5:00 arrival in Fes, we have got to stop being up early enough for sunrise it is not beneficial to our health, especially when the medina, and our walk is 2-3 miles from where the stupid bus dropped us off instead of the stupid bus station. After spending a few hours trying to get a cheap place to spend the night we settle on a place with wifi for 100 dirhams just inside the medina gates. Easy enough, we meander into the medina and the souks, still too early for any of them to open. Interestingly they are still collecting all of the trash bags left on all sides of the alleys and streets. Since these paths are so narrow they collect it with a donkey carrying a huge tarp constructed bag to pick up and haul all of the garbage. Seems very practical but those poor donkeys are worked so hard here, it makes me so sad. After a little breakfast the markets finally started to open and we were excited to see the tanneries, one of the huge draws of the market. You must take care though, it is Morocco and nothing is free. Many boys will try to lead you there to get tips and you can't just walk into the leather store and see the view for free. With this in mind we went up the four stories of the shop to the terrace above the largest tannery. We were handed mint leaves to obscure the smell of flesh and pigeon poo. It is their secret ingredient to softening the leather, only 20 dirhams a kilo, what a bargain for pigeon droppings! We got to see some of the dyes and they are all made naturally still in this factory; mint for green, poppy red, indigo blue, saffron yellow and for white they combine 7 different ingredient. The leather stays in the natural dye vat for 20 days. We unfortunately learned that the famous pictures of bright exquisite tanneries are mostly due to artificial dye, not like this one we visited. Ready to breathe again (the smell is really awful) we headed down the four flights of every bag and jacket you could imagine made of sheep, cow, dromedary (like a camel but with 1 hump, and nicer temperament) and the softest leather of goat. We politely declined due to the size of our packs until we got to the bottom level where the wallets were. There was a very nicely designed tri-fold indigo blue wallet that we liked and it costed 220 dirham, no way! We settled for 160 and left feeling worked until we saw the same wallet on the street for only 40 dirhams, changing our feeling to downright used and abused. It feels like time to go, this "cheap" vacation has cost us way more than we budgeted, only a few more days left. Bummed out we head up to the top of town to enjoy the sunset, on our way up this kid stops to ask us for a dirham, we decline as usual but he keeps following us, offering to take a picture with the nice sunset, we tell him over and over again no and he just keeps on it. He is like 9 years old and just counting on us to give in and give him money so he will go away. Not only do we not have any money to spare but there is no way we will reinforce that behavior, c'mon that is ridiculous. He followed us around for like 30 minutes before finally lagging behind, finally. Oh of course he was just taking a pee and he is right back at it before we know it for another 15 minutes before he really FINALLY gives up. Sunset ruined we head back to town for dinner and bed.
A beautiful palace on the way to the medina
Unlike Marrakech the medina in Fes is well organized with signage maps and information on different parts of the medina