Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fes and Meknes

Heading into the Fes medina

This morning I was crushed by throngs of people carrying bags full of groceries, was assaulted by smells I could never describe,  stepped in several kinds of poo,  almost fell into an open pit, had my foot stepped on by a donkey, cried silent tears when I saw the horrific working conditions of the leather tanners, had one of the most frightening and expensive experiences of my life, and I can say without a doubt that I loved every minute of it.

The medina (old city) in Fes was started in year 808 (making it the oldest medina in the world), and is still today a living, breathing, labyrinth of a city, enclosed by a wall which limits its physical size but not apparently its population because 500,000 people live within this space. 

As well as all those people there are mosques, churches, schools, and 90,000 businesses selling everything imaginable and more.  The aisles or streets range in width from 2 - 6 ft wide and you have to share this space with people, donkeys, mules, wheelbarrows, buggys and anything else that can negotiate the streets.

In the afternoon we visited Meknes, a fortified city surrounded by impressive and formidable walls, which were built by the slaves and labourers of badass Sultan Moulay Ismail, who made the city his headquarters in the 17th century.

But more importantly to us, Meknes is the city where Paco's father was born, so we had some of own history to absorb.   Paco's grandfather was a medical doctor working in a military hospital in Meknes around 1900, which explains why his father was born there in 1903.  The hospital was housed in a former Roman Catholic convent which still stands today.  Not sure what it is used for now,  because we could not read the sign.

Paco said he was surprised by the waves of emotion that hit him when we passed the convent.   His father didn't spend much time in Morocco and was taken back to Spain when he was still a baby.   There's more to this story and I keep asking Paco to write it all down.  Maybe I'll help him start his own blog!

whew!  Tomorrow another long bus ride to Marakkesh, but I'll have my memories of today to keep me occupied.

Paco's father was born here

Entrance and walls into Meknes

Apartments within the medina

Meat market section of medina - that's a camel head for sale

Entrance to mosque in medina

Leather tannery in medina

End of meat market, beginning of fruit market.  Those black things are bull testicles.

Medina is a no-car zone

My pirate look

1 comment:

  1. great blog. thanks hunny bunny