FEZtival of Colors

Fez’s medina is an overwhelming assault on the senses. Around every corner, there is something new to intrigue the visitor … except that the “something new” is usually something very old, in that it’s being done as it’s been done for centuries. So, join us for a pictorial reenactment of our Fez exploration.

This guy was selling cactus fruit on which we snacked.

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Then there was this ornate courtyard in the 1000-year-old university.

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This old-time pharmacist let us sample his therapeutic herbs, which apparently cure every affliction.

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We had a quick look into the Mosque, but we infidels couldn’t go in this time to respect the man praying.

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At this very elaborate old house, there was an extensive collection of exceptional antiques. There was a complete Jewish section that even included a Torah (this was, like many homes we were told, once a Jewish home). Elly especially liked a wine cup that was made of amber. This time, with coaching from Eitan, there was serious bargaining that included Eitan’s patented walk-out-of-the-store-to-be-pursued-by-the-proprietor until the deal was closed.

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Another spectacular house, built in 1315, is now home to a rug maker.

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As with all of these places, we were given enormous hospitality, served tea and given a tour, even though no sale was made. We were shown how the rugs were made, which seems staggeringly complex and impossible. Elly and Sarah put in threads under the watchful eye of the pros.

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We were taken to the roof for the very hot view of the ancient rooftops with their satellite dishes.

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We saw weavers, tinsmiths, bakers, rug makers, woodworkers, tanners, leather craftsmen and dressmakers.

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Walking the streets, we walked past an incredible amount of activity, such as weavers …

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Fabric stores …

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Wood carvers …

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Tinsmiths …

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Fez is also famous for its leather products and most of it comes from the leather bazaar (souq). The souq is home to three ancient leather tanneries, the largest and oldest being the Chouara Tannery, which is almost a thousand years old. Fez’s tanneries are composed of numerous stone vessels filled with a vast range of dyes and various liquids spread out like a tray of watercolors. Dozens of men, many standing waist deep in dyes, work under the hot sun tending to the hides that remain soaked in the vessels.

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The tanneries processes the hides of cows, sheep, goats and camels, turning them into high quality leather products such as bags, coats, shoes, and slippers. This is all achieved manually, without the need for modern machinery, and the process has barely changed since medieval times, which makes these tanneries absolutely fascinating to visit.

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Bakers (the bread was hot!) …

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Incredibly narrow side-streets …

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On and on the aged maze went. There are no real maps of the Medina. If it were not for Momo, we’d still be bumping around, completely lost, searching for our riad. Momo pointed out at this weird windows-balconies in some of the buildings called Mashrabiyas. One of the major purposes of the Mashrabiya is privacy, an essential aspect of Arabic culture. A good view of the street can be obtained by the occupants without being seen, preserving the private interior without depriving the occupants from a vista of the public outside.

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The schedule called for the tour to go until 3:30, but we weren’t done until two hours later than that, completely enthralled with this place.

Back at the riad, we refreshed before being driven to another elaborate old home (also supposedly once owned by Jews) for one more extremely delicious meal.

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One virtue of any travel is that it creates memories. But some days stand out. Fez could be called a memory factory, making for a day we will long remember.

Bonus Pic Of The Day: The Coke Delivery Donkey!! when trucks are not allowed (or fit) in your city, you need to find another way to deliver delicious Coke Cola!

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