Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lost and Found in Fez

Despite our better judgement, Maggie, Levi, Emma and I made a venture into Fez for a long day-trip, taking the earliest train (7:20) and planning on coming back on the last train, whenver that was. Fez is closer to Rabat, where the boat is, and is only a 3 hour train ride. We were “experienced” (HA!) travelers now, so no problem.  We got to Fez, and headed out of the train station, and saw a huge line of Taxis. One quickly offered to take us to the 'medina' (downtown) for only 70 Dirhams. We knew that was wrong...... and after walking down the street 100 feet, we found one for less than half, 30 Dirhams. That’s more like it.

First off, Fez has a much different vibe than Marrakesh. It’s more of a music, hippie, earthy place. As we arrived in the medina, our taxi driver was so excited to be speaking English and using hand gestures, he HIT a pedestrian walking across the street who wasn’t watching where he was going either. No harm done, a lot of Arabic yelling back and forth, and we were there…..almost. As we got out, Emma spotted some puppies on a blanket near the wall, and as she approached, the mom of the litter, not pleased at all, ran after Emma, biting at her ankles. OK, two for two. We went into the medina, parked at a cafĂ©, and had some breakfast. Cheese omelettes, chocolate crepes, mint tea and coffee for 4 people for $12. Not bad.

Fez is known for a lot of handicrafts and leather goods. There are also huge family owned tanneries in part of the city and we were able to tour those, even though the free tour came with a high pressure pitch to buy leather goods. The workmanship was absolutely beautiful, and I was very tempted with a large leather duffel bag, made of camel. But, the boat and the sea is no place for leather goods and I didn’t dwell on it too long. Maybe in another life.

All the guide books say Fez is a circular city and sloped to the middle. Going downhill takes you toward the center, walking uphill supposedly takes you out. Well, we managed to get fairly lost and wound up going down streets that were progressively darker and narrower. All of the sudden, no one we met could speak English. Most Morrocoans speak some English, but now we couldn’t find anyone speaking English, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, nothing but Arabic. Rut ro. We finally found a school boy who took us back into the main part of town, and started the process of getting out. He didn´t speak English either, but with enough hand gestures, he got the idea we were pretty lost!

We were fairly famished by this point, and made a pit stop for some dinner before heading back to the train station. We had ‘tagines’, a Moroccan dish which are clay plates with clay cones that are baked with meat, potatoes, veggies, and rice, olives, and spices inside. All four of us had a fantastic dinner and Cokes for $22. From there, it was a taxi ride back to the train station and wait in the rain for our train.

We made it on the last train, and after riding back for 3 hours, we were trying to figure out which stop was ours. We thought we’d arrived, and all got off. After looking around, we didn’t realized it was NOT the right stop and were climbing back on the train, when it lurched into motion, heading away. Maggie, Levi and I jumped into the open doorway, while Emma was trying to catch up. Levi saw she wasn’t catching up, jumped off to get Emma on and then as the train was speeding up, Levi was running to catch the train car behind us. He jumped on, trying to find a handle, and FELL off the train, sprawling out on the platform! We were going too fast now, and Maggie was hysterically looking for the red handle to stop the train!! We were all in shock, trying to figure out what we do now as Levi was already far in the distance, with no money, no Arabic, in pain, and at 11:30 at night. As we calmed down, we realized as we crossed over the river, that he WAS at the right stop and we were off to the wrong one. No problem. That was the least of our worries. I knew Levi would figure it out and probably walk the ½ mile back to the boat, while we figured out where we were and took a city tram that would take us backwards towards the boat.

All in all, everyone was back safe, just after midnight, with a few bruises, and we were really glad to be together on our little boat, having a late coffee, and telling Rachel about the day’s adventures and mis-adventures!

Thanks Morocco, for an amazing, unforgettable, experience!    

1 comment:

John said...

Wow, quite an experience...haven't heard THAT story before. That's when you know the LORD is watching over you on your adventures!!
I see a book coming!!!