Saturday evening in Tangier. We are safely back at the Hilton near the beach, adjacent to the train station.
I’m beat. Tonight makes six different beds in eight nights, including an overnight transatlantic crossing. My tummy was a bit of a mess this afternoon, but seems better now.
And no luggage, nor no word of luggage.
But I shall persevere.
The drive from Fès to Tangier was on the high-speed tollway. We drove west toward Rabat, and then north to Tangier. Agricultural foothills of the Mid-Atlas mountains gave way to the red clay hills of western Morocco, and green plants to scrappy shrubs and rare views of cattle, but still sheep. Those working the land in the west have a harder time of it. Rivers are really streams, but closer to the ocean, one can see the flood plains where waters do at times stretch and flow. The coastal temperature is much more moderate than that inland; 140 km makes a difference when the Atlantic is nearby!
The road out of Fès.
By the highway.
We were chauffered in a Mercedes SUV.
By the highway.
Olive trees in the distance as we headed west.
Turning north to Tangier, cactus instead of flowering shrubs.
As I write at 4.30 p.m., the late afternoon call to prayer is sounding from what triangulating ears present as hundreds of minarets.
I surely cannot hear 100 minarets from here at Riad El Amine, but I bet I can hear 20.
Today is Friday, and mid-day prayers today are obligatory for the faithful. Our guide, Abdul, hurried us to a restaurant at mid-day, and came back an hour later. He wanted to make the prayers, and we certainly obliged him. I mean, I’m the guy who arranges my travel in order to hit noon-day Eucharist at Westminster Abbey, or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Easter Sunday.
This has been a full day of highlights of Fès, a city worth visiting over and over. Our guide took us to the royal palace, through a portion of the Jewish quarter in the medina, and to a deconsecrated synagogue, to an old castle with a prominent view of the old and new medinas, to a pottery and ceramic factory (I succumbed and am having shipped….), to lunch at a terrific restaurant (the best meal of the trip, says Kevin), and then to various spots in the old medina itself. These included a 14th-century secondary school, the Koranic university, the tannery (oh, the smell), the woodworking district, the tombs of two important holy men, the cloth-dying district, and souks full of candy and nuts and spices and meat.
It’s been a full day.
Fès may well be the artistic center of Morocco. I’d have to return more often to find out. And I may.
Courtyard, Al Attarine Madrasa.
Foreyard, Royal Palace.
Overlook, old (9th c.) and new (14th c.) medinas.
Gates of a ruined 14th century fort.
In the old medina.
A street in the old Jewish quarter.
In a restored synagogue.
A peek inside the Sidi Ahmed al-Tijani Zawiya.
In the cloth-dying district, the chickens have been dyed.
Guess that this shop sells?
For purchase. As the sun sets, what’s left is fodder for the pack-animals.
I arrived in Europe three weeks ago this morning. And just a few minutes ago, I checked in for my return to USA on Thursday.
At coffee with J.P. this morning, we were talking about that inevitable sense we get when traveling on longer journeys — no matter the length of the trip, at some point two or three days prior to the end of the journey, the mind turns homeward and we are just ready to do.
So it is today.
I am also keenly aware that the only in-person non-work and non-transactional interchanges I’ve had with people in three weeks have been with J.P. and Sylvie. This lack of communication, and the long stretches of silence, have worn on me a bit, as I now understand.
So I’m down to the last 36 hours, and making the most of it!
The Snow Globe Museum is a cute but brief little visit. I added it to my itinerary after reading one of my guidebooks. Apparently snowglobes were invented here in Vienna, and the company is now under its fourth generation of family leadership. The museum shows old tools and equipment, and samples of some special snowglobes that were one-offs or limited runs.
Also Tuesday, the Schubert birth house, and the church where he wrote his first masses.
Schubert was one of more than a dozen children. He was a prodigy indeed. The house where he wrote “Erlkönig” was at some point recently a porn shop, but is no longer!
Schubert lived here until he was four.
Schubert climbed these stairs every day. I climbed them too.
The place that used to be a porn shop.
The bell towers of the church where Schubert composed as a child student of the organist.