Another very full day without any time to catch our breath. We don’t want to sleep in the bus because we might miss something! Our new transport arrived today which was more the size we had all expected when we booked. It is a 14 seater minivan/ bus and much more comfortable. We are all very happy.
Anne and I had bought some strawberries to share but we had no chance to eat them or need them as it turned out. When we checked their condition they had grown an incredibly healthy crop of mould and released all their juice. When I removed the bag holding the container from the bed, we were horrified to find the juice had seeped through the bag onto the sheets and mattress protector. What a flurry we had trying to clean it up and a few laughs too when we thought about what the cleaners might think.
Our first stop after driving through beautiful rich farmland full of olive trees, wheat, and barley crops was Volubilis, a Roman ruins which was incredibly important during the Roman era. This area was called Mauritania which is where the name Moors came from too. The mosaics on the floor of some of the excavated houses were really impressive. It was so hard to imagine this was all under ground. The French excavated the site from 1912 to 1955 during their colonisation of Morocco. The triumphant arch and the forum where in reasonable condition as were some of the baths and floors of homes. The city was large and there is continuing excavation.
From here we drove to Meknes, another previous capital and a rather grand city. It has the remains of an aqueduct, granary store, and stables for 10,000 horses! We had a woman guide and she was so interesting. She showed us a video of a male belly dancer, her teacher and he was fantastic! She talked al lot about the tolerance between faiths in Morocco- the fact that they are conservative but also moderate. High schools are mixed now and you saw lots of young couples together. We visited another palace and saw the golf course. The grounds are immense and golf is played at night. She took us to a jewellery place which was my downfall. Mary also capitulated. I bought a beautiful Berber necklace of silver, turquoise and coral.
All these towns have had Jewish quarters and the Jews were acknowledged as skilled artisans. There are Berbers who converted to Judaism and others who took on Islam so that there has been a mixing of the two cultures and you will meet a person with a Muslim and Jewish name such as Mohammed Cohen! The King during the 2nd World War refused to give up the Jews to the Nazis and for this he has been held in high esteem by Jewish communities. Many Jews have now moved to Israel however.
Finally we arrived in Fes, and had to leave our van on the outside of the Medina( the old walled city) and went straight to dinner and a show of belly dancing, magician traditional male dancing /music troupe and an acrobat. The restaurant was so gaudy but exotic and the food was good. Mary was enticed up by the belly dancer and I got up too. It was a bit of fun. She later returned as a different dancer and proceeded to wiggle her breasts against Mary’s ears and later Bills. He went red and Mary commented that that’s why they call them knockers! After Tea we walked to our Riad Marjana. It is quite exquisite with tiled walls, fountain, and a swimming pool practically in the dining room! The ceiling is elaborately carved. Our senses are on overload.
Prickly pear plants are used as fences in many places and they are everywhere.