Rachide arrived at 10am. We had breakfast together after which Dan and I went to the bank where I changed £200 in traveller’s cheques. Inside were tow English folks. The bloke had the ‘squits’ and was not feeling too well. They were finding Fes to be hard work and thought they were being hassled to death. The bank took ages to get through the queues of people. We were issued with a number and we had to wait until our number was called out to be served.
After getting the money changed, we went to pick up the things we had bought the day before and took them to the post office. The staff at the post office, when we arrived, said we would have to come back at 2.30pm that day to get our things posted.
We decided to get a taxi to the ‘Arms Museum’ from where Rachide said we could see a great panorama of the old medina. He was right about the view and the impressive size of the old city. He then took us to see some old forts and the cemetery near Bab Guissa. From there, we took a taxi back to near the post office and sat about drinking coffee until 2.30pm when the post office opened.
Rachide had had a ‘chat’ with the ‘wrapping man’ earlier so that he would wrap our things well. Unfortunately, the wrapping stage took absolutely ages and we had masses of forms to complete. There was a quick discussion about how much we were going to tip the ‘wrapping man’. We gave him 60 dirhams after he had asked for 100 dirhams. Rachid seems to be very good at haggling for us. There is a ‘tourist price’ which is offered but which we don’t pay.
After this busy morning, we were feeling hungry and returned to Rachide’s house for a huge plateful of couscous. We sat about for a bit and then hurried off to Sidi Harazem, which is spa town some 15 kilometres to the east of Fes. It took two taxis to get there and some amazing queue-barging by Rachide to get us into the complex. Nonetheless, we were there by 5.15 and the light was dimming.
Small children came up to us offering cups with which to drink the warm, spring water. We paid them a couple of dirhams each. We had the swiftest of looks at the spa and then Rachide moved along to look at some traditional Berber dancing girls on a stage. They were probably the most disinterested artistes I had ever seen. There were four of them who sat about chatting and smoking before their rather turgid performance, and they chatted to each other all the way through the performance too. It was, in fact, very amusing because they obviously could not give a toss about their performance.
More interesting was the relationships between two American girls and some Moroccan chaps which were on display while we watched the pitiful dancing display. One of the Americans was cuddling a puny Moroccan chap. The other American was cuddling a Moroccan girl. Rachide was laughing at all of the activity that was happening there and kept saying “Crazy people!”. It was a pretty odd place.
We took a taxi back to Fes at 7pm where we went to Rachide’s house for supper, which was kofta in a sauce. After eating, Dan played with the kids for a while. Meanwhile, I talked with Rachide during which he said that he would send us carpets with our names in Arabic on them for our birthdays. In return, he wanted shoes and some of the Rohan travelling trousers we were both wearing.
Dan and I had decided that we would give him 1,500 dirhams to pay for the food and guidance he had given us. We talked and found out a few things about them. Rachide was 28 and Rachida, 24. Rachida said she was getting used to having us around and wished we could stay. Dan played ‘noughts & crosses’ with the girls before we left them to return to the hotel.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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