Just returned from three+ weeks traveling in Morocco, Spain and Portugal, and am trying to get back into the swing of writing my daily post. I have to admit it was nice having the break, but breaks are often hard to break themselves. I bought tons of postcards, mailed as many as I could and now have the task of sorting what I've purchased, and posting some of them on line.
The above is the Bab Boujloud, or "Blue Gate" in Fez, Morocco. It is one of the entrances to the Medina, or old walled city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Medina is considered the largest car free urban area in the world, and possibly among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world as well.
For a week, we went to and from this gate daily, as it is the closest entrance to the location of our friend's house where we stayed, about a five to ten minutes walk into the Medina. (See: Evelyn in Morocco for more views of her house - she rents the ocassional room to tourists if you are so inclined.)
Directly outside the door to her house is the neighborhood communal fountain (not all houses have running water), and as we came and went, we might see a woman washing dishes, a boy filling up containers with water, or a man washing his feet. Her "street" runs into one of the main food shopping streets in the Medina, Talaa Kbira, and we passed small shops selling everything from rose petals and medicinal herbs to camel meat and live chickens. One shopkeeper hung a camel head on a hook over his wares, either to communicate what was being sold, or to tweak the tourists, or both.
Staying in the Medina and experiencing daily life (although for a very short time, to be sure) is a completely different travel experience to staying in a fancy hotel and dipping into the Medina as part of a tour. Our daily life experience included lunch in the home of a Moroccan couple and tea in the home of our friend's husband's family, hanging out with a fun-loving and culture-promoting bunch of ex-pats and locals centered around Cafe Clock (where we had a day-long cooking lesson), awakening to the daily 5:30 AM calls to prayer, a visit to two police stations and a jail, drinking copious amounts of mint tea in Zacharia's cafe, singing and dancing while we sampled a variety of local music cd's in the cd shop (friend of our friend and her Moroccan husband), dodging the nightly garbage, avoiding the constant hustling for dollars, slogging through a lot of muck on a rainy day, and and and.
To be continued.....