The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Monday, April 11, 2016

Down through Morocco

The drive from the "Blue City" of Chefcheouen down to Meknes was kind of fun, in a scary sort of way. There were animals (chickens, dogs, sheep, goats, donkeys) and people walking in the roads and out working in the fields. At one point, rounding a curve, I saw a small motorcycle that had hit a stone bridge abutment (I don't know where the driver had gotten off to, but possible he was on the other side of the wall having been thrown there across his handlebars). The people standing around didn't seem terrible upset, Later, a car decorated for a wedding pulled out in front of me. Luckily, I looked in my rear view mirror because just as I started around the wedding car, a white sedan passed me, furiously honking.

Just before I got to Meknes I passed some Roman ruins. As I've said before, those guys were everywhere.

 Once in Meknes, I had to hire a small motorcycle/wagon to help me find my riad for the night. We went up the hill through terrific traffic, horns honking, vehicles darting, a pedestrians walking right out off the sidewalk and adding to the traffic jam. He finally led me to a large square. We had to make a courageous left turn across rows of cars and people to get in.

I parked on a corner of the sidewalk in the square, and was assured by an attendant there that Olysseus would be okay for the night. A man with a wheel barrow took my luggage to my night's Riad, zig-zagging through the narrow passageways of the Medina.

Soon we came to this door built snugly into the wall of the Medina. It looks like a terrible place for a hotel.

But inside it was a paradise of cushions and tile.

I sat at a table while the owner's wife served me a marvelous meal. The food here is proving to be delicious and very cheap.

My room was up the stairs, and it overlooked the entry hall down below. Not bad for 19 dollars a night, and that included a magnificent breakfast in the morning.

Today  I took a taxi down to the railway station to catch a train to the nearby imperial city of Fes. The taxi driver wanted 7 cents for the ride to the station. I couldn't believe I was hearing him correctly. I thought maybe he meant 7 Euros.

Once in Fes, I hired a guide to take me through the many, many passages of the Medina. I knew I would get lost in there without him.

And what an interesting place it proved to be. Here is the entrance to the oldest university in the world.

Here is the inside of a school. Beautiful, isn't it?

And here is the tomb of a saint. He was one of the Prophet's grandchildren and a very important man in these parts. I was not allowed in.

One of my favorite things in the Medina was the vats where they color camel, cow, sheep and goat leathers to be made into purses and coats.

Most of the vats are closed for cleaning. The king of Morocco will be here in two weeks to re-open them. Here is what they look like in operation. What a nasty, smelly job it must be. All of the dyes are made from vegetable matter.

And here are some of the purses they make there. They had hundreds of them, as well as things to wear. I tried on a beautiful leather jacket made of goat skin. It was very soft and it fit me perfectly, but I could see no reason to buy it.

I also went to a shop where they weave rugs and bed covers. I gather that the weaving is done by men and women all through the town.

It was a little tempting to buy one and have it mailed home, but then again, what would I do with it once I got it home?

Some of the items truly were works of art.

Each passageway in the Medina held workshops that specialized in one item or the other: dresses, spices, wood working and so forth.  Here is a a picture from the metal working area. It looks like a cluttered mess, doesn't it? Still, they had some interesting things there.

After a long day in Fes, I came back to my Riad in Meknes. I hope to catch the sunset from the terrace up on the roof. The Medina doesn't look like much from up there, but the sunset is supposed to be beautiful. It has been cloudy today, so I don't know how this idea will go.

Meanwhile, time for some more people watching.

I am out of battery power, so I will say goodbye for now.