Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

It's Gettin Hot in Here

So, it's 30 today in Dar Baida. And I thought it would be fun to instead travel over to Fes, where it's 37. It's hot.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI did another goodbye, this time to the Kelleys, whose company I have greatly enjoyed and whose wisdom I have greatly benefited from. They headed West to send their boys to America to make their fortune, and I stayed for a couple days with YCEW in Fes while they're gone.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI slept four hours- altitude causes sleeplessness. And it's hot. Then I said goodbye and went to McDonalds and kept on ordering sodas to stay awake, and not get kicked out. After YCEW joined me, we went to visit the Merenid Tombs. These are ancient 14th Century tombs of the sultans who built up Fes and made it the capitol of Morocco. They are high above the city, once magnificant, now crumbling in decay. They afford an excellent panoramic view of the city.

Erin however couldn't stand it and did her best to get away.

From above you can see the gigantic cemetary, stretching out on either side of Fes, with everyone buried sitting up, facing Mecca to the E-SE, ready to stand and be counted on Yom Qiama, translated as Judgement Day or Resurrection Day. (Probably depends on the perspective of the individual on that day.) This cemetary is for Muslims only. You can be dead or alive, but you must be Muslim to visit- it is against law and custom for non-Muslims to enter a Muslim cemetary. All Muslims are buried facing Mecca. So I am at a loss to explain those few graves not facing the right direction. Bad or heretical Muslims? Then why bury them there? Jews and Christians who were friends of Muslims? They still would be buried outside the cemetary. Massive plate tectonic deformations? Probably the most likely scenario.

At the time of burial, the same day as death (a good precaution in hot climates) only men go to the funeral; the women, even wives, visit after their men are in the ground. I assume then it is the women who place intricate displays of leaves- not usually flowers here- on the graves. The graves are themselves covered with tesselating designs and intricate calligraphy from the Qur'an.

Always above Fes rises the tannery's hideous black smoke, visible for kilometers. And in the exact center of the old city is the Qaroween Mosque, finished in 862, accompanied by the 2nd greatest school in Islam, after Al-Azhar in Cairo. The picture below shows only the mosque- the school is even larger, and stretches to the left of the picture. It can be seen in the center of the video.

The Villa Noveau of Fes, the new city, is modern, and can be seen at the beginning of the video below, in the distance. Fes Jedid, New Fes, is seen first, and goes back to only the 13th century, when it was built by the aforementioned Merenids as a Jewish enclave, or mellah, and a place for Christian troops. In the middle of the video is a close-up of the Qaroween Mosque and school, in the center of Fes Bali, Old Fes, which was built around 789 AD. The final close-up is again the smoke of the tannery. It's a large city.



Press Play Twice.

Speaking of heat, we all went off to the requisite hammam this evening for an incredibly hot scrub. And that was just in the cold room. I think I have now introduced more expats to this wonderful experience than any other expat. There's something wrong with me.
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Future Hammamers

This was a strange one- the Medina Hammam. I can't recommend it, unfortunately. I've been there a few times before in past years, and enjoyed it. But this time I had a long...discussion with the proprieter, for she wanted us to pay up front, and to pay 20 dirhams more than the standard, because we were "tourists". Even after I pointed out that I was not, they insisted that YCEW was, and therefore they had to pay more. When I mentioned that I had paid less in past years, she accused me of not speaking the truth. We got them down to only 45 dirhams a person, which was still more than you pay for a good scrubbing in most hammams. It was the first time I had to dicker on a hammam price.

It turned out that the tourist price means that, rather than telling you to get the water, or assuming you know where it is, they do everything for you. And though the scrubbing from the kias man was weaker than usual, I had the best massage ever- actually, suprisingly, the first I'd ever had in a hammam. There they stretched my arms and legs into new positions- even more than those behind the head that I'm ordinarily capable of. The kias even stretched my neck, back, and shoulders into new positions, standing on my legs and my back, pulling every joint possible. Insha'allah, my back will continue to work tomorrow. Very refreshing.
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YCEW, after some intitial trepidation, seemed to enjoy the experience. The women were very brave going in without a guide, and actually went through faster than any women I've seen (usually women take twice as long as men). But they still said they had a lot of fun, and are eager to go back at the first opportunity possible. One thing I'll regret most about leaving Morocco is that I will no longer have ready access to hammams. However will I stay clean?

3 comments:

Bequita17 said...

hey - when do you head out of there? good luck with your packing!

@bdul muHib said...

Hey Beq! Good to hear from you!

I am almost done packing, thanks. I leave at 1 AM Teusday morning, so I'll leave the house around 8 tomorrow evening.

drh said...

When Al Gore invented the Internet, he never intended pictures of such contortions to be published. :)