Medina Menagerie: Old City of Fez, Morocco


Bright silk fabrics flap in the breeze, a henna artist paints designs on a young woman’s feet, and a small cafe serves harira soup (made of beans, lentils and cilantro) and lamb in beautifully crafted blue-and-green earthenware bowls. I had admired this colorful, extraordinarily crafted pottery earlier in roadside stands throughout Morocco.

At the end of our tour, we pass through a gate, suddenly leaving behind the sights and smells of the souk. After I thank our guide with the traditional greeting “chakran!” and press a fewdurhams into his hand, my mind continues to wander within those walls for the remainder of the afternoon.

As I glance one last time over my shoulder at the old city walls, I notice, for the first time, an abundance of television antennas on many rooftops. Many thousands of people live within these walls, with no extra room to breathe and no additional housing available. What to me has been an exotic visit is merely everyday life to its inhabitants.

While some in our group are thankful to see this highly sensory experience end, others are ready to reenter and spend a few extra hours reliving everything we have witnessed. As for me, I can’t help feeling as though I’ve been inducted into a secret society.

If You Go

Morocco Travel Guide