Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fes-a-licious (It's hooooooooot)

Fes is the third largest city in Morocco and as one of the imperial cities it also boasts the biggest and best medina in the country. It's beautiful and clean (by Moroccan standards mind you) with an almost European feel to it. But the most important thing that you need to know..... it's hoooooooooot (said in the best whiny kid voice you can muster). Last July we went to Moab, Utah. The thing that Moab and Fes have in common.....summer temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It seems as though we have bad timing with summertime destination choices.

So our journey starts in the medina. It's all pedestrian, unlike Rabat where you can get run over by a moped or car in the medina. In Fes it's not the vehicles that will run you over, but the livestock. Since there are no cars or trucks, but tons of merchandise in the medina something needs to get it there. Those somethings would be horses, donkeys, mules (wait...what's the difference between a donkey and a mule anyway) and cows. This adds a new obstacle to medina navigating. Keep 4 kids moving in the same direction and not being fondled/kissed by strangers for their unavoidable blondness and avoiding stepping in massive amounts of poo that line the narrow, hilly medina alleys. I was waiting for a new challenge to make medina-ing more fun and rewarding. I'm glad I have one. So after our short trip to the medina and several choruses of "it's hoooooooooot"and seeing the historic Jewish cemetery with a guide, we head to the hotel to cool off.

Now other than getting kissed in the medina, my kids biggest fear (running a close second with the world running out of candy) is BEES. So guess that is surrounding the pool on all sides? BEES! Lots of them. Now for some reason my kids think the bees here are African Killer Bees. I have no idea where this came from, perhaps a little too much Animal Planet. At any event, the kids are cowering and waving them away simultaneously. And finally it's so freakin' hot and the pool is just too inviting they dive in. So final score Pool 1, Bees 0. I always hope that my kids will get exhausted and wear themselves out. As they get older I think they get more reserves and they can go for hours in the pool, just don't run out of food to keep them going. Today it's perfect though 'cause it's just too hot to do anything else. They are happy for the moment. Life is good.

Dinner is at the infamous Cafe Clock in Fes. It's run by a British gentleman and offers some "regular" cafe food. It boasts chicken caesar salad (tough to come by in these parts as you may imagine), but we have come for the camel burger. Mmmmmmmm....camel burger. It's weird to think that we rode on camels in Marrakesh and are now eating them. Something seems so wrong about that. But I'm really hungry and this particular camel tastes pretty good. So sorry....I hope you had a good life traversing the sand dunes somewhere roaming free before you were brutally murdered and put on my plate. However, I fear you probably were one of those poor camels enslaved to a life of carrying tourists on your backs with kids that poke and prod you, flashbulbs blinding your eyes and of course everyone asking if you spit and laughing in your face (hope you got the last laugh on that one by the way). Loerzels 6, Camel 0. My deepest sympathies dear camel.

Day 2. Medina in the morning. It's already getting hot, so we figure we have to get our exploring done now and be back poolside in the afternoon. So we head into the part of the medina that has the tanneries. It's totally cool there are big open pits where they clean the leather, flat ledges where they dry it and lots more pits filled with color where they dye them. It's totally cool and totally stinky. They give you mint leaves upon entering to help with the smell. It only makes it smell like Tom's toothpaste mixed with tannery stench. But, I'm glad I know where to go if I ever decide to take a fashion risk on a fuchsia leather fringed jacket. After we escape the tannery, we meander the medina a bit more before....... we're totally lost. There are alleyways everywhere and as it approaches mid-day there are more and more people filling them. It's getting hotter and hotter and we're trying to plot a course to get the heck out of there. We have the kids by the back of their shirts making a human chain. This only works for so long until you have to dodge a cow or that fresh steaming pile of cow remnants and you have to re-establish that you indeed have sight of all 4 kids and get your hands on them before the blondtourage do. After circling the same loop several times and asking directions several times we're finally on the way out to the car and to the hotel and the bees.

Dinnertime comes and we head to a roof top restaurant called La Kasbah De Fes and park ourselves on the terrace with a great view of the medina. The day was so hot, it still hasn't cooled off, so unfortunately the rooftopness of it offers no breeze. Thankfully there is a sink on the same level and the kids are cupping water and pouring it over their heads to stay cool. Ember can barely keep her eyes open because she has heat exhaustion. We drink a few liters of water with dinner, to try to stay hydrated. And yeah, we ate some tagine moroccan bread and lentils. It was all good, but it was a mad dash to get back to the hotel where they had some slight air conditioning.

The next day we check out of the hotel and head to Volubilis, the site of ruins from the Roman Empire, on the way home trying to beat the heat. They are impressive. Alot of the tiled floors are still intact and the bases of pools and fountains. Sky is especially into this. Then we come to the house of dog where carved in marble an ancient and huge carving of a penis. And no I didn't make up that it was in the house of dog.....seriously! The only kid that recognizes what it even is is Jade. I'm glad that my kids could witness this. We are giving them the kinda culture that only Africa (or any porn shop anywhere in the world could provide). Our kids will be enriched by this ancient penis artifact somehow I just know it.
We return home better people for our travels. I'm sure of it. And the very next day Ember gets stung twice by one of those crazy African Killer Bees. In her mind it was anyway. Important lesson learned: Do not travel within Africa in the summer. It's hoooooooot!!! So I'm thinking Italy in August... Europe has got to be cooler than Africa right?

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