April 25, 2012


It was around midnight. I had been having dinner at a friends house and was trying to find my way back in the small streets of the medina.

"Bonjour, welcome, you speak English Spanish French?"

A little guy was walking along and the way he was smiling at me with his bright eyes gave me a feeling I wanted to get to know more about him.

"What are you doing so late, all of you kids,  here in the streets?

Are there no classes tomorrow?" It was fridaynight and I knew most of them had been eating couscous with their families. But I was confiused on wether they had to go to school or not on saturdays here in Fès.

In stead of answering he asked me in what language I preferred to be spoken to. I could not hide a smile and asked him what he all had to offer.

"Moroccon and French from school and English and Spanish I learned here in the Medina from the tourists!"

Wanting to check this out  I asked to try English.

From that moment on, he was discussing  and telling me about everything he knew, his family, his friends here in the medina, his big brother who was an official guide,

but I should not ask his brother to show me around. He could do this as well and it even did not matter if it was Fès, Marrakech, Mèknes...He knew them all and he could make me a good price.

I really enjoyed him, he was not pushy but he was so good in selling and he was such a charming talker.

His English was perfect and I was wondering how long he had been listening and learning.

"Oh us kids, we run around here in the streets from as soon as we can walk, and so I just learned. I'm eleven now" he said and looked as if he could graduate from highschool any day.

With this enjoyable midnight walk I had arrived in no-time at the riad.

"So it is a deal?" he asked. Tomorrow or so I guide you around and I charge you 300 Dirham for a whole day.

"well, that still is a lot of money!" I smiled. Not knowing if he now was serious or not.

"Lady listen, he said wisely. You are staying at this riad, I know the prices. It s too much you pay here. You should move to the hotel where my mother works. She can make you a good price and then we can look on this guiding thing again."

I could'nt stop laughing and I told him he urgently should get his own cards so people could contact him.

"no need for that, my name is Mohammed and you can find me every evening outside the coffeebar. Just ask for that, there is only one American coffeebar in the medina"

Off he went in the night, all on his own, disappearing around a corner.

Bye Mohammed, bye little guide.I 'm convinced and hope one day we will hear from you...

April 24, 2012


I felt for something else... Arriving in Morocco and not jumping into the wild adventure with a Grand Taxi. It was early, the sun gave the impression that everything was whitewashed, and there she was: the bus to the "Centre". 
We looked at each other and on a fresh and clean morning like this you could still step into this adventure. Was it indeed a greater adventure than a taxi where a door all of a sudden actually opened and then with some luck closed and kept close during your trip? No, this was OK we decided. 
"You pay when you get off,"  the chauffeur was screaming to all of us getting on the bus and this immediately created a feeling of recognition. 

The famous expression "pay what you want" was revealed to me by a Moroccan who told me this was a way to get much more out of it  than they ever dared to ask, and this ''pay'' but in the end seemed to me to go out into this same Moroccan direction. 
Perhaps it was working on a kind of point system? The ride made it clear that he certainly deserved his 2 euros. Frequently he stopped and shouted something to someone in which I could tell that he suggested that a person should get off at the next stop. Sometimes with some extra persuasion because it was also clear that his instructions were not always shared, sometimes there was some hesitation and a conscious person could still negotiate to yet make it to another stop. 
When I myself wanted to get off, this was clearly a very suspicious act  looking at the expression at the drivers face.  
Whether I knew where I went? Whether I was sure it was here that I wanted to get off. 
No, I did not know, but also at the next stop I would not know. I did not know where I was nor where I was going to.
There was however a clear reason for my sudden decision to pause my bustrip! To my amazement we just had passed a Carrefour supermarket. At home, this fact can not persuade me but despite the many places in Morocco that I had seen, this was the first supermarket ever! 
Would they also sell  Zwan TV  sausages? I wondered.  It seemed unlikely, but I knew with great certainty that there would be a separate department'' La Vache Qui Rit''. 
This belief had grown from the fact that every Medina in Morocco approximate and according to a personal opinion had almost as many signs of La Vache as there were like pictures of the king. 
I suspect that this first thing was a kind of worship that had grown through the years and nobody still  knew where it had started.  
somewhere she will show up and smile La Vache
Each Moroccan loves his king and images of him are in every house, riad and shop and yes, this could be somewhere understandable.  
Where this love for the cow came from was not clear and also completely unimportant, it was a fact and this fact was made clear in every city.  She looked, not always as bright as she should  but when one hit another corner there she was looking at you with that stupid grin as only La Vache can.  Sometimes her laughter was completely peeled of or bleached by the sun and she would look at you with 1 eye through the narrow streets of the Medina as if God saw you.  
But that obviously could not be the fact because we were in the realm of Another!

April 19, 2012


"Don't trust them" the Berber man said.
It was an early sun kissed morning and I was walking the ruins around Borj Nord. "Who's not to trust?"  I wondered.
"Them," he said, looking as if he finally had found an ally, turning his head towards the Medina. 

"Look here!"  
With a careless motion, he opened a crumpled plastic bag and pulled out a deep blue cotton blanket. 
"Nice, but I do not need one" I replied.  
"It serves anything" he said with a sad look. "And listen to what I tell you.   Tomorrow or maybe even later today,  when you walk the Medina these mafiosi there will for sure sell you these blankets for 3 times the price. My wife..." he nodded, this time towards the mountains "makes these rugs and it takes her 5 days. Five days! 250 Dirham I ask, that's no money! " 
"But I'm really not interested!" I tried...feeling this was a no go from there, deep inside...
The merchant in him did not gave up
"If you now buy from me then my family has food again for a week.
"120 Dirham" I said and got ready to leave, feeling some kind of pride that I had a point on the topic?!?!. 
He looked very unhappy as if he was bearing the full load of all the blankets in the Medina on his shouldersAbout 100 m further, the deal was closed. He remained unhappy to indicate that he had sold far below the price.  I did the same as I was left with something that I would probably try to hide for the rest of my life as I did not even like it.

The next morning I saw him again. This time very early while I was buying for breakfast in the Medina.  

He had a mule, loaded with blankets he was delivering to the souks in the main shopping street.
He smiled at me but I could notice he did not recognise me. I was one of the many faces, one of the many he had convinced .... 

I smiled back. 
I told him I had one of these.
"They are the best" he said "My wife makes them and they are all round."

Moving to Morocco, I thought I'd leave the blanket to our new house owners.
I told them it was all round.
I got a good price.

April 16, 2012


9:00 a.m.

You can't get them any fresher!
Breakfast on the terrace. The sun is shining and the sky is deep blue, but the cold wind from the Middle Atlas makes me decide to, move quickly to the lower terrace. There at this time of year it is a lovely sheltered spot. Within two more months it will be very hot here and everybody will run the stairs to the rooftop to catch some wind under the shelter of the tent.
My daily routine before eating is to try check the internet. You can never be sure if it works, when it works and for how long it will work.
The breakfast is sweet, the flavors of Moroccan pancakes, chocolatecakes and  pastry, honey and fruit
The coffee and tea are delicious  
But my all time favourite at every moment of the day:  
freshly squeezed orange juice. FANTASTIC! 

April 06, 2012


Once it is past 3 o clock in the afternoon there is just no way of escaping. Everyone is rushing home for the traditional couscous with the family. Busses are transporting people from all over Morocco, just to be in time and celebrate. The smell of polution in the air is almost unbearable as all the 'petit taxis' are waiting to get travelers home. Trafic rules? What trafic rules? Where there is a road, there is for sure a way. Either to get in out or just pass.  Welcome in Morocco - Bienvenue à Maroc smiles the taxidriver. It is obvious that he and his car are friends for quite a while. They could both use a make-over :)