Friday, 20 February 2015

Fes

The almost-still-biblical city of Fes with its myriad winding alleys and and blind corners that remind one of above-ground tunnels, adobe wall construction, traditional way of doing so many things still intact, and UNESCO heritage status (and thankfully accompanying funding that allows the old part of the city to be restored in character to what it was back in the day), was to me the most interesting and remarkable urban centre to visit. Our guide (that we met at the Ibis Hotel right next to the train station where we were dropped off by the Grand Taxi) took us on a route through the ancient medina that included stops at all the artisan co-operatives in the city (of course), as well as places of historical significance and described or explained anything that we wanted to know about any part of the medina. The most striking piece of information he gave me was a number; of course I forget the exact number, but the impact of what he was explaining stays with me still. I was asking about the fountains-- slowly being reconstructed and re-tiled, (the interesting thing to note about these fountains is that they were part of the plan from the beginning--water supply and waste-water removal incorporated in the town structure from its inception), and at this particular one, I noticed that there was 1986 on one side and 14 000 (14 thousand something, I can't remember the exact number) inscribed in tiles on the other side of the fountain. Our Guide explained that this particular fountain was restored in 1986 according to the Gregorian calendar, but that according to the age of the original fountain, had been in place for over 14 000 years. This is an old, old city.

 Without Our Guide, we would not have made it out... or possibly into the medina unscathed... I would probably still be there now, trying to find my way!


I was saving all the awesome selfies for a later blog, but this one fits in here... we took a Grand Taxi from Meknes to Fes (and then another one back. Grand Taxis are used between cities and towns, rather than the Petit Taxis which are for in-town travel). Grand Taxis are fun because the driver always waits for a full vehicle before leaving (if you are in a hurry, you won't always leave when you want to)... so there are six people with all their bags and parcels crammed into the car-- this trip was about 1 1/2 hrs I think. On the return trip, we crammed SEVEN adults into the car... makes for quite a warm and intimate ride. I definitely recommend this sort of trip to everyone.


Gare de Fes...


...Blue Door of Fes. I appreciate how the modern buildings still keep the style of the old.


Annnd, here we go... narrow passageways, some busy, some not yet...



...stopping in front of the artisans who create the beautiful carved woodwork from the cedar trees. This craft is as old as Fes itself if not older, and there are only a few craftspersons left who have the skills and knowledge to work in this manner...



... 


Often people sell the beautiful doors or other decorative pieces that are centuries old to tourists for want of cash; these are harder and harder to come by in Fes, and restoration is much more difficult without these original pieces.


These are the hand-carved 'stalactites/stalagmites' that are later painted and used in archways.


A second wood-carving workspace.


Up one littelealley...



... through another...


Cedar ceiling-- carved and painted...


...scaffolding and continued repairs... thanks UNESCO!!



Even the ceiling 'grates' here are hand carved from cedar.












The intricacies of the workmanship and skill are amazing!

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