Fez is the second largest city in Morocco with over 1 million inhabitants. The biggest old town, Fès el-Bali, is a labyrinth of 9000 narrow alleyways surrounded by medieval walls.
I’m surprised how many travellers advise getting lost in La Medina (old city). I wouldn’t. Especially if you’re a girl, and if you’re claustrophobic.
My stressful experience left me wanting to get out of Fez ASAP. In fact, it’s the only place in the world that I never want to go back to again.
Get me out of Fez!
Witnessing kids dangling a poor guy over a huge ledge made me do a double take. An old man threatening a child with a knife in broad daylight was scary. But I felt terrified when a Moroccan man started shouting and chasing my friend and I through the maze of the city centre.
It all began when we arrived in La Medina. A man called Youssef approached our Petite taxi and insisted that he could show us the way to our hostel. I thought he worked there, so naturally we accepted. I should’ve been suspicious when he persistently offered to give us a tour of the city. Anyway, we declined and made it into our hostel, Dar Lalla Kenza.
I thought that was the last we’d see of our good friend Youssef…
After recovering from a stomach bug in the foetal position in the dorm, I was excited to see the big city. Ten minutes later after witnessing the knife fiasco, we were lost. A 10 year old kid could tell because he offered to take us to the main plaza. Although we were a bit hesitant to accept, we didn´t really have any other choice. His friends soon joined and led us through the winding streets of the maze.
All of a sudden, Youssef, appeared out of nowhere.
Getting chased through the old town
He started viciously spitting Arabic words at the 10 year old, clearly arguing that we were his “prize”. I later realised that even children are used to con tourists. Youssef repeatedly asked us where we were going. He turned livid when we said we just wanted to be left alone. That’s when we started power walking, then broke into a light jog. The kid was trying to help us get away, but Youssef followed us. I honestly felt he was going to start attacking us, or the kid. Luckily he just screamed a lot of swear words at us, and finally took off.
The creepiest part was when we spotted Youssef again sitting at the same cafe later on. Thankfully, he didn’t follow us back to the hostel…
Of course, Fes wasn’t all bad.
There are tons of beautiful riads and hostels in the old city.
Dar Lalla Kenza
Chilling on the roof of our hostel was the only peaceful escape from the chaos below.
The skyline reveals hundreds of uneven column buildings cluttered with satellite dishes. You can hear calls of Allahu Akbar (God is greater) echoing from Mosques. And at sunset, the horizon gives way to the mountains beyond the city.
Omáár, who worked in the hostel, played Pink Floyd all night and made us an incredible breakfast on the roof.
Fez was definitely an experience, although it was one that opened my eyes to the dangers of travelling. I don’t want to deter people from going to Morocco. In fact, the opposite. Even though this post sheds some light on the dark side of travelling, it was completely worth it to see the beautiful side.