We have arrived in fabulous Fez where the ancient Medina is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Medina is 1200 years old and the site of the oldest university in the world. Our guide is Ahmet who was brought up here and he deftly leads us through the maze of over 9,000 alleyways (no cars in here) to beautiful places and some where we can spend money…
Guide Julie of Venus Adventures has warned us the shopping is irresistable, I said maybe a carpet…
I am travelling for four months, I still have 2 months to go, I do not have room for more stuff. I say I am not going to buy another thing, Guide Julie says “whatever” and gives the handsignal,. Yeah right – as we say in NZ.
First stop the oldest tannery in Morocco – below us we watched the workers move hides around the vats, wondering what their own skins were like at the end of the day and trying not to throw up with the smell – we have been given mint to crush under our noses to help us resist. We are surrounded by leather bags, leather poofs, leather shoes of every colour and texture. I need nothing, but can not resist a beautifully soft red and black leather backpack.
Next stop – a weaving shop where we have lunch surrounded by the most fantastic vibrant colours. I need nothing, but can not resist a bed throw that hangs in front of me through lunch – great passive marketting.
We go downstairs where the clothes are. I need nothing, but I am drawn to a stylish black and gold number. It costs so much that the scarf I also want is thrown in.
I think I am getting the hang of bartering – but they can see me coming. They suss me out – western, rich, stupid woman who will buy stuff…..
I thought I had learnt some skills in the Beijing Silk Market, but not enough. I am busily trying to divide the price by 5 for NZ dollars, then think of what I want to pay, then multiply it by 5 for the local currency – it’s a nightmare.
I think I have settled on a good price, but they are generally too happy for my liking at the end of the deal.
My traveling companions all think I am turning straight as I am forever going off into another room arm in arm with a charming salesman who wants to attend to my every need as we discuss a price and seek to close a deal.
There are discussions about how many wives they have already, I am flirting to try and get the price down, they are flirting to try and get it up. At the end of the deal there are kisses on cheeks (multiples of two) and hugs and photos with good looking arab men.
Julie reminds me that I would not be the first woman to head off to the sandhills with a good looking arab.
Next stop a herbal pharmacy where we are introduced to essential oils, cooking spices and herbal remedies. I need nothing, but I can not resist some Myrrh for perfume, and Maria asked me for some Rose Oil, and massage oil is always handy, and some moroccan spices.
At least they are small! And I have not even been to the carpet shop yet. Oh dear.
I do not have room for more stuff. I say I am not going to buy another thing, the whole group now says “whatever” in unison. I am a total pushover, and I am not the only one.
At the end of the day we are exhausted and have single handedly boosted the economy of Fez. I was so tired that I could not even eat dinner – this shopping takes it out of you. I leave the group at the restaurant and fall into bed to sleep 12 hours.