Fes Finale & A Safe Return Home
The Bab Boujeloud Gateway to the Fes Medina
Our last leg in Fes was not for the weary: homestays (and their late-night dinners surfeit with hospitality); medina wandering, touring, and shopping; a lecture on gender issues in Morocco; an intro to Arabic calligraphy--including making your own bamboo instrument and writing your name in Arabic script; a luncheon with two Fassi women of note--an accomplished artist and female activist; and our farewell henna party (accented with an Andalusian musical duo) demanded that we tap into our energy reserves. Some of us succumbed to Fassi Belly and malaise, but we rallied. And we survived the "Hotel" Cascade. Say no more. Except that tea and pastries at Palais Jamais and the pool at Hotel Splendid should have taken some of the edge off....
A Perfect Pair
To counter the anti-couscous coup, we even worked in a tasty dinner at a Ville Nouvelle pizzeria. And lunch at McDonald's--where the "Big Tasty" combo got served up with cumin and where the interior woodwork is of artisinal caliber; it was curious to note the more exuberant Arabic tag line of "I Love All of It" instead of "I'm Lovin' It". Zween.
In the famed medina, the potters' souq and tannery were the sites of much bargaining for striking ceramics and stylish footwear. And our private tour of Medersa Bou Inania--with rooftop access--was a rarely granted bonus. This aerial perspective on the serpentine alleys, the late p.m. soft lighting, and the rising atoms of sound and smell from below were declarative Fes statements. At the restored Riad Louna, our bon voyage dinner of sweet chicken bastilla and lush tomato and pepper salads was a fitting farewell to Morocco's fresh and delicious cuisine.
By now, all of us have certainly indulged in the familiar comforts of home--the favorite couch to sack out in, our preferred comfort food, playful banter with friends and embraces from loved ones (and pets), a visit to the mall or the cinema, and maybe even flipping cable with Cherry Garcia. While the thread count may not have always exceeded your expectations and the nightly 3am REM-interruptus of the muezzin may have gotten tiresome after a while, I do hope that the goodness and authenticity of Morocco endures--and grows--within each of you as each day elapses.
Looking back, the vastness of our experiences and the amount of terrain we covered in just 2 weeks are remarkable. And how about the weather?! Warm days, cool nights, and not a drop of rain. The country did challenge us and thereby revealed itself. There's some honest balance and give-and-take to this calculus. Nothing is to be taken for granted. "Presque" and "10 minutes" mean so much more than they did on June 7th.
It was a privelege to be in a position to "set the table"--or unveil the tajine as it were--and allow all of you to interact and witness this special country and its people on your own terms. I aspired to provide you with an interesting, insightful, and memorable adventure. And a "schwaya" bit of fun too. If I achieved this, I did so thanks to your willingness, openness, flexibility, and, well, patience. So know I am grateful on all counts. I wish you all a pleasant summer and hope that experiential and educational travel will always be a part of your future plans. "Shoukran bezzef" for your company.
An Aerial View of the Fes Medina
Andalusian Musical Performers at the Henna Party
Khadija, a Fassi contemporary painter, offers her outlook on women in Morocco
Seconds-old Henna Adorn Annette's Hand
Street Scene in THE medina
Caroline, Greer, and Alyssa Salute Fes Avec Fez