The Occasional Tales of Ailsa B du Bois

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Posts Tagged ‘Fez’

Snails, Caves, Flora and Decoration in Northern Maroc

Posted by Ailsa B du Bois on May 28, 2009

This morning we drove to a village 30k from Fez, and walked through a food market selling various things, most notably baskets and baskets and yet more baskets of live snails, all slithering hopelessly, with the fattest girth’s and the biggest shells I’ve ever seen.  After a stop for a strong café au lait at an outdoor café by a river in a fragrant garden, we drove to a mountain and went into some caves where poor Berber families live.  It was very cool in there, and smelt delightfully minty thanks to the Morrocan penchant for endless cups of extremely sweet black tea, with 3 or more sprigs of mint squished into each little glass.

Driving back to Fez, I observed yet again how rich and fertile this land is; so Mediterranean after-all.  There are endless orchards of olive trees across the land, and so much citrus: particularly orange, lemon and apricot.  Orange trees even decorate city streets.  Along the side of rural and city streets alike, there are beautiful Jacaranda trees everywhere, with their lavander flowers, and underneath these are endless Bouganvillia bushes and Oleander bushes, and so everything seems peppered with vibrant pink and purple.  There are also lots ond lots of little red flowers eveywhere, and on country roads lots of tall single stemmed white flowers, standing upright sometimes as high as two metres, with the white flowers as wide as saucers.  It is really a very beautiful landscape.  There are many grand boulevards in the nouvelle sections of the city of Fez, and more money being spent currently on further public infrastructure such as this.  It is a lovely city, and it is easy to appreciate why the Fessi people (as they call themselves) are so proud of their city. Culturally, this is a land of Arab and Berber people, with a surviving Jewish minority, but predominantly it is of course an Arab Muslim Kingdom.  It is fascinating, and we are learning a lot about Moroccan culture, or at least from a lay-person’s perspective it seems like a lot, yet obviously it is just the tiniest glimpse at the surface.

The intricately detailed mosaic tile work, the hand painting and the carving of wood and marble here is absolutely extraordinary, and everything is adorned with almost insane attention to detail.  The artisan work here is honestly the very finest I have seen anywhere in the world, and of course this is why I’ve wanted to come here for so long.  It is such a pleasure to see this sort of work displayed everywhere we go.  The tile work and wood work is so complex and multi-faceted, and the repetition and symmetry of symbolism and colour is truly striking.  There is also an obsession here with grand gate-ways and door-ways, so you could easily take endless pictures of just gates and arches to fill a coffee table book.  Also, the sandstone fortress walls encasing so many ancient Imperial and Medieval cities here are so romantic, in that very exotic fashion that so influences our child-hood understandings of the tales of the Arabian nights, and it is all real.  Morocco is a beautiful and richly coloured nation.

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