1245 am, adrenaline coarsing through our cold and exhausted bodies as Ryan and myself wander the largest medina on Earth. We had no wifi at the house and our friend Sarah was coming from Casablanca, fours hours away by train. The last we heard if her was when she left the US. We told the family that she would be coming in late if everything went according to plan, she would be at the train station at 1215 am. The family said they would send a driver to wait for her at the train station and told us not to leave the house. Yet, there Ryan and I stood, at the drop off point, at 1 am in a dark and a different city. No Sarah. We nervously marched back to the house and snuck back in to a worried Gwen and Thanecha. Sarah was out there, somewhere in Morocco, and there was little we could do to help her get to us. We all went to bed, feeling very uneasy and worried.
I heard the door knocking, and instantly woke up. In a daze I glanced at my watch glowing 4:04 in bright blue numbers. I opened the door to find the man who picked us up earlier, and Sarah standing next to him. I have her the realest hug I have ever given anyone. Relieved, I thanked the man endlessly and brought her in. Finally, we were all in the same place, safe.
We all woke up a little easier that day knowing she was with us. Ready to take on the medina full on, on our own. We finished our breakfast and ventured out with no immediate goal in mind. We had read about seeing the tanneries, but the medina maze left us on an endless journey of winding passages and narrow confusing streets that go in every direction. What we though was the way to the tanneries, left us with a nice, unintended view over looking the medina. We paused to admire the view that left us wanting more.
Up there, we met a couple from the Netherlands and joined them as they were headed back down near the tannieries. Their perfect English speaking guide was more than happy to help us. We zigged and zagged our way through tunnels and narrow streets, dodging donkey carts, mopeds and fellow tourist to the tannieries. A man handed us mint as we approached the balcony. The smell hits you first, hence the mint, but the view was nothing short of incredible.
Giant pots of red, yellow, white, pink and brown dye filled a seemingly small lot in back of all of these shops. The smell of sulfur, phosphates, and bird poop, yes bird poop, kept a constant and relentless assault on your nose. Men jumping in and out of the pots, dragging leather hydes with them, mixing them and throwing them between pots. Truly amazing, and amazingly odorous.
After entertaining the salesmen and not buying anything, we wandered aimlessly through the medina. We covered the entire span of it, talking with locals and bargaining along the way. Watching Ryan has become a spectacle in itself. The kid knows how to get what he wants for the price he wants. We explored the medina till sun down and had a feast prepared by our host family, back at the house. After dinner I snuck on the roof to find a special view of the medina. It was a new view and a peaceful way to close out our time in the old part of town.
Fes is a incredibly intimidating city with vast amouts of charm if you are willing to look for it. Get past the constant hassle of people trying to sell you junk and you will uncover a different side from what most people will tell you. Visit Fes, get lost, enjoy the food and people, you will have a great time.