Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hello My Friend.

Woke early. Walked new city. Bus station. Fes. Nice shower. Small Cafe. City Noise. Tanneries. Koinichiwa. Argan Oil. Nice couple. Dinner.

The rooster crowing to wake us up is almost normal now. The cats wandering the streets are almost normal now. The tight streets are almost normal now. Almost.

But not quite.

We woke up early to catch the bus out of Chaouen to Fes. We walked out of the tiny Medina into North Africa. Real North Africa. It was run-down apartment complexes, vagrants on the street, and foreign smells good and bad. We stumbled into a plaza. We enjoyed our morning by watching the clouds pass over the mountains from an empty cafe. And we walked to the bus station as the sun rose into the sky.

I always say how much things look like California or Nevada, but I think it's just because those areas have the extensive landscapes and range of landscapes to fit almost any description. Why travel the world when you can go to california. Basically, the new city of Chaouen looks like a run-down version of Palm Springs, the mountains in the distance look like a shorter version of the Sierra Nevada, and everything takes a surreal tone because there is a North African city in the midst of my deja vu. A land familiar and utterly unknown. I feel like two people in two places in two times.

The bus ride was nice. A beautiful stroll through the country, with the Vidas de la gente passing before me. Jarrod and I played gin rummy for the second portion of the trip. Golden sun, golden hills, flimsy blue playing cards. When we got into Fes we checked into our hotel and enjoyed some much needed showers. The house is 300 years old.

We ate lunch at a small cafe in the late afternoon. A cafe outside the blue gate, full of locals, yelling smoking, playing cards. City noise; Fes is much louder than Chefchaouen.

Down the small street of the Medina, store fronts and calls. Donkeys laden with goods. Cats pecking at morsels. A tourist here, a tourist there. English, Spanish, French, Arabic. Confusion. Noise. And suddenly a mosque. An alley. And we are in an enormous leather goods store; the site of the oldest functioning tannery in the city. We are on the terrace. We are seeing the city at sunset. Wow.

We trek back up the hill. We hear many calls. “English? Spanish? Japan? Hello my friend. You see my shop. You look you like you buy. You no like you no buy. No problem. Come come.”

“Koinichiwa.”

“Arigato.” the calls never stop. All the way to the plaza.

But there we sit and watch the life pass by. And then there are kids by us. Running, jumping...flipping. Parkour. Going crazy, showing off, succeeding.

Then we sit down to dinner with a nice couple from New Zealand.

Bed, sleep.