

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fez was quite the experience. Our bus got in around 7 AM and we caught a taxi to the medina. Our hostel was hard to find, so we got someone to pick us up and take us straight to the door. Definitely lucked out with the hostel—it was absolutely beautiful, the staff was super helpful, and they let us have breakfast! The hostel receptionist immediately recommended we take a guided tour of the medina, but we foolishly decided to try it on our own.

The second we got into the medina, we got totally bombarded by Moroccan men trying to get us to hire them as a tour guide. They got fairly aggressive, so we decided to just pick the calmest man and pay him to help us. It ended up costing us less than 5 dollars total, and he took us everywhere we wanted to go. Since it was easy to see Fez while walking from shop to shop, we decided to just buy all the things we wanted with the help of the guide.   

First, he took us to buy some pottery at a factor on the edge of the medina. The factory was super cool—we got to watch people form, paint, and bake the pottery.  Plus, they had a gigantic selection of pottery for sale! We all bought a few presents and some stuff for ourselves, then took a cab back to the hostel to drop it all off. Then we met up with the tour guide again and went off to find some Fez hats. He took us to the Fez hat factory, so we were also able to buy a ton of Fez hats for a good price. Totally hilarious, although we felt bad for the factory workers because it smelled so much like glue that they were pretty much guaranteed to have lasting brain damage. 

Navigating the medina (even with the guide) was fairly exhausting, so we went back to the hostel to eat and relax on the terrace. Then the hostel receptionist recommended we go to the Hammam across the street. A Hammam is a traditional bath house, and the one across the street was very authentic (not for tourists). Lauren and I decided to go while Michelle took a nap.  It started out quite innocently.  We asked the man at the front desk of our hostel what we would do at the hammam and he explained that we would just go there, get into our swimming suits, put our clothes away, get a short massage, and then we could bath ourselves and go between the hot and cold baths.  That is not what happened. 

We walked in and were directed (in some grunts and vivacious gestures) to take our tops off in the common area, give our clothing to the woman in charge, and follow a slightly older female, who was also essentially naked.  She led us to a private room, probably because we looked completely and utterly useless, and had us sit on what looked like place mats.

We sat down with our knees hugged into our chests and looked bewildered.  The half naked lady then started pouring water from six different buckets all over us with the help of a clothed, water-fetcher friend, who kept refilling the buckets. Half-naked lady then proceeded to rub black mud all over our arms, legs, and back (we think this was the massage) and scrub us with an exfoliating mitt of some sort.  After scrubbing roughly two pounds of dead skin off of each of us, she washed us off again with the bucket water.  Meanwhile, fully clothed, water-fetching lady was laughing hysterically with (and at) us the whole time.

After finishing with our bodies, the woman had us undo our hair and washed it with some more mud.  She brushed extremely vigorously and we could see it on each other's faces as she pulled our hair backwards.  At this point, there were about four locals on the other side of the room laughing at us as well.

We finally finished our bathing excursion and redressed.  Upon getting back to our hostel, we immediately took showers with real soap. Overall, it was a hilarious experience that we will probably not be repeating any time soon.

Our train for Casablanca left early in the morning, so we just spent the rest of the night packing our stuff in an attempt to not let it break during the remainder of our travelling. Since Lauren was leaving the next night and Michelle and I only had one night in Casa, we decided to just pack for the plane and leave out the clothes/stuff we needed the next day. By this point, we had bought a whole mess of stuff, so it was hard to get it packed well. We went to bed early so we would be ready for the train, then woke up around 7 to catch a cab to the train station and hop on the train to Casablanca. Definitely ready for a change of scenery from Fez—it was super cool but less than relaxing. Hopefully Casablanca is slightly less overwhelming since it has so much French influence. 
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Mom on

The "bath" story make me laugh out loud! ...."and then we went home and took a shower".....so funny. Thanks for having the courage to experience that, custom, and then share it with us. Great memories and wonderful "bar" stories. ha, ha....

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