|Fayçal, Amin, Emily, me and Hattim visiting a fez factory in Fès|
It's a bit complicated how I ended up in Morocco this winter. I originally had other plans for my two-week winter break, and when those fell through I tried in vain to latch onto other assistants' holiday voyages. I was relating my woes to Emily, an assistant in Angers who I'd never actually met in real before, and she said her plans had similarly gone bust and she was thinking about heading to Fès to visit her friend Fayçal.
Fayçal ended up being an incredible host. Together with his friend Hattim, who lodged us, and various family members and friends, he made sure we got an authentic view of Moroccan life.
I've never before experienced hospitality like what we encountered in Fès. I had only the most tenuous of connections to Fayçal, yet his family and friends welcomed me as if I were an old friend. His parents hosted us for three delicious, elaborate meals (more on that in a later post), one of which was to celebrate the 16th birthday of Fayçal's sister Boutaina. I came as a stranger and left feeling like one of them.
|Fayçal, Boutaina, Mama Bouzoubaa, Amin, Papa Bouzoubaa, Hattim, and little Wael in their home.|
It wasn't just the Bouzabaa family that welcomed us. As we walked through Fès' ancient market streets one day, we ran into a man we'd briefly encountered playing a traditional Moroccan instrument in an alley of the Medina a few days earlier. Without hesitation, he invited us to partake in some "Berber whiskey": the delicious mint tea that's ubiquitous in Morocco.
Emily and I had some trouble communicating to a taxi driver the name of a café where we were meeting our friends. We went back to the restaurant where we had lunch, and the host there used a payphone to call Hattim on his own dime, and then accompanied us to a taxi so he could explain to the driver in Arabic where we needed to go. Like, who does that?
Also, I spied several people wearing this fantastical cloak with a pointed hood, like they were straight out of Whoville or something:
Man they're cool. My biggest Moroccan regret is not buying one.