Fez and I - Spring'18 third newsletter by Ashley Estrella
A few weekends ago we packed our bags and headed off to Fes.
To the dismay of my sleep schedule we left Rabat at 8:30am. After a four-hour bus ride and many snacks in between, we arrived at our Hotel in Fes. We set down our bags and then were off to our guided tour of Fes.
Fes is an incredibly unique and beautiful city. The Fes Medina holds true to its definition that it once was a non-European city in Africa. In Arabic, medina simply means “city”. And Fes has two cities- the new city (Fes-el-Djedid) and the old city (Fes-el-Bali). Built with narrow, winding roads, Fes is a complicatedlabyrinth. Walking through the maze we eventually found ourselves at the famous Fes tannery. The tanneries of Fes produce most of the city’s renowned leather. The sight was amazing- there were dozens of men, most waste deep in dyes, working at a trade very few from the Western world will ever see. The tannery looked almost like a tray of watercolors. Deep vats held dyes in an array of colors and shades, each manned by a single tanner. Taking the raw leather in the vat, the tanners stomp on the hides until they have the desired color. Before arriving at the tannery, we were warned that the tannery would smell horrendous- the slaughterhouse is directly behind the tannery. However, there is no need to fret- the workers give you mint to mask the smell. It really is not as bad as you would think!
After the guided tour we had free time. A few friends and I decided to continue walking around the medina. We spent hours going in and out of stores- I finally bought some Moroccan Argon oil. Believe it or not, we even made it to a cute little Thai restaurant! We wandered around a bit more before calling it a night!
The next day, we went to Ifrane, the King’s favorite city. It was unfortunately raining and cold, so we spent most of our time inside a cafe. Unlike Fes that was very Middle Eastern, Ifrane was incredibly European. It looked as if you transported a quaint city in the French countryside into Morocco. Finally, before heading back to Rabat we stopped at a park filled with monkeys! After feeding them some peanuts and taking cute selfies, we were back on the bus.