Moroccan fairy tale: a fetid Fes
• Moroccan fairy tale: a fetid Fes
all human activity, both creative and destructive, every manifestation
emerging or dying life accompanied by the stench.
Patrick Süskind. "Perfumer. Story of a Murderer "
Once upon a time, as a child, I watched the movie "Labyrinth." The plot, I do not remember. I remember only that there was an old swamp, which never stink washed off. It is called - Swamp eternal stench. I was sure that this - fiction writers: well, can not exist in the real world so fetid place. I admit I was wrong.
In Africa, there is a country of Morocco. In Morocco, there is a city of Fez. In Fez there is the old medina of Fez el-Bali. In Fez el Bali there are quarter tanner. In the first quarter with a tanner there is a place where the skin is treated and painted - Shuar. And there hangs a stench that bog of eternal stench - well, just nervously smoking in aside.
It seems to be: well, what we can surprise us all life lived in Russia, and we have some transitions and more ceremonial and not a whiff of worth! It turns out that there is nothing.
No, if you look at Fez dyeing with the roofs of the surrounding buildings, as do all the normal people, the smell of all this mess is not so bad. Firstly, there walks a no breeze, which is still slightly dilutes the stench hanging over the dyeing. Secondly, all visitors local merchants helpfully issued a couple of mint leaves, which, if you put them to his nose, almost completely interrupted the remains of an unpleasant smell. In short, you can live!
But if you go down and get into the heart of the dye-works, right to the vats in which the soaked skin, once it becomes clear that any, even the most zassanaya gateway in comparison to this place - so simple fragrant flower bed. One has only to go in there, drove to her throat nausea, and in the eyes become cloudy, so instinctively trying to hold his breath and thrust himself deeper mint in the nose. And the only thought that at that time comes to mind - as if not to lose consciousness and do not flop into one of these stinking vats ... Brrr! Even after a few months, only to remember about Fez - immediately begin to feel the nasty smell, though I did not manage to wash away. It helps only hot tea with brandy ... Fez - the first city founded by the Arabs in the lands of modern Morocco, pearl of the Arab culture, religious and scientific center and one of the "imperial cities". Let me remind you, this term is usually called the city, which at different times, became the capital of the country. Three other imperial cities of Meknes, Rabat and Marrakech. Last for many centuries was the main rival of Fez in the battle for the capital functions. In some periods of the history of the country broke up into two independent states, each with its own capital: Fez and Marrakech in the north to the south. And, according to one version, the modern capital - Rabat - nothing more than a compromise between these two cities.
In Arabic, "fez" means "pick-ax" (or "hack"). According to legend, this tool Idris I, the founder of the Arab Idrisid Dynasty, in 789 year outlined the first boundary of the city.
Today Fes consists of three parts: Fes el-Bali - the old medina, surrounded by medieval ramparts, Fez Dzhdid - the new medina, founded in the XIII century, and situated on the side of them New Fez, pledged in 1916.
The historical part - Fes el-Bali - Medina is considered the largest (and in combination - the pedestrian area) in the world. Since 1981 it is - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More in the morning when we were having breakfast in Merzouga and were just going to go in the direction of Fez, I used the app HotelTonight and booked us a room at a local riad, somewhere on the outskirts of Fez el-Bali. I specifically chose a hotel close to the city walls and gates: that try to stop in the medina in a car - a bad idea, I realized even on the first day of our trip, shkryabaya rear-view mirrors walls narrow streets of Marrakech.
Generally, in a more or less decent hotels in Fez there is a tradition to welcome guests at the city gates with a donkey or a mule on his back which will be loaded suitcases. Other vehicles are not, and can not be: the streets are so narrow that the donkey is not always get through. We like the service was not needed - parking is located literally around the corner from our riad, so our Hyundai squeezed between a pair of some battered pickup trucks, we will gladly rushed deep into the medieval alleys of Fez. Despite the fact that from the parking area to the riad was about two hundred meters, no more searching for it took twenty minutes. Several times we went back and forth past the nondescript battered door, and only then decided to take a closer look to little rusty plate located above it - the hotel, we were looking for was right in front of us. The sound of ancient knokera echoing echoed off the stone walls and disappeared in the distance. Behind the door, he heard hurried footsteps, quietly scrape the old castle, and friendly Arab motioned us inside. After going down a short corridor, we were in the courtyard of our riad.
would look like any decent Moroccan riad. In the past, this word means the houses of wealthy Moroccans nowadays so styled traditional Moroccan hotel, located in historic buildings: outside - a blank wall and gryaznenky inconspicuous door, inside - a real palace with fountains, pools, expensive finishes and spacious cozy rooms.
Prices per night in a Moroccan riad begin with a few dollars and can go up to several hundred - all depends on the level of the hotel.
Complete with number were: delicious breakfast, fast wi-fi and a rooftop terrace. This - the traditional set for any self-respecting riad. Well, if you spend the night in the palace, and the breakfast should be the king's.
Riad we got, of course, indescribably beautiful. I never for a moment the feeling that we - in this Moroccan fairy tale.
Having finished breakfast, we threw our bags in the car and went to explore the mysterious medina of Fes el Bali - the mysterious world, which consists of nearly ten thousand lanes. Most of them are a dead end, and the total length must be dozens, if not hundreds of kilometers. In general, you can wander around a very long time.
Most of the walls of Fez el-Bali - deaf. And most importantly, that you never know what lies behind the doors of their unremarkable: it is equally likely to be a slum, and the royal palace. Traditional window in Moroccan homes are located only in the inner courtyard. This architecture, first, to protect from the heat, and secondly, from prying eyes.
If frankly, all of the medina of Northern Africa - about the same. See them nothing special: an old mosque, the old school, well, maybe a couple more what some undistinguished buildings of dubious historical value, and that's all.
The most interesting thing here - the street life, which is everywhere - from Egypt to Morocco - it looks about the same: a shopping arcade, shopping arcade, shopping arcade ...
Of course, Fez el-Bali stands out among the other old Arab cities in its scope.
The present human anthill. In all directions moving away hundreds of streets, passages, a width of not more than one meter. To get lost in this maze simple.
Initially, the density and chaotic building due to the fact that everyone tried to live inside the city walls - they say is safer. But over time it became clear that the strength of earthen fortifications that surround the medina is clearly overstated. Then the inhabitants of Fez came up with the following: in case of an attack, they just opened the city gates and ran into the robbers. Recent very quickly lose their orientation and fragmented into small groups, after which residents easily dealt with the enemy one by one ...
To date, there is no one in the world map of Fez. Even Google Maps and Maps.me have a very rough idea of its layout - it marked only the main street, by the way, in reality arranged quite differently. All guides describing Fez wishes pour pathos a la "to complete the sensation necessarily get lost in the medina."
You know what? Go here without a guide and do not get lost - it is simply impossible. This whole web of streets is a so complex and confusing maze that to navigate in it can not even try. You turn two or three times - and do not remember where he had come, all the same. Landmarks - no. If you get lost, then the cell to the question "Where are you?" Can be answered only, "I - here!".
It should be held in Fez el-Bali for five minutes - and you are guaranteed will not know or where you came from, or where to go next. Navigator also did not help much - on the narrow covered streets are not always caught by the signal from the satellite or mobile phone towers, so that your location on the map Mobile will ride back and forth, like a young colt. It remains the only option - to move instinctively, the only way to come to the right place. No, of course not the first attempt. And not with the second. But as you know, the road by walking.
You can, of course, be tempted to use the services of local helpers, but it is fraught with any great expense or big problems. And although Fez is considered one of the safest cities in Morocco, its streets still happen sometimes unpleasant stories. When we were in Merzouga, the local guys showed us a fresh video, shot in the medina of Fez just a week before our arrival: on it - the German tourists, which some of the local cut with a knife.
The streets of Fez el-Bali, narrow and dark. Moreover, they tend to be narrowed to the top, if the building fall down on each other.
Let us add to this dirt, noise, odors and many multiply the aggressive pristavuchest locals. They will literally grabs your clothes, trying something to offer you. You will politely turn them away, and they, in paying any attention to it, will run next to you shouting something and waving his arms. Everywhere you turned, you will try to explain what you're going the wrong way, you have the other side, and now they will show you the way. Just five minutes from this obsession begins to tire.
In general, a walk around the Fez - not very nice, especially with a couple of expensive camera hanging in plain sight.
Fez el-Bali, as well as any other medina is divided into shopping areas. Each of them specializes in something one.
You sell electronics.
There - leather.
And so on.
Each quarter has its own mosque, water supply system, a bakery and a hammam.
Before the night pass overlap with special doors, so to go from one quarter to the neighboring was impossible. Today this tradition is gone.
Fez - scientific, spiritual and religious capital of Morocco. It is often called "the Mecca of Western" and "African Athens".
One of the main local attractions - University of Al-Karaouine, founded back in the IX century. According to the "Guinness Book" is - the oldest continuously functioning educational institutions in the world.
But the most interesting thing in Fez, of course - leather dyeing Shuar, known to the whole world. They were the reason that this city was in our itinerary.
Paint shop located on the bank of a small river. From the stories of other travelers I know that there is always full of workers, washed skin. Therefore, seeing instead a large construction site, I wondered - and we all came back.
on the navigator check showed - we are on the right track.
On dyeing is best viewed from the roof of the store adjacent to it. Traders actively tout all the tourists upstairs, in the hope that the latter will buy something from them, when they go down. We did not deviate from the standard program and climbed the stairs to one of the roofs.
From there, I was hoping to see a lot of multi-colored vats, where skin color. Instead, in front of me it was a huge construction site. Just a couple of weeks before our arrival, paint shop was closed for a six-month renovation, during which they will turn into a tourist site.
It is understood that about former charm Now you can forget.
What to do next - it was completely incomprehensible. Worthy ideas were not, so we do not come up with anything better than to take in the short leather shop language. From him we learned that, firstly, the two dye-works in Fez - old and new. Secondly, the reconstruction of the closed old and new while still functioning as before. Thirdly, that though they are inferior in size and old, but feels just as good. Fourthly, it is possible to get inside, but usually to no one, and do not start with a strong desire. We decided to try it. There were two options: either to go ahead with the fight or secretly, like a ninja with a reverse gear. We chose the second: capture of a young boy, who had promised to take us the secret paths, and plunged him into a totomny alley. After a few moments we were inside.
In the huge vats filled with horse urine mixed with some unknown to me the ingredients, soaked sheep, camel and horse hides. Around them, everything was covered with a thick layer of some shit. From all this came thick stench, though the ax hang.
The depth of the tanks, by the way - a few meters. It should accidentally stumble - will hide his head.
Technology is not changed for centuries. Everything is done as well as many centuries ago. A difficult path from the sheep meadows to handbags.
We quickly figured out - we were approached by a pot-bellied Arabic, tried to take money from us for visiting and drive. And if you can not deal with him first, in the second he has succeeded: we disgrace brought back to the city.
Even though we stayed inside for about five minutes, no more impressions are now - for a lifetime. Work at Kozhemyak, of course, the trash can imagine. I do not know how much they end up living, but I doubt very much that long.
I am sure that there are certainly some who loves ponyt - what his heavy and thankless office work. My advice is this: your feet in your hands - and run in Fes, look at how others work.
Around the dye-works - a huge number of big and small shops where you can buy ready-made products. Quality, by the way, is excellent.
I do not want the skin? Buy carpet!
By the way, prices in Fez, one of the lowest in Morocco.
After a while, we did not easily escape from the stifling streets of Fez el-Bali. But we are going to go on, as noted on the hillside some ruins. The ruins were old royal tombs.
They are a beautiful view of Fez el-Bali.