Fes was the second city on our Morocco itinerary. We arrived at the outskirts of town about an hour before sunset. We had just spent the most wonderful day on our drive down, exploring the beautiful countryside. It was spring, and the flowers were in bloom everywhere we looked.
The frenzy of Fes surprised us. The radical contrast between the open road and its fresh and fragrant scents and the choking exhaust fumes of traffic instantly transported me back to my daily anxieties.
Luckily, my pilot’s talents on the road are unparalleled; we soon made it to the Medina. Someone pointed us to the nearest parking lot, we grabbed our bag and started walking towards the old town.
A gentle breeze was stirring the purple flowers of the almond trees lining the streets, stuningly bright against the ocre buildings. Their smell intoxicating, we stopped for a minute to enjoy it and find our way.
It was a bad move. Encumbered by our bags, we were wonderful targets for a crowd of cheery locals who enthusiastically – and relentlessly – tried to convince us we just had to buy souvenirs at the souk. It was a true exercise in diplomacy to extricate ourselves from their embrace, their laughs, their welcomes. In the end, though, you just can’t help being touched by the warmth and friendliness of Moroccans. While Fes seemed like quite a stern town at first, my initial uneasiness vanished as soon as we shared a laugh with several lads. It is so easy to get caught up in your fears when interacting with strangers – at least for me. I however realized that as soon as our boundaries were clear, there was loads of room to meet in the middle.
We finally reached the beautifully designed Dar Seffarine riad, where hot mint tea was waiting for us on the terrace. We cozied up next to each other with our books, watching the sun go down over the city’s rooftops.