Oudaya, Meknes and Fez: Different Worlds in Morocco

With rebels going crazy in Libya – literally, as the looting begins and the NATO-supplied Libyans vainly attempt to corner a man who has outwitted the world for decades – I just want to crawl back into bed before Justin Bieber tweets an inane comment of support for democracy. Since I cannot go back to bed, as I have too much to do today, I thought that I would post triptychs from Oudaya and Fez.

Oudaya was one of those places where you are excited to walk. The wind off the water, the deep blues and whites, and the relative peace on the streets made it a haven from the throngs elsewhere. There were opportunities to buy overpriced mint tea and pastries, but those tourist experiences are seldom worth the money, and money is important at the beginning of an adventure; you do not want to run out too early in the trip.

Fez was a different animal altogether. It was hot and crowded in the souk. There were human traffic jams, and I have to say that the old men and women were awful human beings. They pushed, they shoved; one old man almost tried to get in a physical fight with me [I may be a little short, but I am not exactly a frail man]. The only thing I loved in Fez was the donkeys. These little guys take the world’s weight on their backs through the winding streets. I felt sad for them, but I do love donkeys.

The last experience that I will post today relates to the market at Meknes. Ironically our guide spent some time speaking to me about how much humane the halal slaughter process was compared to North America. He cringed when he described machines tearing cows and pigs to pieces. As a person who is comfortable with meat to a point – I have no problems finishing large sections of meat into traditional cuts, but do not like heads or to kill animals myself – I was surprised by his orthodoxy in relation to our process. Let’s just say that I was even more surprised as we entered the market: the smell of death was frantic and everywhere. I have been in markets through Vietnam, Japan, India, Europe, Costa Rica, Peru and North America, but the market in Meknes can only be described as the door to hell’s butchery. I will not soon forget the poor caged to the gills chickens and rabbits, nor the offal hanging with flies from meathooks, but it was the cow’s heads that stuck. Decapitated and peeled back to show the brains; this was not a European fine deli. On reflection it is not the actual carnage, but rather the filth that the bodies were in, the blood and dirt covering the souk floor.

The visit begins reasonably enough, despite hundreds of bees and a bad smell.

Getting out of Hell is never as easy as getting in...

Note to self: Never wear flip flops to a souk, again.


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