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Tuesday, Day 6: April 5, 2022 – To Market, To Market

Today is full of activities but I must start out by saying CONGRATS TO KANSAS BASKETBALL for winning the DI NCAA championship. I watched on my phone early on Thursday 1:30 – 3:45. I wished that I could have been there with my dad, a fellow Kansan. We have been watching them together all season.

Fes aka Fez

Fes is the oldest city of Morocco’s modern era. It was established by the Arabs in 808. It has hills and valleys.

Fes was once the capital so it is considered an imperial city. The royal palace consists of 82 acres and was originally a storehouse and a barracks. The doors are made of cedarwood covered by brass.

Morocco is influenced by Moorish Islam. The Ottoman Empire of Turkey is a different culture. Here the minaret differs by being square. Moroccan Arabs lived in northern Spain and then returned to Morocco. They are called Moors and come from Andalus. After 800 years, they in turn were influenced by the Spaniards and started to use balconies on their buildings.

Sevilla, Córdoba, and Madrid are Arab words. Many Spanish words have Arab origins. Alhambra tiles come from Fes.

Up until 2011, Berber was only a spoken language. Now all sounds have been identified and letters which look Greek are being used for teaching in schools and written purposes. This was the result of Arab Spring.

Arabic, Berber, French.
Today being Moroccan is more important than what group you are.

The Jewish quarter is called mellah in Arabic. It means salt. The Jews traded salt. No Jews remain in the mellah. They have moved out to live a more modern life in the French area. And many Jewish people went to Casablanca to follow the money.

A street in the mellah

Mosaics

Under the potter’s hand, he creates. This man has been turning for over 20 years. The wheel is turned with his foot. What a leg workout!
These men are breaking up different colorful shapes to use in the mosaic patterns.
He has to have a steady hand to draw straight lines. He uses a compass to measure to mark equi-distance from the center point.
The grand finale…the mosiac shop.

Old Medina Markets

The Old Medina is shaped like a boat. The oldest part is in the bottom with the newer parts building up along the sides with time.

Overlooking the Medina, the largest in Morocco

There are 9,000 alleyways; many which are very narrow. This serves a purpose for cooler temperatures and airflow.

It is very easy to get lost. We were told to stay put if we get lost and they would come to us. Makes sense!!
Beautiful silks and fabric. They are soft to the touch.

One weaver asked me where I was from in America and when I said Virginia, he replied, “Virginia is for Lovers.” Wow. That is some far reaching marketing.

Here is a man pounding copper with a catchy beat.

Hafid, our local guide who is also a musician, said that a steady rhythm prevents hearing loss. I would think that it might be best to use hearing protection.

There are hammams in the Medina. I plan to take one on the last days of the trip. I am humbled to know that my luxurious experience is at the expense of another. This man keeps the fire going in the hammams 24 hours a day. He lives, eats, and sleeps here as the fire cannot go out.

I hope that he gets a portion of the tips.

Instead of an engagement ring, the man gives a golden belt. Men hope to marry a skinny wife. Henna is allowed but not permanent tattoos. I have not seen ANY tattoos!! Henna on just the hands means that she is single. Henna on the hands and feet means that she is married.

Would you walk a mile for a camel?

The butcher is telling the customers that he is selling camel meat as opposed to beef. I think that a sign might be better, but it sure did stand out. And isn’t that what good advertisement is supposed to do???

Fifty percent of the population is under 20 years old. They were the first African nation to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there is a smaller older population. The leader of the U.S. Operation Warp project was a Moroccan-born researcher Moncef Slaoui.

Tannery

The tannery has been making leather goods since the 14th century. It is a skill handed down from father to son. It is a smelly process but a girl from Kansas is used to the smells of a feedlot. They said it is not Coco Chanel but Caca Chanel!! However, I was given a spring of mint to keep at my nose. I stuffed it in my mask and thought that I might do this every day!!

When they receive the leather, it is first soaked in limestone and pigeon poop. It is acidic and softens the leather and also serves to bleach it. This takes about 3 weeks. Then it is dyed for approximately another 3 weeks. Every Friday they buy pigeon poop for $2 for 2 lbs.

Tanners have a very hands-on feet-on job!!

Camel leather is light and waterproof and can withstand a flame. Rob and I both bought leather jackets. Mine was ready to purchase, but Rob needed some extra length on the sleeve. They offered to make it on the spot and deliver it to the hotel. The bartering process is always uncomfortable but after the handshake, we all walked away as friends.  Later, I bought something on the street and was wearing a large distinctive hat. I was a marked woman and EVERYONE wanted to sell me something. HELP!!

Calligraphy

We learned to write Arabic calligraphy. It looks difficult and it is more difficult than it looks.

The tools of the trade; each one whittled by the calligrapher out of bamboo.
The inkwell contained a long string of silk so the end of the tool was protected from hitting the bottom and not get dull.
Our teacher explained that everything revolves around the circle and proportion is very exact.
Our teacher’s name is Mohammed. His father and grandfather and his son are also named Mohammed. Add a few cousins and uncles in a family gathering and the family totals over 40 Mohammed’s.

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