Category: Morocco, 2019

In the Fes Medina

March 9

After breakfast, we go to shul. Since it’s Shabbat, I ask Younes to take us to the orthodox synagogue in the new city of Fes. Carol and I need to sit in separate sections, hers curtained off from the main sanctuary. We spend about twenty minutes there. The prayer book from which the service is conducted is entirely in Hebrew. As is always the case when I attend services in a synagogue in another country, I am moved by the experience of connecting with Jews around the world.

With Younes, we first drive above the Médina for a look at its expanse.

Younes takes us on a guided walking tour of Fes showcasing the alluring charm of the medina, the colorful streets and souks, the infamous tanneries

and the rich tapestry of life that exists within its ancient walls. Younes helps us get around easily through the over nine thousand alleys with blind turns, giving us an authentic look at the city that he loves, taking us into the depths of Fes to discover the culture and traditions hidden within the ancient walls.

It’s impossible to describe the variety of the medina, which encompasses centuries of culture and includes everything from shops of all types to a mosque and a univerisity where Moses Maimonides studied and taught in the late twelfth century. Here is a small sample of what we saw.

Below are photos of Carol with Muhamed, who sold us too much beautiful ceramics and Najib who sold us too many beautiful runners and of Noure (see below) who fed us too much food.

In the afternoon, we wander our way through the streets and souks with a local Fez food expert, Noureddine Chbani, “Noure”, who was born and grew up in the old Medina of Fez. He was granted with a scholarship to study at the American Language Center in 2009 for 4 years accomplishing all the levels.

 He wanted to enhance his skills and capacities by achieving a diploma in business accounting in 2012. His love and passion for the English language carried on with a BA in English Linguistics in 2014 at the University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in Fez.

 He started his career as an accounting assistant before following his heart and joining the Plan-it Morocco team to share his insight with travelers from all over the world of the local culture, extraordinary cuisine and explore the traditions of his fascinating homeland.  

 Noure is passionate about Moroccan cuisine – one of his favorite activities is to take clients on an adventure exploring the culinary world of the medina, where enticing aromas and mouthwatering foods are created from recipes handed down over generations.

 We start our food tour at the honey souk where we taste an array of more than a dozen delicious honeys, their flavors and properties and find out why honey is so important in Moroccan cooking and Islamic culture. From the honey souk, we visit other areas to try traditional Moroccan foods including dried meats, milawi, harsha, briwats, spicy sardines, and about ten fresh goat and sheep cheeses, finishing off with an array of sweets and then a visit to a traditional Moroccan tea house, where we are joined by two other of the young staff members of Plan-it Morocco (Meryem and Siham) and have a delightful hour with them in which we are able to ask questions about life, families, religion, women’s issues and politics. People, overall, seem quite-happy, and the King is widely-loved and admired.

Meryem Ameziane, who was born and raised in Fez, and received her Bachelor of Arts in English Studies at Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah in 2011.  She also trained at the American Language Center, teaching English as a second language.Meryem initially began her career teaching linguistics at Ecole Socrat before deciding that her love of her culture was something that she wanted to share with international guests, while continuing to practice her language skills and exchange cultural ideas. Meryem regularly volunteers with children during special festivals ,contributing and sourcing toys to distribute among families in need.

 Siham Lahmine received her Bachelor of Arts in English Studies on 2011 at Sidi Moha Siham Lahmine received her Bachelor of Arts in English Studies on 2011 at Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah in the city of Fez. She was the president of the Volunteering Association in the American Language Center for a year and then she worked as a facilitator at the Peace Corps, before her current position at Plan-it Morocco, where she has combined her love of culture and connecting guests to local people. She continues to volunteer at the Ziat Girls Center, helping underprivileged, marginalized girls to increase their life skills and re-integrate into the community.

Random thoughts.

Many well-camouflaged stairs in streets and buildings, often without rails, make walking quite dangerous. So far no missed or-missteps.

Many cats, actually kittens and/or small cats that are treated very well. Apparently, The Prophet liked cats (really).

Our driver Younes picks us up and drives us back to the riad, where we pack and have our bags taken down to the office. The two Youneses will pick them up later tonight, and drive them to Marrakech tomorrow, meeting us late afternoon at the airport when we fly in from Fes. We are far too full from our food tour to eat dinner, so Carol reads and I blog.



7 comments to In the Fes Medina

  • D.J. (Jan) Baker

    Spectacular, evocative pictures, and, as alway, a great running commentary on what you saw. And how breathtaking it must have been to have visited the university where Maimonides studied and taught while in Fez. Your blog posts and photos always convey an incredible sense of place.



  • leslie paul

    love it. so many of the same pictures i have… really loved it there.. sounds great.. ENJOY..

  • Kay Osborne

    Loving that you and Carol are having a great time. The photos transport you right there, K

  • Noreen

    What is Malawi? What is harsha?
    Noreen loves Moroccan food
    When you return would you like to join us at a Moroccan restaurant?

  • arnie

    We’d love to join you. At that time, we can sort out what the foods are.

  • Jean Zunkel

    I see you also love shopping.
    Wonderful photos

  • Wendy

    Pretty spectacular. Not only all the sights and tastes, but the company, too.

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