Friday, November 30, 2012

Morocco, Day 2

Day two was all about touring the medina.  It was completely indescribable.  The whole experience was like stepping back in time, where craftsmanship was one's livelihood.  Our guide, Halid, was so gracious.  He was born and raised in Fes, and takes such pride in his city.

 Me at Bab Bou Jeloud - the Blue Gate.  It was constructed during the French Protectorate, in 1913. Also, thought it is known as the Blue Gate, the reverse side is green! 
 Andalusia Mosque - dates back to the 9th century.  It is the second most important religious edifice in Fez after Qaraouiyan. It was built at the end of the 9th century by Meryem, the sister of Fatima Al-Fihria, the woman who built Qaraouiyan Mosque.  The gorgeous Almohad door was added on in the 12th century.  Right next door, the oldest public restroom I've ever encountered - also from the 9th century!
 Halid was so proud that the medina offered camel the day we toured.  He kept telling me I had to take a picture.  Reluctantly, I handed over the camera.  I'm sure s/he was a great camel...
 Seffarine Square - where all the copper/brass is "tinked" (that's what I call it).  It's a peaceful square among the bustling medina.  I would own everything from this square, if I could.
 Bou Inania Medersa.  It distinguishes itself among other magnificent buildings in the city because it has a water clock and a mosque, in addition to the school.  It dates back to the 14th century.  Something I thought when I stepped in was the Golden Age for Arab science/art/literature, which is something we so often forget these days.  Fes, Baghdad, and other major Arab cities were once the epicenter of Academia, as well as Fine Arts.  This building blew my mind.
 Bou Inania 
 A girl taking her family's bread to the bakery.  Moroccan bakeries are different, at least in the medina.  Families make their bread at home, and then have someone deliver it to the bakery, where they cook it. Homes do not have ovens.  In the afternoon, they send someone to pick it up.
 The girls at the co-op were very willing to show us up close and personal how they make rugs.  Their fingers move so fast - it's unreal.  I tried, and failed, several times.  
 The first of many rugs rolled out for our viewing pleasure after a traditional tea ceremony.
 This fine gentleman is an expert tea pourer.
 We stopped by a shop to watch how thread is spun from agave.  Yup, this scarf is made out of cactus!
 At the tanneries.  Here they take animal skins and dye them in the vats you seen in the background.  This was incredible to see, though I'm so happy they gave us all a sprig of mint at the beginning to combat the smell of rotting flesh :/
 I honestly have no idea what this door is all about.  I just thought it was gorgeous, and typical of what you see in the medina.
 Zaouia Moulay Idriss is where Moulay Idriss II, the founder of Fez is buried - he is the great-great-grandson of the Prophet.  
 Halid wanted me to photograph the men in the background killing chickens, but he said they wouldn't like me to take photos directly of them.  So, he stood with the sign I made to celebrate the Iron Bowl, with them in the background.  Cringe, smile, cringe again.
This kind sir was carving cedar wood.  I knew that cedar wood was durable and all, but it is on every single ancient structure I think we saw in the medina, and some of it dates back to the 9th century.  All of it in pretty amazing condition.  What an art!

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