March 14, 2016
We have been in Fez twenty-four hours. I’m writing this from the center courtyard of Anne’s riad’s courtyard. The home is owned by an American couple living in New York City, self-described “world travelers” who have this as a second home but rent it out, perhaps thinking that they will live here at some later date. It is a grand place but cold, just as my friend Mary Chris warned. One thing about this trip is that no piece of warm clothing has gone unused. In Sicily I needed my long bike tights and numerous layers of cycling clothing. Later off the bikes in Palermo I wore my light black wool base layer under a blouse and often had my down vest under my leather jacket. I bought that vest for my cross-country bike trip but have used it more on this trip than I ever did on the bike adventure.
Here in Fez, the weather is different than in Sicily, warm during the day if in the sun but then the dry air cools off quickly in the evening. In the house, the sun never gets inside and there is no heat; it remains very chilly. As I write this, I have on wool sockets, some yoga pants over my long bike tights, the short sleeved base layer covered with a heavier long-sleeved wool base layer on top of which I’m wearing a fleece top and then one of Anne’s sweaters on top of that all. My knees are still cold. Up on the flat roof of Anne’s house, I was warmer today in the sun than I’ve been on the whole trip. The sun felt so perfect warming up my bones.
It is, of course, wonderful to be with Anne. She has prepared lovingly for our visit. We have our own large room with multi-colored rugs, tiled walls, and massive wooden doors. It is right off the courtyard where I’m writing. Anne lives in the medina and her place is down a tiny lane; I hear some kids playing out there now. From her roof, you see an incredible view of the medina, the old medieval part of Fez, where many, many people live. The medina is a maze of tiny paved paths; beside just walking, there are occasional donkeys and mopeds on the alleys that are bit larger — but not large enough for cars of eve the tiniest types. This morning Abdu brought us over some breakfast items, traditional Moroccan baked goods, one like a corn bread cut in half with a Laughing Cow spread between its two pieces and the others sweet, one with an almond butter in it and the other with some preserves in it. Really, they were much better than the overly sweet baked goods one is served for breakfast in Italy.
Today we joyfully slowed our pace. A little after noon, Anne took us for a walk through the markets close to her house here in the medina, we had mint tea and coffee at a cafe just outside the entrance to the medina, we got Moroccan dirhams so that we have some money to spend, and we bought a Moroccan spice blend from the old man selling spices. We came back and sat on the roof and watched the buildings and minarets in the day’s different lights. Anne went off to teach a class while I read awhile while Richard napped, still up on the roof. It is so wonderful to not be on our feet all day.