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Fez

Since we´ve gone the cheapie route so far in Morocco, we wanted to splurge a little and get a nice room in a  beautiful riad (traditional house where the rooms are centered around a courtyard) and at least have hot water for a shower.  We got a whole lot more than that.  I feel absolutely spoiled!  Our room is beautiful with all the drapes and fabrics done up in golds and reds and handmade furniture.  We have a gorgeous sitting room with satellite tv and a jacuzzi tub.  The breakfast is wonderful and the riad even has a spa on site.  Morocco is supposedly pretty cheap (I say supposedly because there are alot of ways Moroccans can seperate you and your money), however if you do it right, it can be suprising how affordable it can be.  We are not traveling during the high season, and since we´ve been trying to cut corners, we can afford to splurge a little.  I say splurge loosely since this is probably the nicest place I have ever stayed and it´s only costing a little over $100 a night.

The food is also amazing!  Last night we went to a really fancy hotel (it cost those people at least $300 a night to stay there.  Haa!) and had a FEAST.  My appetizer consisted of at least 6 different small salads, and the entree and desert were no less amazing.  Joe ordered something different so we can try each other´s food.  There was also entertainment with musicians and a belly dancer.  When we waddled back to the room we were very overstuffed and very happy.

Today we hired a guide to take us to the medina (old part of town).  The medina in Fez is the biggest in Morocco and its winding streets are difficult if not impossible to navigate if you aren´t a local.  We were glad we had a guide.  He showed us things we would not have been able to find on our own.

One of the first things he showed us was the large tannery.  This is where sheep, goat, and camel skin go to to be made into things such as, purses and jackets.  It is quite something.

The hair is first removed using limestone.  The hair is dried and then sent to be used to stuff matresses and pillows.  The skin is then put into huge vats of dye along with water and oil (I´ve also heard pigeon poo and cow dung are also used, but I´m not certain).  The dye is a a natural die.  The indigo plant is used for the blues, poppy flower is used for pink, etc.  It is dried and then made into objects.  It is a very fascinating and very smelly process.

We also got to see people making other objects such as; weaving fabrics,  making lamps, even something as simple as baking bread is fascinating here.

Fez is known all over the world for it´s handicrafts and today we found out why. 90% of people who live in the Medina make their living handcrafting objects.  It is then bought by the locals, sold to tourists, or shipped out to places such as Europe to be sold.  We also found out that the best places to buy these crafts are local artists cooperatives.  The quality of the work is better, the prices are better, and there is a better chance the money ends up in the artist´s hands and not a middle man that marks it up.

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