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Tue Feb 03 2015: Fes-ant and Pigeon Droppings

Our sightseeing tour of Fes continues with less ranting, more pictures:

It's all about the doors and gates in Morocco. Beautiful colours!

Cat silently begging for food outside a butcher stand. Unlike dogs who whine,
cats will stare a hole into your head until you feed them... Because they're evil.

More carpets means another mosque. So curious to see what's inside!

The women have a separate area in the mosque to pray

From being in Morocco for the last few days, we have noticed that there is a pronounced segregation between the men and women. From an early age, the girls and the boys congregate separately. Even with Morocco's moderate attitudes, I think it is still considered indecent for a woman to be seen in the company of a man that is not family or her husband.

Another neat shot I found on our camera. The blurring is natural and not photoshopped.
The donkey remains calm even amongst all the chaos surrounding it in the medina!
The storeowners and passerbys thought it quite funny that I was taking pictures of this donkey carrying supplies through the medina. The old city is crammed full of tourists, local shoppers, hustlers and storeowners. And this is on a weekday in the off-season! I can't imagine what it's like on a weekend in peak season!

One thing we have not mastered successfully in Morocco is the art of haggling. I am trying to pick up some tips here...

This artisan was carving the intricate patterns from memory with no template

Such amazing and precise artistry!

Looks like a shield! I was going to ask him if he could make me one coloured alternating red and white
with a star in the middle. Then I remembered where I was...

This is another place we wanted to visit: a leather tannery

There are many hustlers offering to lead us to the famous leather tanneries of Fes. They really don't need to offer up directions, you can smell the tanneries from a mile away. Just follow the pungent aroma of animal excrement. From a terrace which doubles as a leather store, you can watch workers toil away in large vats that look like ink pots from above. Except instead of ink that is used to dye the leather hides, the vats are filled with liquid pigments that are composed mainly of natural dyes, pigeon droppings and cow urine.

The payment for this terrace tour of the tannery is voluntary, but we are "strongly encouraged" to donate 10 dirham (€1) each, I think more for the sprig of mint that they give you to place under your nose as your walk around. Personally, I didn't find the smell too strong, but this is the Moroccan winter and I can't imagine what the odour must be like wafting up from those vats in the heat of summer!

The workers ensure that the animal skins were thoroughly soaked in pigeon poo!

After hearing the tour guide talk about what they used for dye, I didn't want to know which ingredient made yellow leather...

Worker scraping off excess flesh, fat and hair off the hides with a knife

Back in the medina, we try to get rid of the smell of pigeon poop out of our noses
by inhaling some Moroccan spices

Getting ready to leave Fes, we check the weather outside

Like a lovelorn teenager, the rains have managed to find us even after we've fled to another continent. :(
The restraining order doesn't seem to be working. Witness protection program is up next...

"When I say Hello Mrs. Thompson and press down on your foot, you smile and nod..."

One last shot of our bikes in front of one of the Babs (Chorfa). Bye Fes!

We leave Fes on a somewhat muted note. All the warnings of the hustlers that we have read about in Morocco seem to have come to fruition here. And to top it off, it's raining again.

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