Fes: a day in the medina

March 21, 2012

The medina or old part of the city in Fes is a cacophony, a visual feast, an overwhelming olfactory experience. It’s hard to know where to begin and at best, I can only give you a tiny taste of what our yesterday was like.
The souk (marketplace) in Fes is ancient and therefore very old-school, as souks go. Or so we’re told. The alleys are crowded with vendors; donkey carts, people and handcarts compete for space in the narrow nooks and crannies.
There you can find anything from a sheep’s head to strawberries to sweets and clothing and keychains, jewelry—well, there’s something for everyone.

Watch your step—footing is uneven, many little steps and holes and if you step wrong, well, just don’t.

We saw so many herds of sheep as we traveled around that it was a little disconcerting to see the heads sitting on display waiting for a housewife to pick it up for the night’s dinner. Steamed, I hear, it’s delicious.

Any vegetable you might want is available, especially fava beans, artichokes and I saw a guy pushing a huge cart chock-full of garlic bulbs. By the way, the color of olives (above) reflects when they’re harvested. Green are young olives, red are harvested mid way and the black are the oldest. Things move so fast in the souk you have just a second to capture a photo and even then, if you slow down you’ll be accosted by vendors wanting to sell you something.

Oh, the strawberries! Plump and so scarlet –beyond your wildest imaginings.
I was quite taken with the caftans, relatively plain for every day or opulently sequinned for a festive event.
It would be worth getting married again to be able to wear this beauty of a bridal caftan, below. I have two caftans of my own at home and love the freedom of movement they afford. I wear them often around the house, but if I went to our market wearing one people would think I hadn’t gotten dressed.

Came across these in an alley. As you can imagine, they startled me for a moment.
Donkeys and mules are definitely beasts of burden in the Fes souk and it was hard to imagine how these overloaded caches, sometimes in woven baskets didn’t knock people over more often.
It’s every man and woman for themselves in the souk and our guide, Muhammed, spent a lot of time telling us, “watch out!”

It’s not like our lives back in the U.S. prepared us to dodge donkeys, mules and their poop.

It’s a labrynthe of more than 1,000 derbes or dead-end alleys, and if we hadn’t been led by our guide, we’d probably still be trying to figure out how to get out.
One comment on “Fes: a day in the medina
  1. Cindy says:

    I would love to have any of those caftans!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.