The second city that we visited in Morocco was Fes (فاس). While it was definitely beautiful, Fes is probably my least favorite of the cities that we went to. There was a variety of things that unfortunately put it on the bottom of my list (getting sick, for example), but even with all of the negatives, Fes was still a wonderful experience! Being my least favorite thing in Morocco doesn’t really mean much, because it’s still one of the best places that I’ve ever gotten to experience.
Because I hadn’t been feeling well, I didn’t get a chance to see much other than what we visited on our tours. What I saw of the city’s architecture was astonishing, especially the palace doors – pictured here. The medina was really neat to visit, but with twenty five students and very narrow roads, it was a pretty claustrophobic experience. There were donkeys everywhere though, working hard and looking adorable. It was really fun to see all of the animals because we didn’t see very many while we were in Rabat.
While we were in Fes, we visited a ceramics shop where we were shown how the beautiful pottery of Fes is made. Our tour guide took us to each station, explaining it all to us. We watched the materials get cut and formed. It’s all made of a special clay only found in Morocco and painted with natural colors. The patterns that the artists were painting onto the the pottery and piecing together into mosaics were some of the most amazing artwork that I’ve ever seen. Watching the artists in action was also fascinating, because they make everything look so easy! I can’t imagine the amount of time and effort they’ve put into perfecting their art. It definitely shows in the beautiful results. A lot of us bought many of our gifts for people back home at this shop, because who doesn’t love gorgeous coffee mugs and teapots?
We also visited a tannery in this city. When we walked in, a man handed all of us mint sprigs to sniff when the scent of everything got too overwhelming. The tannery was both difficult and necessary to visit. It was difficult to watch the men work with the animal skins and ammonium, especially because many of them didn’t have proper safety gear. This was a heavy topic prior to arriving, but the working conditions should come to no surprise. After all, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. A few kittens also visited the shop while we were there, and they were very cute.
The last place that we visited on our city tour was a weaving shop. This was my favorite part of the tour. As many of you have heard, traveling to Morocco unleashed a scarf loving monster in the form of me. We got to see how they weave blankets and fabrics, and everything in the shop was so colorful and lovely. My absolute favorite thing about Morocco is how colorful everything is! Once I have my own place, I definitely want to decorate in the same way Moroccans do: with as many colors as possible and vibrancy as key.
While in Fes, we also met with graduate students from a local university and had wonderful discussions with them over lunch. It was really awesome to hear different perspectives on gender and sexuality, especially in relation to being in a Muslim country, because I’ve never been in a country that isn’t predominantly Western Christian before. The students were very willing to answer any questions we had, and they had a lot of questions for us too! All in all, getting to meet with our peers was a great learning experience.