Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Weekend in Fes

During our training we were lucky enough to get the weekend off. About 14 of us decided to go to Fes, which is considered the cultural capitol of Morocco and was the national capitol in the past. It is a perfect picture of Morocco, in my eyes, and being there I got the best taste of culture I had gotten so far. The architecture in the old city was so raw, intriguing, and different.
We arrived and found an inexpensive hotel where we dropped our backpacks off. We were lucky to get a very good price of only 50 Dh each person which is about 6 dollars. After this we made a trip over to Marjane, Morocco’s Wal-Mart, to get some snacks for the night. And of course pick up some things to drink, seeing as we were no longer in our training site. We walked around the old city for quite some time, getting lost in a narrow labyrinth of Moroccan rugs, lamps, and beautiful jewelry to buy. Moroccan made things are very fine quality and they are so beautiful I wanted to take everything home.
Fes is full of tourists from all over the world. This was the highest concentration of tourists I had ever seen in Morocco and despite what I thought I would feel, I felt different. I was expecting to be happy seeing a lot of people who look like me but I actually couldn’t stand it. The reason is that the Moroccan shop owners try to take advantage of tourists unaware of the culture and who can not understand the language. Even though I am not a tourist in this country they see me as just another American who has deep pockets. I didn’t like the feeling. The shop owners try to lour you into their stores and the moment you show the slightest interest in an item they eye you like a hawk. They tell you how wonderful their product is and how they have it in 3 other colors. The best way to combat this is start talking in Arabic and surprise them with your knowledge of their language.
Going to Fes was like walking into a fantasy. It really helped remind me that I am living in another culture and country. Morocco’s culture is such a rich one and I enjoyed being immersed in the medieval atmosphere and hearing music so different from what I hear at home. The colors are so vivid, as well as the smells, both good and bad!
It was great to take the opportunity to go to Fes with my friends and have an enjoyable cultural weekend.