If there is one place in Morocco that I’d describe as magical, it would be the ninth century Fes medina. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medina is home to the world’s first university, the largest mosque in Northern Africa, markets, shops, restaurants, schools, homes, souqs, schools and residences. It combines some of my most favourite things – architecture, food, shopping and a great place to wander/explore. Um, how cool would it be to live there?!
The busy streets are a dangerous place for wanderers like me, people who get caught up in their surroundings and just kind of wander aimlessly. With mules constantly passing by carrying loads of vegetables and other goods to sell in the market, chickens wandering freely (a whole new meaning to free-range chickens), and people (sometimes entire families) passing by on scooters, there was always something to look out for. Thankfully I was with a group so they could yell at me and save me from any potential accidents.
For the gourmand, this place was a tasty delight. Street meat galore. Tiny restaurants filled with smoke as they served up kebabs and tajines. Bakeries with amazing snacks. Cafes serving mint tea. Market vendors selling bags of snails. Camel heads hanging off the butchers’ stalls. Fresh local fruits and vegetables abounded. Mountains of course fresh dates and roasted nuts. Spices galore. It was HEAVEN. Well I didn’t exactly pick up a bag of snails and I had stopped for a camel burger in Meknes so I tried out the street food.
You can’t visit the Fes medina without speaking of the architecture and zellig. Not only of the mosques, Koranic schools and fountains but the place in general. The small flat-roofed buildings located in what seems like a maze of tiny streets.
At one point, as we passed through the narrow streets we could hear children counting excitedly to 15 in French. When we peaked our heads in we were surprised to find a tiny little one-room school with the most adorable little children and a sweet teacher at the front of the room. Now this was not a grand classroom, I could hardly stand up. And the constant noise from the outside environment, it’s a wonder the children could even concentrate. Though it was probably one of the sweetest little classrooms I’ve ever seen. Who says you must have heaps of educational toys and space for children. They seemed quite content in their classroom smaller than my tiny bachelor apartment.
Thankfully I made it out alive. No mules to run me over. And a guide to lead me back to my accommodations.