Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travels, old stones, and a lesson learned

Nous voici arrivés à Fès, dernière étape du voyage sans chauffeur et voiture. Mais avant d'y arriver, que d'aventures!

Last time I wrote, we were taking it easy in Casa. There, we had fun times with an Easter egg hunt Betsy had organized for us (having brought chocolate and braided bread on the plane!) and we didn't visit too much, resting up for what was to come.

Après Casa, Meknès, sous la pluie. On a beaucoup marché malgré la pluie, parce que les heures d'ouverture n'étaient pas claires.  Le jour même,  on se trouve un taxi vers Moulay Idriss, ville sainte, ouverte aux non-musulmans pour y passer la nuit que depuis 2006! Petit village charmant, avec des ânes un peu partout. Pratique, dans une ville bâtie dans la montagne, avec des escaliers partout!

Yesterday -was it only yesterday?!- we took a nice walk to Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman town. It's got beautifully restored ceramics. The day was perfect,  not too hot or cold. It gets really cold here at night, and there's no heating in the humid rooms.
 After a nice walk in the town,  we had the guesthouse order us a car to drive us to Fes. What a ride! Actually, the ride was fine, roads are nice here, but...

Once we get into town, our driver asks for directions from a motorcyclist, who then starts to guide us. We've heard of these "guides", and are well prepared to refuse his help. We make it clear we're not willing to pay him. We were told our driver knew how to get us to the Blue Door. Turns out he didn't.  He'd clearly planned to ask for help once in town. But, having never been to Fes, he didn't know about the fake guides who even take advantage of Moroccans who've never left their small town. So the motorcyclist leads us well away from what we, with our small Lonely Planet map, can tell should be the right direction. Then he makes our driver pay him the equivalent of 3$, and rides off, leaving us stranded who knows where. Our poor driver is sweating buckets by now, and our sighs of exasperation aren't helping. Poor guy! He finds another "guide" who takes us to another door of the medina (old town), then assures us that the car can't get to the Blue Door. Yeah right. He just wants to make us walk, then ask for a ridiculous amount for his troubles. Good thing Betsy made a reservation, otherwise he'd take us to a hotel where he gets a commission.  Finally, our driver accepts to ask for help from a reliable source, and calls our riad (hotel). After several hot minutes sitting silently in the car, a woman arrives to save the day! The driver is very sorry for all this, and we just tell him at least now he knows!

Après toutes ces émotions, c'est un soulagement d'arriver au riad et de le trouver très joli, très confortable.

La suite de Fès dans un prochain article... 

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