This week is the third and final recap of my trip to Morocco. We spent the last 4 days in the city of Fez. Talk to any Moroccan and they will tell you Fez is the heart of Morocco. It was immediately apparent as soon as we arrived that this was a city with nothing to prove. While I expected the same hard-sale hustle we experienced in the souks of Marrakesh, Fez proved to be much different. Don't get me wrong, the actuall haggling was just as intense with opening prices often being 10 times what I ended up paying in the end, but here you were much more at ease to come and go at shops without feeling pressured to buy.
While we were most interested in sourcing some carpets in Fez, our first big purchase turned out to be in the tanneries. In the heart of the old medina is a large tannery that has remained virtually unchanged for the last 9 centuries. They dying pits were amazing (pictures below). They dye leather from every animal imaginable and turn them into everything from shoes to jackets. I was on the hunt for a black leather jacket and was able to find one after a lot of haggling back and forth. The price started out around $800, which would have been a fair price considering I was getting a custom made jacket tailored specifically for me. After some friendly discussion and literally walking away twice we were able to get two custom jackets for under half of that.
When it came to finding amazing carpets, there were no shortage of options. We read some reviews of different carpet shops in the area, and while it's hard sometimes to separate sales pitches from reality we ultimately decided to go to Coin Berbere, a shop that had many positive reviews for being low pressure and good value. We had actually ran into the owner Abdul the night before and had found him to be extremely pleasant. Coin Berbere has a good mix of both new carpets as well as "old" (not new, but less than 100 years old) and "antique" (older than 100 years). We went into the process looking forward to the experience as much as the actual carpets, and we weren't disappointed at all. While determining the fair price for a carpet can get a bit tricky, especially when you are talking about old and antique carpets, let's just say that we got a very, very good deal. All in all it took about 4 hours, several cups of tea, and a round of coffee in addition to pulling out almost every single carpet Abdul had in his two stores. We ended up with three carpets, two old and one new, as well as a bunch of pillow covers that we will use for our sunken outdoor seating. Best of all, we left the shop with a huge smile on our faces, and a new close friend. Abdul was top notch all the way around.
To add to the list of wonderful people and wonderful experiences we had in Fez, we also had a cooking class at our riad. Compared to our previous class, this one exceeded all expectations. Fatima, or teacher was brilliant. She had an natural eye for presentation and was a superb cook. She let us pick out all the dishes we wanted to make, took us shopping in the various markets for all the ingredients that we would need, and then helped us to make what was probably one of the best meals we would have in Morocco. While the experience was amazing, what was truly special about it was the opportunity to get to know Fatima better. Like Abdul, her kindness and hospitality was truly humbling. Now I know why Fez is the heart of the nation. Everyone that goes there and meets the people leave a little bit of their heart behind. XO Morocco.
Lastly, a few randoms from around the city....