Last week my daughter Ayu and I were in Morocco. After nearly missing our plane, we arrived in the city of Fes. Founded in 789, Fes is now the third largest Moroccan city. Our hotel was in the old medina, which I soon learned, is the old walled city. The Medina – known as Fes el Bali- is a UNESCO world heritage site and supposedly one of the oldest car-free urban areas in the world.
Our first official day in Fes involved a tour through this ancient walled city.
Through our eyes it looked like a confusing mass of semi-dark alleys, as along each one are tall houses and shops. The medina is divided into sections so that each area has a specialty: shoes, copper and blacksmithing, leather, jewelry, etc. Both Ayu and I immediately felt disoriented.
It was like being in a giant rabbit warren for people.
Adding to the disorientation was our guide. He was tall and knowledgeable, unmistakably a scholar and native who cherished his city and all the ancient ways. But as we meandered around, I began feeling tense. He was clearly opinionated and saw the Arab people and Islam as far superior than all others.