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  • Writer's pictureErin Paulsen

Magical Morocco pt. 2

Updated: Jul 9, 2020





It was time to leave the Southern Moroccan desert and make the long journey North on our way to Chefchaouen. We started the journey via night bus from the small town of Zagora and headed back up through Marrakech. Again we had to traverse the winding mountain roads across the Atlas and let me tell you, I did not even blink my eyes once in fear of falling off the edge of a cliff in the dead of night. I spent the entire agonizing 8-hour ride clenching my jaw, eyes wide open, wondering how the driver thought it was in any way a good idea to be flying down shifty gravel mountain roads at (what seemed like) 100 km/hr. Maybe he was thinking "I do this every night, I know every turn and bend on this mountain range". Or maybe "This job sucks get me out of this stupid bus as quickly as possible". I'll never know, but let me just tell you I'll be glad to never night-bus that route ever again. We did (by the grace of God) make it safely to Marrakech around 5 am and were conveniently dropped off right at the gates of the train station, where we were to catch another ride further North to our next stop, Fez. Our train compartment was completely full, and the young companions we started the journey out with were slowly replaced with older and older passengers at each stop.




Morocco's landscape is endlessly diverse and despite my sleep-deprived state, I couldn't help but watch the countryside pass by for the remainder of our journey. Dry, dusty terrain, vast green fields full of citrus trees, damp surrounding forests, slowly giving way to rolling hills... Morocco has it all. We arrived in Fez and mentally prepared ourselves for the hassle of haggling with the taxi drivers.

Our tactic was to look up the distance to our location on Google maps, and sort of cross-reference fares we've paid previously to go the same distance and decide on the rate we are willing to pay. When the first taxi driver approached us, we prepared ourselves for the bargaining, but much to our surprise, he offered us a rate much lower than we were about to even ask for.


Win.


A quick ride through what I'll call New Fez led us to the massive medina walls surrounding Old Fez.





The arched entranceways were giant, towering things, but beautifully inviting. We crossed through to the narrow winding walkways inside the old medina walls and stumbled our way through the masses in search of our guesthouse. It was very cozily tucked away down a back alley off the main road from the gates, and upon entering the residence, found it was just as dark and quaint inside as the pathway to the entrance had been.





We had arrived pretty early in the day, and after freshening up grabbed some lunch of couscous or tajin (can't remember which one, because we really only ate these two things for every meal), and set off into the heart of the medina.

This place was massive, and after a turn or two down random alley streets, we were totally lost.







We were looking for the tanneries, which I believe are one of the main attractions within the medina, but it took us forever to find them. There were usually people about who wanted to 'help' us... but we never really knew if they were actually helping or playing the famous Moroccan medina game of 'This road is closed".


We never really understood this game, but it happened everywhere.


While walking down any given road, as you are about to round a corner, some local boy will try to convince you that said road is closed, and sometimes try to offer his services to lead you to your destination by another path. These 'closed' roads were never actually closed, and often the boys telling you that they were, just ran away after making their claim. It made no sense at all.


After stumbling around these dark alleys, we did eventually make it to a row of shops that provided lookout views over the smelly tannery courtyards, but much to our disappointment were not all that lovely to see.





There were a few other stops we wanted to make through the medina but no matter where we were trying to go, we could not for the life of us find the location, or if we managed to, realized there wasn't actually much to see because everything was so jam-packed all together, you couldn't really get any idea of the place.



Slowly making our way back to the guesthouse that evening, we stopped at a rooftop café for some lemonade and got a pretty impressive view over the top of the medina.





Did I mention that the place was massive??


We were really only in Fez for one night, using it as a stopover on our way up to Chefchaouen.



The next morning we were up bright and early again to hop on a bus that would take us to the enchanting Blue City.

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