The old medina of Fes is the largest in Africa, thousands of small cobbled labyrinthine alleys. They twist and turn, yellow and brown in colour, a sepia kind of world filled with people and animals.
There are no cars, just people pushing carts and donkeys pulling loads. You have to have eyes in the back of your head and move quickly out of the way lest you get run over.
There's food rotting in places, garbage laying around, smells and sounds assault the senses. Stall holders sit or stand beside their wares, many cooking, making and creating as you walk by. The buildings are narrow and multi storeyed, the alleys shadowed, it is a huge place where you easily become disorientated. Our first foray into this new world was with a guide. We followed dutifully, listened intently and learned many things. Unfortunately it often felt like one sales pitch after another. Yes we got to see many artisans at work AND we got to listen to their speil about their wares and politely decline the offer of 'good' deals. We really don't want to buy a carpet! The half hour or more that we spent sipping mint tea and 'learning' about the craft of making carpets, being asked which we like, which ones to set aside etc... is all part of the Moroccan experience. It is a game that is played in good humour on both sides. They really are amazing sales men, we figured we did all right coming out of it with credit card un dented. (we did see some beautiful Bereber carpets, some are small and can be use as wall hangings, we are thinking seriously about buying one, but certainly not from a large carpet shop in Fes)
Later in the afternoon Colin and I armed with a map braved the alleys close to our Riad. At last we could wander at our leisure, stop where we wanted to and just take it all in. We played it safe, took great care and managed to find our way back again and purchase some fruit for lunch. What we would really like to do is just wander and get totally lost, the problem then is how to get found. We can ring our Riad but how do we tell them where we are (no street signs here) and the medina covers kilometres, hours walking from one end to another!
Not sure what these are going to be used for
Our Haven - Riad Layooun, the internal courtyard