Friday, August 15, 2008

Fez and the Local Guide...

Trying to get a decent night sleep, I was in bed by 9.30pm last night... I was dozing off peacefully when a peculiar noise arouses me from my slumber... It was the phone. Four shrill beeps sounded before I decided to answer it... and who was on the other end, none other than Mr Friendly from down at reception, checking to confirm whether I still wanted my local tour guide for tomorrow to take me around the Medina. After replying that yes, I did still want the tour guide, I crept back under the covers.. only to hear the phone ring again about 30 seconds later. This time, Mr Friendly asked if I was asleep to which I felt like saying 'yeah which is why I'm talking to you now, dickhead' but I kept that to myself. He then proceeded to ask if I wanted to come downstairs because the guide was there now to meet me so I would recognise his face tomorrow - seriously, what is wrong with the people of Fez? I didn't know how to say 'no, I'm not coming down wanker' nicely so I chucked on some clothes and went down stairs to meet the guide...

By the time I got back to bed I was fired up at the stupidity of the whole of Fez and it took me ages to get to sleep. I finally awoke the next morning and got ready to meet my tour guide who proceeded to tell me I was five minutes late... they have issues with lateness apparently.

My tour guide - well, I real wish I had the skill to adequately explain what a creepy guy he was. He took me down all these strange, dark and narrow alley ways that kept twisting and turning like a giant maze. From time to time we popped up in 'civilization' which basically meant more people which reassured me that he was not going to get me completely and utterly lost... He smoked like a chimney and after his ninth cigarette (in an hour) he asked me if I minded if he smoked... I actually found his smoking quite amusing because he smoked and then he had to stop and catch his breath while he coughed up his lungs before pretending that he had stopped to explain a part of the Medina. He in himself was actually worth the money because he was so amusing - okay, so I was laughing at his ailments and not his running commentary but nevertheless, humorous. I found myself pretending to understand what he was saying because he was talking so fast and so unclearly I really had no idea. It was like he was speaking another language but chucking a few words of English in there in-between. He kept telling me how everyone in Fez is crazy... 'ooo they smoke shisha and hash of the night' he kept saying. Morocco is a muslim country and people aren't meant to smoke... hmm.. anyways, he kept pointing out 'crazy' people to me and by the end of the tour I think all he wanted to do was get home so he could have his hit of hash!

He took me to some great places in the Medina though and I am grateful that I had a guide because there is no way I'd have felt safe walking around there on my own. Also, it was so big that I would have gotten lost and I was not in the mood to be harassed by people trying to sell me things. I heard so many 'ooo so beautiful' and 'oooo nice' that I felt like smacking someone.

The main thing I wanted to see was the leather tanning and I had thought that was out of Fez but it was actually in the Medina so he took me to two leather tanning places. The first one we went to, a man explained how the leather was made. It was really interesting but I never want anything leather. Yuk. First, they kill the sheep and then they sell the meat. They take the skin off and then take it to the leather tanning pots.I can't exactly remember what happens next but I think they then take the wool off the sheep and they wash and dry it and use this wool to fill doonas and pillows, etc. They only use live wool to make clothes. Once they've pulled off the wool they put the skin into a bath of water with limestone and pigeon poo. Apparently this takes away all the dirt from the skin... it stays there for 25 days before they take the skin and put it into a huge wooden 'washing machine'. They fill it with water and leave the leather in there for 3 hours, changing the water every hour to make sure it is clean. Once they have done this, the leather then goes into a coloured tanning pot which they leave in there also for 25 days. It was interesting to discover the methods they use to create the colours. I can't exactly remember exactly but they use different spices to create the different colours. I can't remember the different spices that are used to make the different colours but I am pretty sure saffron creates red, mint creates green... I am not sure of other colours. He rattled them off too fast for me to remember. They then take the leather out of the pots, let it dry and then make bags, shoes, belts, etc with it.

We went to a carpet weaving house - again - and saw how they made carpets in Fez. Once again, quite interesting. The women move their fingers so fast and I am surprised they don't have huge blisters on their fingers. It must be painful. I was shown a gorgeous carpet made of silk and it was so pretty and because I said it was pretty I was trying to be pressured to buy it. Pfft, as if I can afford $2500 for a carpet! The carpet man said that the wool they use is imported from Australia because our government helps Morocco. He said that our wool is supplied on the condition that no young children are allowed to work or make the carpets. Apparently an Australian official comes every six months to check that this regulation is abided by.

The smell of the Medina was not pleasing. I found that it stunk like rotting food and the smell from the tanning pots was not nice. However, occasionally I caught a whiff of orange juice which was nice. Donkeys were loaded with so much stock and guided through the Medina, there were stalls with fresh fruit which I eyed off enviously because a peach, nectarine and banana sound so good to eat! I am sick of meat because it feels that is all I have been eating. I don't like being stuck to a menu even though the food is nice, all I really want is a nice, big, leafy salad with vermicelli rice noodles and tuna.

Oh, I am now in my new hotel which I was promised air conditioning. When I was shown a room yesterday it had air con... but, when I was give my room today - no air con. I am pissed off but I can't be bothered complaining. I really have not enjoyed Fez so much which is disappointing, but I am happy that I got to see the leather tanning pots. That was pretty much the only reason I wanted to come to Fez. I have found the people here to be rude and not very helpful. Still, Spain tomorrow and I am excited about that...

No comments: