Greetings from Fez, the land of countless, endless mazes. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after a bumpy 5 hour bus ride from Chefchaouen. The highlight of the trip was seeing 3 sheep being stowed in the cargo area below the bus. And it was just normal for everyone. The sheep just kind of stood there waiting for the door to be shut. But then I give them my walking stick to load on the bus and they bust out laughing and showing it to everyone. Strange.
I met an Italian on the bus ride, Mateo, although he seems more like a Giovanni to me. He just finished his studies in Geology and is traveling through Morocco for a month while he decides what to do next. We walked around Fez for a couple of hours upon arriving, looking for a hotel/pension/whatever. We must have seen 10 different places and none of them really stood out. Most of them are families giving up their living room for you to sleep in. It sounds romantic and every time someone tells me a story about a family they stayed with I think I need to do that. But then I walk into one of these places and I think I’m not really feeling it. Maybe sometime.
And of course the last place we went to was by far the best. Hotel Cascade where I met Hussein the self-proclaimed rapper who works at the hotel. He doesn’t speak much English but he likes to try to rap while he waves his hands in front of him, and he ends all his lines with ‘Now go away….yeah’. I am telling you he is a talent and needs to be signed immediately. He really liked my yellow Camino de Santiago arrow I had pinned on my shirt and asked if he could have it. Of course. Anything for Hussein. He put it on right away and then broke into an impromptu rap session. Hands always waving.
About Hotel Cascade…we’ve got an open air roof top terrace and we’re right at one of the big entrances into the medina (the old city). In the morning you see all the merchants carting in their goods in wheelbarrows, or on bicycles with a big cart in front, or my favorite, the mule. I feel terrible for these animals as they just get so much stuff loaded on their backs. This one mule seemed to be the trash mule as he just walked around and people threw their trash over him and into a big plastic tub.
Once we got settled in, we hung out on the terrace for a bit with some other travelers and then Giovanni stood up and said ‘Ok, I’m going to go get lost now. Do you want to join me?” Ten minutes later I had no clue where I was. It is impossible to not get lost here. No map can help. You just walk and hope you eventually see something you recognize which is not too often. You just walk and try to take in what you can as you scan the shops and at the same time try to keep clear of the oncoming mule with his wide load and while you’re trying to shake that kid off your leg who wants to be your guide through town you’re telling the shady looking guy who talks in a hushed voice that for the last time you do not want to buy any ‘good stuff’. It’s amazing. And you can tell that it’s always been just like this here in the Medina.
‘Now go away…yeah’.