When I got to “F” I had planned to go to Fiji. The South Pacific is calling to me like Bali Hai in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Unfortunately, a trip to Fiji costs a lot more money than I had to spend. That left me looking for something exotic to quench my desire to see the world. I bought a pocket atlas and spent a couple days flipping through the pages, searching for an “F” that was close enough to be affordable. When I spotted Fez, Morocco, I knew I’d found my “F” destination. I bought a tour guide book and started checking on the whats and whens of Fez. I called my daughter to see if she’d be willing to explore the Medina of Fez with me – of course she said, “Yes!”
I booked the plane tickets, found an affordable hotel and took time off from work. I was off to Fez with my daughter. What an amazing and perfectly fascinating place. The Medina lives up to its reputation as a walled maze of confusion. I was glad I had read the guide book and heeded its warning to hire a guide. The crowded alley-like passages were packed with people and animals. Fortunately we had been warned to listen for “balek, balek” — which basically means, “get out of the way, donkey coming through.”
Fez is also home to a huge tannery. Dozens of vats with different colored dyes hold hundreds of animal hides – everything from camel to lamb to cow. Tannery workers climb into the vats and stomp the hides into the dyes until they are the right color, then spread them out on the rooftops in the sun to dry. What an incredible process.
Our guide took us to see how rugs are made (yes, I bought one), how silver is engraved, how linens are hand-embroidered (another purchase) and finally to a shop where all those dyed hides had been turned into magnificent leather creations. We came away with a messenger bag, a footstool and a couple of smaller items.
The next day we toured the home of a Moroccan prince who our guide knew personally. It was a lavish display of Moroccan skill. The tile work was breathtaking; the stained glass windows glowed brilliantly in the African sun. I was thrilled to have achieved my goal of finding the exotic in an affordable destination!
As for the food … all I can say is this: no matter where you are in the world, enjoy the local cuisine! You will experience flavors that will make your taste buds dance with delight. That was certainly the case in Morocco.
Next stop – G is for Galapagos.