A Tale of Four Cities

Kelila Johnson
June 26, 2013

This past Sunday I woke up in Fez, travelled to Volubilis, where I explored the ruins of the Roman city, and then went to Meknès: once the capital of Morocco. I went to sleep in Rabat.

In Fez, we stayed in the ville nouvelle in a hotel that was beautiful to look at, if problematic to stay in.  The upside was the gorgeous pool area, where we lounged about for the first afternoon in Fez.  The downsides were: cold showers in the morning, the cleaning people removing the toilet paper from the bathrooms (Hamdullah for the bidet – THAT was a new experience for me), and some smaller things like having our tables reserved for us under a completely fabricated name.

The view from the balcony was lovely though.

So the first day we took it easy, enjoyed the pool (and the pool bar) and then walked up and down the “Champs-Elysées of Fez”

Had an early dinner (8pm), after which I promptly went to bed.

The next morning we had a tour of the Fez medina.  WOW.  This is the largest old medina in the world, and…well the tour was exhausting, but worth it.

We saw some weavers at work, and bought scarves:

We saw craftsmen carving calligraphy on stone, and saw how they make Argan oil:

And there was, of course, the obligatory trip to the tanneries, complete with everyone spending more money than they intended.

Donkeys everywhere, heralded by the call “Balak, Balak” – which basically means “get out of the way”

Along with many sights of REALLY old universities, some of which used to be mosques.

It was a whirlwind, but very worthwhile.  We were supposed to have the afternoon to continue to explore the medina, but we were all so exhausted, we opted for a nap instead, and returned to the hotel.

The nap was much needed.

The following day, we left early to go to Volubilis – an ancient Roman city in the heart of Morocco.  What baffled me were the complete lack of security personnel or safety precautions.  You know how, in the U.S., we have safety rails on everything and you can’t touch anything and have to walk only in specific areas?  Yeah, none of that here.  You can even smoke in the ruins.  Which leaves them vulnerable, but also leaves them in a state of nature – you really get to see what is there unencumbered by the trappings of the 21st century.

That is just a sample. I took tons of pics here.

From Volubilis we went to Meknès for lunch and to see the tomb of Moulay Ismail.

Since we were there, we took a sidetrack and saw an old prison, which was spooky, partly because it was underground.


At which point we returned to Rabat, exhausted.

It was an interesting trip, but I need a weekend now!  But wait, we leave for a week in Senegal on Saturday!

Ah well…

A bientôt!

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Kelila Johnson

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Kelila Johnson. I am a third-year student at Pitzer College majoring in International &amp; Intercultural Studies with a regional emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa. I also work full-time as the manager of the campus coffee shop. I have been active in college governance, serving on committees in my capacity as a staff member and I am a proud member of Student Senate, where I represent the &quot;New Resources Students&quot; who are the non-traditional student population at Pitzer. In my free time I catch up on sleep, go to Disneyland, watch movies, read, and spend quality time with my cat. I love to travel, and I&#39;m looking forward to improving my French language skills and experiencing a culture quite different from home.</span></p>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
Home University:
Pitzer College
International Studies
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