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Out meeting Fes

What a colorful and spirited places Fes is. Been here for five whole days now, and it takes your breath away in more than one sense. The medina of Fes (the old medieval part of the city) was founded in the 9th century and it’s here that the real spirit of the city shines through. The medina is considered as one of the most extensive and best conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world and so it was the first place in Morocco to get acknowledged as a Unesco World Heritage site. It’s impressive how the medina has been able to conserve a lot of its ancient functions and life styles as a place of trade. It’s a constant bombardment of impressions and spending a whole day in the labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways can easily leave you exhausted when you’re not used to it. Especially during the summer heat.

This is definitely a city you need to be somewhat prepared for. Otherwise you might get to spend more money that you have anticipated and leave with a suitcase busting with all sorts of different items from the souqs. This is definitely a place of opportunism. Money makes the world go around here, and everyone is just trying to make a living on a day to day basis. You can buy almost any kind of crafted work here and while some people run their own little shop as artisans others make their income by more unstable methods. Selling cannabis is one example, showing tourists around as unofficial guides is another. Some people will make use of more aggressive selling techniques in their shop to get a slice of the tourist dirham (the currency of Morocco); others know that a more friendly approach goes a long way. Luckily the vast majority is of the latter kind.

You can be sure however, that you, sooner or later, will attract some attention as a tourist carrying a bag. As a photographer you’re bound to carry a bag at some point, and in the afternoon, when there are most people in the streets, it doesn’t take much standing still for me before someone makes an approach in hope of making an earning from a tour.

Jamal is a great guy who has been very helpful to me here in Fes with information and knowledge about the city and Morocco in general. He told me, that when he go out and about the medina carrying a bag even he will get accosted by people out there seeing him as a tourist. It doesn’t take much in other words, and so that’s how it is with opportunism. 

In other words, making your way through the Fes medina you will meet a lot of different people, and some are just genuinely interested in having a chat and hear where you’re from. I’ve found that some of the most valuable experiences I’ve had has been to just slow down, take a seat for a moment and share a smile and some information with these people.

Visiting a new place usually means that I have to spend some days initially getting to grips with the new culture and all the impressions that meet me. Fes has been no exception, and my camera didn’t leave my bag very much the first few days. My 6th day here is well under way and I am constantly adding to my bucket of experiences.

Below you can see a selection of photographs that illustrates some my experiences from my first days in Fes medina. I’ll try to share some more with you here from Morocco, but for now feel free to share any comment you might have, here or on my facebook page. Enjoy.


2 responses to "Out meeting Fes"

  1. Alex des Forges posted a comment on August 29, 2011 at 5:14 pm Permalink

    Hey Martin…
    Alex here… I was staying at El Menia with Monika. Glad to find your web site from the business card you gave us! You have a very smooth writing style and your photos are inspirational.
    I will post a link to my photos when I put them online.
    Hope you’re still enjoying Morocco!

  2. Martin Aggerholm posted a comment on August 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm Permalink

    Hi, Alex… Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments. I will look forward to see some of your own photographs from your trip. I’m still enjoying myself very much here in Morocco. I’m now in Meknes doing new discoveries until september 7th. Some places I need to see around Meknes, and I will try to post some more images along the way, either here or on my facebook page: http://on.fb.me/oALDjO
    Say hi to Monika for me.