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Friends in Fez

3/15/09 Yesterday was a short day trip to Fez for Hanane and me. It was a really enjoyable day. First of all we went to a giant tent city of used book sellers. this was like a treasure trove for both of us and we ended up spending about two hours and twenty five dollars there which yielded Hanane a new dictionary and a text book for her classes and for me a number of books on Moroccan culture and history for me. Plus, I finally have a guidebook to Morocco since Hanane bought me one! So maybe I will start to figure this country out finally, not that I’ve been doing too bad, I figured out how to get a fiance, I’m certainly eating plenty, and I have a rather large and loving extended family, perhaps with a guidebook none of this would have happened… After the booksellers we had lunch in the new city, our typical half chicken, rice, fries etc. The first place we went (which Hanane is still angry about) the guy charged us 55 dirhams…a blatant case of overcharging the white guy….last week we paid 47.5 dirhams, but this included coke and salad, so it wasn’t too terrible (about a dollar less than the week before), and this week it was 42 dirhams, about 50 cents less than before and much better food and service, so this time Hanane was quite happy with the meal. What a difference $1.50 makes! After this we went to a tourist cafe in the Rex Garden park and met our friend Karima. We had some simple orange juice, coffee, shakes, etc and I was charged nearly double by a greasy waiter. I was puzzled at the fact that I didn’t argue more about the price but realized as we walked away that in the United States, it is considered petty to quibble over a dollar or two and since I was with my fiance and our friend, I didn’t want to ‘lower’ myself by yelling and arguing as has to be done here if you are not to be ripped off. Of course since I realized this afterwards, it was too late to go back and correct my error, because here, you are really lowering yourself by letting some greasy waiter sucker you out of a dollar. Our friend Karima is a great girl and leads to the title of this post. She has a really good blog called Karima in Fez that I found last week. I emailed her and then the three of us met in Sefrou when she came here for a job interview. We were surprised to find out that she is recently married to an American and she has been giving us great advice on how to proceed with our marriage and we are looking into lots of interesting opportunities in Morocco that you may hear about in the future. But back to yesterday. From the Rex Garden we took a cab to the old Medina in Fez. In the old medina I had to follow behind the girls as if I didn’t know them to avoid them being arrested by the tourist police as illegal tour guides. This has happened to Karima before when she walked through the medina with a foreign friend. The laws and police and regulations here can be incredibly difficult to navigate. I didn’t mind though as it reminded me of what it feels like to be Agent 808 and to tail two beautiful Arab women through the souks. I followed them to Cafe Clock, a very hip coffee house in the heart of the medina owned by an Englishman named Mike. There we met a few people, talked and enjoyed the company. After this, we pulled the Agent 808 routine again and left the old medina by taxi. We went back to the new city to a pizza joint near the french embassy that had the best pizza I’ve had since leaving New York. I never did catch the name of the place but I think it was simply Pizzas. This was followed by a walk through the beautifully lit up downtown of Fez and then a taxi ride back to Sefrou. I noticed that there seemed to be less garbage in Fez than the last time I was there and asked Karima about it and she explained it very simply, “The King was here a few days ago!” Of course, things get cleaned up for the royal presence. I wish he would come to Sefrou for a while! (All photos from this post are stolen from Karima’s blog at karimainfez.blogspot.com or from the cafe clock website www.cafeclock.com)

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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