Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 5: Fes-Moulay Yacoub

The view from the terrace restaurant in the Old Medina

Our driver - rashid, whom I dubbed, alternately as Fred (common name in Islam) or Geoff (as in Wake up Geoff from the wiggles); and our guide, the only female guide in Morocco, the lovely Atika

A water seller in the markets. They carry a goat skin bladder around the alleyways, with brass cups on this distinctive red outfit. I couldn't catch the front of him, and if I did, I needed 1 Dirham which I didn't have handy, so you'll just have to imagine what he looks like!

In one of the wider parts of the Souk in the old Medina. The boy caught us just around the corner from here.

Inside one of the souks in the medina - a huge contrast from the exterior. This one sold blue mosaic pottery and the house dates back to the 17th century.

The scenery at Moulay Yacoub

Photos were taken from a speeding vehicle - pretty happy with camera performance!

We drove to nearby spa village of Moulay Yacoub situated amongst towering hills. Here we enjoyed a swim in the old thermal baths where water spouted from a small fountain at about 45degrees celcius. We were shepherded by the staff into the mixed bathing area (there is also one for just the women, which we would have preferred) so became the entertainment for a few local men, who were a bit cheeky when they “accidentally’ swam into us,. Apparently, just touching us (I really didn’t notice it and didn’t take offenc) is a sign of a alck of respect. Well, it’s their problem ,not mine.

Three of us returned to Fes , to the old medina, where I bought my Fes (I collect hats on overseas trips). We got lost following a small boy (”What you want? Where you like to go?”) who picked us up like the inexperienced tourists we were, in the only broad square in the medina where the Bath house we sought was closed to women in the afternoon. He lead us on a merry dance to find a traditional Hammam (Moroccan body scrub/shower) which we were determined to have, being disappointed that the morning spa didn’t offer one. When the chase (he walked very fast – Yalla! Yalla!) lead us into a dark alley way and an anonymous doorway where he promised a hammam was to be had, we backed out past the gathered youths, deciding that this was not a place to bear our bodies and scrub. Of course he followed us, offering another bath house, but I paid him two Dirham (the going rate is one) for the entertainment he provided and told him to make sure he went to school. He asked for 5 euro and when I laughed, he hassled one of the other girls, eventually telling her to “F off!” (His English is very good!).

Shoma! Shama! (Shame on you) surprised him, bt I think he went back to the square to find some other tourists.

We then followed an excruciatingly slow tour group of seniors who had been speaking English, hoping to see if their guide could recommend a bath house. We accidentally walked out of the Medina, and decided this was a sign to follow, so took a mini cab back to the hotel and took a quick Swim in the pool. I was finally able to have a Hammam in the inn where we stayed,. It consists of stripping down and laying on heated granite slabs, where warm water is thrown on the skin (back and front) with buckets held by a dedicated very wet, therapist, who then scrubs the body with a loofah in a very vigorous manner. Somewhere in there, a sweet smelling brown paste is applied, the hair is washed, and the body moisturised. I highly recommend it!

We then went back to the old Medina and ate a traditional meal on a rooftop terrace, entertained by the ubiquitous cats and the activity of the medina below.

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