New Continent, New Experiences

As sad as it is, I have completed my last large travel while abroad. This past weekend I went to Fez, Morocco. I knew before coming to Aix that I wanted to travel to Morocco, I just did not know how excellent it was going to be. Being that Morocco is an Arabic speaking country with a very different culture from Europe overall, it was an experience unlike anything else. I feel very lucky to be able to experience so many different cultures and ways of life within a two-hour flight. The Moroccan people in Fez were nothing but welcoming. When my friends and I made it to our Airbnb, we were greeted with tea and great suggestions of what to do around Fez.

View of the city of Fez from my Airbnb  Painted wood work of circles and flowers in my AIrbnbPanoramic view of Fez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day one, we walked through the maze of the old city of Medina. There are endless thin, busy streets with artisan shops and food. Every street had its unique twist. If you paid enough attention, you could find art on every street. From the mosaics of tile to the woodwork of balconies, there was always something to see and admire. Being here gave me a great opportunity to purchase nice souvenirs for others at a cheap price.

We also did a cooking class in someone’s home. We learned how to make couscous and vegetable Tajine. We ended up staying way past the end of our class to talk to our new friend Yassine and his mother Maria. We learned all about Moroccan culture and got to listen to Arabic music he and his mother enjoyed.  This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Donkeys going through the streets of Medina  Pottery shop with Tagines in the front; lots of decorative plates and blowls on the walls.Before we cooked the vegetable TagineMadrasa in Fez. Looking out over a balcony to balconies across the street.  Madrasa in Fez

Day two, we explored the outskirts and the new city. We were able to see the Jewish quarter, get beautiful panoramic views of the city, and learn more history of Morocco. We also ended up going back into the Medina to appreciate more of the architecture of the mosques, schools, and palaces. We visited the blue arc and a rainbow art street where there were more, unique artisans selling their products.

Men working in a pottery shope.  Man cutting beautiful painted tilesA large loom with right blue yarn.Rainbow street of art - paintings, rugs and many other types of artwork hanging on both sides of the street.  Looking out over the last place where they produce leather in medevial style

Studying in France has allowed me to take courses involving the culture and history of immigrants from the Maghrib (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) to France. By taking my courses in Muslim Presence in Europe, French Colonialism in North Africa, and my friend taking Islamic Art, we were able to get more than expected out of our trip. We were able to better appreciate the art and culture while teaching each other about what we were seeing and experiencing. We were able to learn and witness more of the religion of Muslims. We were also in the only city of Morocco where geometric art continued after the rule of the Ottoman Empire. This type of art can be seen from as old as the 14th century to the present day.

Out of all the places I have been in so far, this was the most culturally immersive. I was not only doing tourist things but also mingling with locals and furthering what I have learned in my courses. Fez was vibrant in culture, people, and art. I hope to come back to Morocco in the near future and explore more of what the country has to offer.

Student in the Al-Attarine Madrasa with a fountain in front.

Art in Al-Attarine Madrasa  The Blue Arc - surrounded by blue art work on the walls above and around it.

As-salam,

Sierra