The bus basically retraced our travels from Meknes to Casablance back to Fes...country in this part of Morocco is dry, altho we did cross on large river flowing just a bit away from Casablance...mostly olive trees, agave, opuntia cactus(beaver tail), and a scrubby bush with sharp spines 3 or so feet tall, otherwise the land looks bare...nothing planted in most fields, red soil. You can tell whenever there is water available because the plots are green and growing lots of vegies. We passed many grape vineyards but they looked stressed for the most part, there are lots of grapes in all the marketplaces we've been in...green and red table type...Muslims cannot drink wine but enjoy grapes alot!
The hostel was a short taxi ride from the bus station but getting there it was closed, according to the LP it is open from 8 til 10, 12 til 3 (we arrived at 4), and 6 til 10.
So we sat on the stoop for 2 hours until about 615 a fellow came by and told us(and 6 others waiting) that because it was the last day of Ramadan the hostel was closed!
A bit pissed since they didn't even have the courtesy to tack a note up, we located a hotel just a few blocks away, Hotel Royal, and he gave us a good deal so we stayed 2 nites...not as cheap as the hostel but he was nice and has hot h2o and no closing hours!!
Next day we went to Medina...well, it took us several hours to find it, we got off track from the LP map and on the 3rd time around finally found the right gate and sat down to watch the people and have tea. Then once we began to explore within 15 minutes got separated from Jake! Luckily, we had made contingency plans to meet at the tea place if this happened
Yes, like the LP says it is easy to get lost in this medina of over 600 passageways and 600,000 people living within 1 sq mile! This is the oldest "living" medina in the world, that is to say, people still live, work, and generally do all there day to day stuff here just as they have done for over 500 years. Problem is it's water/sewers were designed then as well, hmmm...altho it had more than 60 fountains at one time many are no longer functioning. The parks nearby(remember, we walked around awhile before actually getting in) are in bad shape, what must have been a major water course thru them is completely dry, trees, etc. look in tough shape.
Fes is the heart of Morocco's culture, trades, and education...many Moroccans consider Fes their true "capital", even tho Meknes was for centuries before the French moved it to Rabat. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO but $ has not been forthcoming in the amount necessary to make the upgrades and repairs to infrastructure which would ameleorate the deterioration which is evident. Even so the "new" town is prospering with broad boulevards of well cared for green trees etc. so water is available just seeming to be apportioned to the areas frequented by tourists and mid/upper classes. This is not to say nothing is being done in the medina, there was evidence of walls being shored up, cracks repaired...after all tons of tourists are drawn to the old medina daily...we often got caught in crowds of busloads of foreigners following guides thru the narrow passages. In fact, this was the only way we found the tannery by following a bunch of German tourists.
In the eve, Bon, Jake & Mari took off to the bus station and got tickets for trip to Rissani on the edge of the desert...thot it was lvg at 9 am, but once they got the tickets it turned out it was 9 pm. One of those language deals where the gal spoke some English and when they asked if it left in the morning she said yes, but probably didn't understand the qs and didn't want to admit it so just said yes!
So here we are a whole day left in Fes where there's not much more we are interested in seeing...at internet. Bus ride is overnite which is good in that it saves us O.N. accomodations...we arrive at 5 am!