|The imam was early this morning- about 4.30am and shortly after we heard many male voiuces singing a repetitive haunting melody- believe it or not a soothing way to wake up and then drift off again. After a breakfast of bread jam coffee or very sweet mint tea we walked back down the hill to the bus station and eventually left Chefchouen on a packed bus for Fes. I really enjoyed Chefchouen and can see why it attracts so many people. We met an Australian girl who runs a shop in the medina- she married a Moroccan. The land seems very fertile- after coming through the Rif Mountains we entered large tracts ofploughed land -stacks of hay, the inevitable olive trees (many miles of nely planted trees as well), pomegranates, some cork trees. Around lunchtime we stopped at a cafe. We watched as a man inside the open kitchen took some meat out of the fridge, chopped it into chunks, then sprinkled it with spices and herbs and fed it through a mincer. He then pummled it into alarge mound, pulled a section off and put the rest back in the fridge. The pice he tore off he gave to the chef who then made small meatballs out of it and placed them in a wire container which sat on top of some hot coals. Within minutes they were ready and he put them in a large chunk of bread, wrapped it in paper and sold it to the waiting crowd. This looked pretty good to me and certainly smelt good, so up I went and ordered a couple of pieces, and minutes later after handing over a few dirhams we were munching lunch- delicious. On arrival in Fez we headed towards a Lonely Planet recommendation, and of course were soon picked up by another opportunist who led us thru the maze of alleys until we had look at several other options, eventually ending up at the one we had chose. In the meantime we got to know our young man, Drys, and he arranged to meet us later, after prayer, and take us to a good viewing rooftop, to wtahc a music festival. And thats what happened- we stayed up there for an hour os watching agreat procession below us- musicians, dancers, camels, horses and so on, until it wa time for dinner. The restaurants were down in the medina alleyways, so we chose one, and watched the world go by before exploring the shops- jewellers, patisseries, icecream shops, and one selling pigeons, ducks, rabbits and chooks- the latter being dispatched and plucked before selling to a customer-hmm.
Morocco is certainly cheaper than Spain and Portugal- accommodation in a budget pension is around $60 inlcusing breakfast, a meal of three courses $14 and a 4 hour bus ride about $11. Tomorrow we need to find a guide to take us on a tour of Southern Morocco and into the desert.
02 October. Breakfast on the roof terrace - flakey pancakes, sryup and mint tea. At 0900 Drys arrived with an official guide Mizzouzi- a 66 year old randy goat who gave uis the Fes tour of a lifetime. Everyone we passed knew him and he knew everyone. Impeccable english as well as german, french and spanish, and i dont know what else. We saw Schools, mosues, synagogues, herbal shops, agave and silk cloth factories, silver ware, the tannery, old gates, palaces, jewish medinas- you name it we saw it. Around 2pm we were seated in a beautiful riad turned into restaurant for a long elaborate lunch:
entrees of salsa, olives, potatoes cooked in sultanas and cinnamon, aubergine, coleslaw of cabbage and mint, mild chili, followed by Moroccans´speciality- pastilla- a flakey crisp pie filled with shredded chicken, almonds and spices covered with icing sugar, cinnamon, then fresh fruit, and lastly mint tea poured into glasses from ab tremendous height, and coconut cake- whew! A day full of laughs and much hilarity, and worth every dirham of the 300 he wanted. Wherever Mizzouzi went he hadned out coins- Friday is the main day off, and he gave to old people, blind people, and we got the history of Fez tied up with discussions about islam and all religions - what a day, but it hadnt finished. Around 6pm Drys turned upo and asked us to visit his home as he had something to show us, but he couldnt describe what it was so Brian and I went with him. On entering down some stairs we found ourselves in his neighbours home, and in the middle of what turned out to be the first day of a 3 day celebration as it was to be the circumcision of their 2 yr old son. The room was jampacked with women, and a band of singesr and musicians. With seconds we had a fruit drink and a sweet cake in our hands and we were taken to the end of the room where we watched the women dancing- what a sight, in the most beautiful jellabas and gowns, and what exotic dancers they werwe too. The wee boy was dressed in a dark green jellabah when we arrived and was soon redressed in a blue and white suyit with a gold necklace around his neck and a wee hat on his head. We finally tore ourselves away and drys took us upstairs to meet his mother and share a coffee and another sweet cake.
Back at the pension we met up with Imad, who was to be our driver´guide for the next 5 days. For 650 Euros he would take us to the desert, Todra Gorge, Ouazarte and drop us at Marrakech-very good value (we would pay for our own meals and accommodation).