24/11/89

Fes, Morocco.
The Jewish Cemetery, Fes.

After cold showers, Pete, Rob, Linda and I went out for a walk to change money and find the post office. After a run-in with one of the many wog dick-heads wanting to be our “official guide”, in which Rob smacked one around the head after he said “fuck off” to her, we found a bank and the PO then returned to the hotel.

Our real official guide, a guy called Good-one (!) was there and me, Mike, Scotty, Sale and Linda headed off in the truck for a tour of the city.

First stop was the Jewish Cemetary where the city’s large Jewish population bury their dead in tombs above ground. Across the road from there we looked at the magnificent gateway to the Royal Palace with its huge brass and copper doors set with mosaic tile patterns.

We then drove up to the hilltop lookout above the city where we had a magnificent view over Fez which was founded in the 9th century as a university teaching Islam and mathematics. The university, which we would visit later, is still teaching today and is the oldest working university in the world.

Baker, the Medina, Fes.

We entered the Medina via an arched gate and passed into another world. Steep, narrow cobblestoned passage, hemmed in by white-washed walls, led us deep into the mysterious walled city. We looked into a bakery where people bring their flat, round loaves of bread to be baked, and into a hotel/stable where traders from out of town can stay and house their horses or mules. Amongst the motley group of skinny and mis-treated horses, a sore-covered, skin-and-bone horse lay dying amid the rotting hay and evil-smelling mud. An apalling and pathetic sight.

The Dye Pits, Fes.

As we walked deeper into the city, through tunnels and small sqwuares, a tell-tale smell told us we were nearing the dye-pits. A dark corridor led us to a courtyrad where men wearing only shorts worked up to their knees in a series of concrete pits, stamping animal hides in brightly-coloured and foul-smelling liquids. We ascended a set of timbe stairs to a rooftop balcony where we looked down on the pits where 80 or so men worked knee-deep in the pits, kneading and tramping the leather.

Tanning Leather, Fes.

We bought raisins and nougat in the nearby bazaar and stopped to look through the oldest part of the university, now disused and empty.

Good-one left us for an hour in the government-run carpet shop where the friendly and jovial salesmen soon turned sour and tight-lipped when they realised that we weren’t interested in buying any of their carpets. Good-one himself was fairly sour as he led us back to the truck as his commission had disappeared!

Linda and I had lunch at a small cafe – a lovely meal of salad and tahine vegetables, then spent the rest of the day lounging around at the hotel.

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