Day 32 Photos from Fes

Ah, Fes…the most interesting and most cultural part of my trek across Morocco.  Fes is the city where Driss is from. 

Me & Driss

In many tour guide books, it says that tourists should NOT tour the Arabic medina.  It is forbidden.  They are only allowed to visit the French and New Medinas, but not the Arabic medinas.

Want to know why…I mean, really know why it’s forbidden?  Because you’d get lost in the medina if you went by yourself.  You need a guide to lead you through the gigantic Arabic medina. 

We went up to a mountaintop so I could take a panoramic photo of the medina…it was so gigantic that I couldn’t fit the entire medina into one shot.

The medina is just one huge maze.  You have to be from there in order to know how to navigate the medina.  Not all stores are at street level.  The tanneries are hidden away.  The rug markets are hidden inside houses with security at the door.  They don’t let just anyone into their homes to view the rugs…unless you have a guide that knows the owners.

Even the restaurants are hidden away in cubby holes that you wouldn’t even know to look into…thinking it was someone’s home, until you walk in and see that it is a restaurant.  There are no signs leading you to anything.  You just have to know where you are going.  If you don’t…well, that’s why it’s forbidden.  You don’t want to take your chances at getting lost in this kind of medina.  It really is a gigantic maze.

In the house filled with rugs, I was surprised to find that the home was so big inside.  There were a good 3 floors…and the rooftop gives you a good look at the medina from the center.  Riads are gorgeous with their many rooms and courtyard in the middle.

At Dar Benhayoune, Ben Kabbou, the owner of the rug shop invited me into a large room where we sat and had drinks (at this time of day, water was the perfect drink to have).  He explained that this large riad kept cool through the summer thanks to all of the tiles.  There is no need for air conditioning.  The tiles throughout the entire home keeps it cool (something for homeowners to think about as far as cutting costs in their homes).  In the winter, they move the rooms down to the lower levels, closer to the fires and the kitchens. 

Ben and I talked a lot about books and spirituality.  It’s funny, because we have a love for classical literature.  He was surprised that I had read so many of the same old books that he had.  He was even more surprised by my spiritual knowledge…and I’m not even Muslim. 

After he had one of the men show me 30 different rugs, I decided on a small one to take back to the States.  I think the cat loves that new rug.  I wake up in the middle of the night to see her stretched out on that Berber rug. 

The Berber rugs are made by the women of one of the local Berber tribes.  This shop sells only rugs made by women…and the money goes to help those women. 

Each time I look at the rug I purchased, I think of the Berber woman who made the rug…and can’t help but say thanks for making something so beautiful that now graces my home, enjoyed by both me and the cat (who loves it more than I do)…it’s a piece of Morocco in my home.

After Ben and I wrapped up the transaction, we continued to talk a little while longer.  He told me as we headed back downstairs, “If I could describe how I’ve fallen in love with you, they would have to cut out my heart to bleed out all of the reasons why.”  I love that about the men of Morocco!  So poetic, so passionate, and so open to love.

{If you’re interested in buying a rug (lots of different styles from Arabic to Berber), email:}

After we headed out of the rug shop, we headed to the tanneries (in the slideshow, it’s the large circular clay containers with different colors and men standing in them).  Now, I thought I would see things that would gross me out, but no…just the finished product.  I didn’t even see the women that do the sewing and design the intricate patterns onto the leather.  I only saw the men dyeing the hides of the animals…and yes, the stench is so disgusting. 

They hand you a piece of mint to smell when the odor gets too horrendous. 

At Terrasse de Tannerie, I picked up a purse for my friend and two poufs for my living room.  Now, I’m a big fan of the poufs.  Driss told me that you don’t have to stuff the poufs with cotton, etc.  He told me to just use it as extra storage.  Put old clothes or blankets in it.  What a novel idea.  I rotated my wardrobe when I got back home and put all of the summer clothes into the poufs.  What shocks me is that my entire summer wardrobe actually fit into both of the poufs.  It was definitely a much more decorative way to store my clothing…and not throw them into plastic containers or bags like I have the last however many years.

Now, I had to bargain in ways that you can’t believe to get the cost of the 2 poufs and the bag down to $300.  They originally quoted me $780.  I talked them down to a little under $300…with the promise I would do a writeup (obligation fulfilled). 

There are so many things to choose from at the Terrasse de Tannerie.  Even if it’s just to get that shot of the coloring pits, for me, they had so many purses…I almost fainted at the number…and then trying not to buy one for myself (purses are my fetish)…that took every single ounce of me not to buy a huge leather bag.  The poufs were more important.

Now, you may think that $300 for a leather bag and 2 poufs are expensive.  Well, I came back and saw that on, they had the exact leather poufs from that same tannery up for sale…price tag for each pouf at 50% off was $224 each.  Trust me, I got a deal.  Thanks to the owner, El Haj Ali Baba for bending to such a deal…and thank you for the gift of a leather coin purse.  I love it! 

After we headed out of the tannery, we stopped into Tisserand de Fes, a cloth store where the men hand make scarves, blankets, caftans, curtains, etc.  The work is magnificent.  I bought a scarf for my friend (who loves it so much, she now wears it everyday), a beautiful blue silk blanket with velvet (the cat loves it so much…she’s already sold on Morocco…I’m not saying the word ‘quarantine’ to her yet), and a tunic shirt for myself.

Now, there’s a picture I accidentally put up on Facebook of myself in a full caftan.  I joke that this is what the hubby would want me to wear, but after putting it on, I told the guys…it’s not me.  I just can’t wear it.  The men (even the ones in NY) keep telling me how lovely I look in it.  Literally…it’s a house dress…not the type you go out in!  HAHA.

I bought a tunic top, because it suited me better than a full caftan.  Hamid wears the full caftan with pants underneath, but if he can talk me into wearing one…good luck to him.  I will probably only bend to wearing one on special occasions.  Every day…I’ll stick to wearing jersey pants and tanks at home. 

The owner of the shop and the guy helping me find something to buy, they’re the two guys in the slideshow with a big grin on their faces in front of all of the caftans.  I know that I will have to buy one to enter a mosque…but then I haven’t fully decided to become Muslim yet (all depends on if the court demands it in order to adopt the little boy from Rabat…then I’ll do it for that little boy).

After we left the medina, we headed to the potters.  I find their shop to be so intriguing.  I was told not to talk to the women while I was there.  How odd is that, right?  I was only allowed to speak to the men.  Why?  They didn’t want me giving the women any ideas.  Wow, right? 

The women are generally separated from the men while working at the potters, but I did find one room where both men and women paint designs onto the pottery.  It was pretty amazing to watch how accurate and fast they are.  Everything is hand painted.  No machines. 

The one that intrigued me the most was how they create the designs on the tiles.  The tile is completely painted in one color and then a man uses some tools to scrape off the paint with a design.  It happens so quickly, you can’t help but be mesmerized at how all of these artists can work so quickly to create such beautiful tiles and pottery.

I bought a few small dishes to put soaps and jewelry in.  I gave one dish to my friend (who loved it).  I know that when I design my new home in Morocco…I’ll be going to them for the tiles, fountains, and pottery.  They are a co-op, so all prices are fixed…but they did give me a discount (which was also nice). 

The owner is the man in the shop with his arm around me.  You can take a look around at some of their wares at Art Naji.  They have so many things and ship all over the world.  If you’re looking for something specific (tables, tableware, etc.), you can also email the director Naji Fakhari at  They will make it to your specifications (color, etc.).

So back to the part where I’m not supposed to talk to the women…I was not allowed to talk to the women in Morocco.  The men would speak to the women for me, but I was not supposed to talk to them directly.  Odd, right?  I was considered equal to all of the men I came across.  Some men treated me as if I was more important than they were (i.e. they’re the servant, I’m the master).  But for the most part, the men treated me as their equal, and sometimes better than them.

What distinguishes that ‘better than them’?  Not attitude…MONEY.  It’s very rare for men to see a woman who has money…and it’s her money, not the family’s money, not her husband’s money…her money.  Driss had to keep telling me to stop tipping so much. My response was, I was tipping them what I thought he deserved.  10-50 dirham suffices.  100 dirham and they’re saying…it’s too much.  The way I look at it…they need the money more than I do.

It’s money that keeps me on equal footing with the men of Morocco.  They didn’t want me to encourage their women to believe that they could be like me…single, with a lot of money.  In their culture, the men make the money, some women work, but it’s to sell their wares and crafts.  It’s very rare that a woman owns her own riad, like the woman in Marrakech.  But I believe she either was able to do that because her husband had died or she got a lot of money in a divorce.  Either way, she was given more than enough money to run two five star riad hotels.

Driss had mentioned to me that I should do the same when I move to Morocco.  It would provide income for me, because as a woman, it would be hard to maintain my lifestyle and a career…especially if things didn’t work out between me and the nomad…or I just plain outright decided I wasn’t getting married.  Besides…I’d rather just buy a riad out by the sand dunes and have Hamid run it for me.  I’ll go do my own thing…like write, take photos and manage the household.

There are so many possibilities.  Hopefully we’ll finalize all of those possibilities in April when we take one last look around before I make any final decisions.  This will be my last look around Morocco before I decide where I’m buying a home.  Right now, Ouarzazate may be getting the nod…but then part of me likes the idea of living by the ocean.  So we’ll see what part of Morocco says…LIVE HERE…that isn’t the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert.  I need water and electricity.  Sahara can’t give that to me…YET. 

At any rate, here are the photos from Fes, Morocco…next set of pics will be our trip to the Sahara Desert.  And, of course, the Sahara…

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