Fes is the second largest city in Morocco with over 1 million inhabitants. The biggest Medina, Fès el-Bali, is a labyrinth of 9000 narrow alleyways surrounded by medieval walls.
I’m surprised how many travel bloggers advise getting lost in La Medina. I wouldn’t. Especially if you’re claustrophobic or travelling solo as a female. I’m not trying to be negative or scare you off, but going out by yourself after dark in La Medina if you’re a solo woman traveller is a big no no.
Get me out of Fes!
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 streets.
It all began when we arrived in La Medina. A friendly man called Youssef approached our Petite taxi and insisted that he could show us the way to our hostel. He made it out as though 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 eventually made it into our hostel, Dar Lalla Kenza.
I thought that was the last we’d see of our good friend Youssef…
After lying in the foetal position for 2 hours to recover from my horrific stomach bug, I was excited to see the big city. What a mistake. Ten minutes after stepping outside, I witnessed a child nearly being stabbed and we got lost in the labyrinth. A 10 year old kid offered to take us to the main plaza. Although we were a bit hesitant to accept, we didn’t really have any other choice. I just wanted to get back into the public’s eye before it was dark. The kid’s 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 had been his “prize”. I later realised that even children are used to con tourists. Even this charming little boy was no different.
Youssef repeatedly asked us where we were going. He lost his cool when we said we just wanted to be left alone. I’d never seen someone so angry before. 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 wherever we went.
I’d never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life. I honestly thought he was going to start attacking us, or the kid. Luckily, he just screamed a lot of swear words, and finally took off.
Even creepier still, was when we spotted Youssef again sitting a few tables behind us at a cafe later on. He was watching us like a hawk, but thankfully, he didn’t follow us back to the hostel.
I felt betrayed by the whole experience. Even though I’d been terrorised during my time in Fez, I knew that there were beautiful places to see inside the city. Yet after my stressful encounter, I couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness anytime we walked outside.
In fact, I would be reluctant to return to Fes anytime soon. However, this post is not meant to deter people from visiting Fes or Morocco. Even though I shed light on the dark side of travelling, these cases are a rare occurrence. All I would say is be aware of the dangers, but don’t ever let it stop you from travelling. I won’t.