After almost missing my flight out of Barcelona, I was finally on a plane getting ready to embark on this short 2 hour flight to Fes, Morocco. Sitting on this plane I could hardly contain myself! I couldn’t believe I was actually heading to Africa! Prior to leaving Barcelona I had no connections here in Fes, I had emailed a hostel through hostel world and they ensured me to not worry, someone would be at the airport to pick me up to bring me to the village. When I first walked off the plane, the culture shock hit instantly and hard. All of a sudden I was the one that stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone was dressed in Muslim attire (ex. Burqas, Hijabs, Khimars etc.) except for two other people who looked like foreigners also. After walking around the airport lost for a couple minutes I found an older Muslim man holding a sign with my name on it. I walked up to him, he spoke absolutely no English, but I simply followed him anyways because what the fuck else was I going to do.
After a long 30 silent, sweaty, and terrifying ride I arrived at the hostel. When I arrived to the hostel everybody was so nice and welcoming. To be honest I kind of wished I wouldn’t have been so scared in the back of that guys cab because by the time I walked into the hostel all I wanted to do was sleep! A couple of the backpackers that were there showed me around the place and explained to me that we were staying in a Riad, a traditional Moroccan home that has a courtyard or garden in the middle! They are the most beautiful thing ever! After getting a tour and meeting the others who were from Canada, Germany, Australia, and Tunis, I decided to call it a night. The following morning I woke up and after being served breakfast a group of us made our way out to go and explore the city. Not long after leaving the Riad, we were approached by man named Mohammed who said he would love to give us a long tour through his village for a small fee. After discussing it over he agreed to walk all 6 of us through Fes for only 100 MAD, which is equivalent to 10 USD. The first place he took us was through the Old Medina or the Old City, which was built in the early 9th century. Fes, Morocco as a whole is one of the best-preseved historical medieval towns in the Arab-muslim world. The village itself has over 170 mosques and over 9,700 small streets, so it is extremely easy to lose track of direction. After continuing our tour through the Old Medina checking out the local shops, cuisine, and rug shops we started making our way back to the riad for dinner.
On the way back to the riad we stumbled across a group of kids who wanted to talk to us, but they only spoke Spanish, French, and Arabic. Luckily I am able to speak Spanish, so I stopped and talked to them for a couple minutes as they all asked a million questions about America. After chopping it up for a bit one of the kids asked me for some of my water. I gave him my bottle and told him he could have it. Out of nowhere all ten of the kids started fighting over the 1 water bottle. I walked down the hill bought a couple and went back to hand them each their own. After spending a good chunk of time there, we finished the trek back to the hostel and had dinner.
As the night went on we sat in the riad playing board games and learning all about one another and the places we come from. I also started swiping on Tinder, you know to see whats around ahaha and not long after I recieved a match. It was this girl named Zehra, who is from Fes and was looking to connect with other travellers because she is running her own business. Zehra, owns a beautiful riad right outside of the Old Medina and rents the rooms out as an Airbnb. After exchanging some messages I agreed to leave the hostel in the morning and come check her place out. Granted once again I was scared because I was going to meet up someone off the internet……that I’ve messeged 10 times maybe….. in Africa!!!! I don’t know what I was thinking, but I went for it! I hopped into a taxi and made my way to the address she had given me. When arrived to this part of the village I was immediatley shocked. It was so much more different then where I had just came from. You could tell only locals lived and visited this area. I got lost and luckily asked some children, who were so eager to come up and talk to me if they knew where this address was. These sweet kids took me right to the front door, where I was greeted by Zehra and Issmael. When I walked in to this riad, man was I impressed! I had never seen something so beautiful in my life. The layout of the riad was all knew to me and I absolutely fell in love with the architecture and the way the rooms were layed out. Lucky enough when I walked in Zehra had just recieved a couple from Utah (Kip and Kim), which was awesome because I hadn’t been around any Americans in over a month! Kim and Kip are both incredibly cool people with some amazing stories. Kip works for a non-profit rescuing elephants from camps where they are being tortured, which I think is pretty fucking cool! Anyways we all got along extremely well, so we decided to hit the village together and do some site seeing. We visited a couple of the tanneries and seen how they made some of the local spices before heading back to the riad to enjoy the night. When we arrived back we asked Zehra if there was anyway we could get alcohol because we couldn’t find it anywhere. She told us of one store and decided she’d come with us because it was a bit far and she was worried we would get scammed. Anyways we busted this mission between two cabs because they would only allow two people per cab. We picked up some cheap ass wine and some beer then headed back to the riad. We got a little drunk and had some good conversations before calling it a night. The following day Zehra said she wanted to take us all to see the blue gate and the kings palace, as well as the Jewish side of town. I told her I was all in for it, but I had to go to the bus station to buy my ticket to Merzouga, which is a small village touching the Sahara Desert. On my way back from the bus station the cab dropped me off about two blocks away from the riad like it has the entire time. As soon as I got out of the cab these 3 little girls and 1 boy started following me and taking pictures of me. Pulling up my shirt and saying “you in movie!, you in movie!” They followed me all the way to the riad and kept taking pictures with me up until Kip opened the door. He started laughing and said “wtf is happening” explained the whole situation to him and he thought it was hilarious! I actually felt what it feels like to be famous…….. and it feels weird lol After we stopped talking about what just happened, we headed out on Zehra’s magnificent tour. After viewing some of these sites, she took us to her favorite restaraunt and showed us many of her favorite local desserts. After stuffing our faces we continued to walk through the markets, as Kip and Kim would barter every time we walk by someone selling tile pieces because they had a bathroom project back home they needed tiles for. After having such a great time with this fabulous group of people, I started to give shit to Kip and Kim on how they came all the way to Morocco and did not visit the Sahara desert. I was heading to the desert tomorrow morning to meet up with some connections Zehra gave me, but I really wanted Kip and Kim to come with me because I enjoyed their company and wanted to experience this with others. They told me they couldn’t make it because they had a flight to Paris in two days where they will be celebrating their anniversary. That was understandable so we just throw a couple more back and enjoyed the last night we had together !