Saturday, June 30, 2007

Life in Fes

As I write this in a waterlogged cyber cafe, the wind is howling outside and the rain is teeming into my sodden basement.....just kidding folks the scorching sidewalk forces us into the shade of our houses for the main part of the day. Unlike poor old England which has had about 10 years rain in 10 minutes it seems to me Fes has leapt into summer with a vengeance.

So what do we do in this scenario, well not much if you are me thats for sure unless you want to fry which is exactly what I did the other day convalescing on the terrace with a good book and turned a crispy black colour within hours. Apart from the pain it did make my teeth look whiter always a bonus!

So whats new in Fes well another big splurge in publicity heading our way after the Daily Mail and the Telegraph met us, that is Pizza Mike and myself, at Riad Fes the other week where we burbled on about our life here so that should be coming out soon. Also the rather big news that i picked up the other day is that the area around my fave spot at Mt Zalagh has been declassified from agricultural status to potential touristic developement status which is worrying and exciting at the same time.

I spend quite a bit of time with the small indiginous Berber community up there with their wattle and daub houses, cows in the living room, butter churn in the kitchen and outside a team of donkeys threshing the corn underhoof, whilst the kids chase the goats and chickens hither and thither, i love that phrase. So what will happen to these families when the big developers move in, I would really like to know as the region is set for such huge change i am sure most of them are totally unaware of the rapid progress. I almost would like to make it a personal crusade to raise awareness of the benefits or otherwise of this progress so that they can fully appreciate how this will impinge on their almost idyllic lifestyle.

They are not rich and probably do not own the house or the land it is on but i have rarely met a more hospitable,healthy, smiling, gracious people. On my several visits with various friends they are unfailingly impressed with the hospitality as we are greeted like long lost cousins, the cushions and tapis arranged under the shade of a massive olive tree or favoured spot. Sitting in perfect silence admiring the environs of the Medina beneath us very soon out comes the mint tea with a bowl of local olive oil and freshly baked bread to dunk it in and you can feel a perfect moment slyly creep up on you. With only a few words of Arabic to my repertoire the conversation does not exactly flow but its not needed they understand the need of Medina types to recharge their soul up in the hills with a cool off Atlantic breeze and perfect peace.

I have taken stressed out renovators and overworked estate agents up here and been able to chill them out instantly I call it my Zalagh Zen Experience. I would hate to think that progress would impinge on this experience but I guess it is inevitable so hope only that the prospective villas will not subjugate the Berbers too much to the vagaries of the 21 st Century as they work quite happily a few centuries behind us.

Thats got that off my crispy tanned chest so what else is new. Well Cafe Clock is threatening to open any week soon but realistically could be late August but it will be a welcome addition to the Fes culinary experience; might have to show Mike a classic Sunday Brunch theres nothing better than a good eggs benedict to start the morning, just need some english muffins and the Sunday papers!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Likely Lads

Hello Folks yes I am still alive and kicking and as I have just been sent this amusing snap from Mystere Mike thought I would post it here for a laugh. The lads on it are DJ Patt my old compadre from Vejer in Spain and Koko the jack of all trades in the Medina responsible for making half the furniture in the house. I am relaxing after a hard days relaxing as you can tell well you dont want to push things too hard at my age do you.

Fes is a wonderful place to be right now the summer is kicking in and although the surrounding countryside is quite parched and dry a short drive into the hills ensures peace and quiet and the fantastic hospitality of the Berbers. At the house a succession of friends are arriving from all parts of the globe including Steph and Carey who have been working in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso for two years one of the poorest countries in Africa. They fell in love with Fes immediately and will probably move here, it has that effect on people and if you dont believe it come over yourself and see if the bug gets you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Octagon Delight

Many thanks to Susannah Clarke for the image featured here which she took as one of a portfolio of photos for her forthcoming book. It will probably feature prominently on my upcoming website when I get round to it inshallah.

As we awoke today at the house Shawn an American friend came in bleary eyed from his dawn experience at the Merenids tombs Sacred Music gig to announce it was just a man with a horse and two musicians, in his typically dry and laconic tone, yea I got up at 4am for a freaking horse, adding I expected circus tricks at least. Oh well... the highlight conversation of the gig was one American turning to her companion as the sun rose over the tombs to point at the vast spread of the Medina in front and below them to announce Whats That! Would have to say that lady is spectacularly ill informed as to where she is and whats happening.

Halfway through the Music Festival and its only now that we are finding the hidden gems ie the free concerts at 11pm at Dar Tazi with wonderful call and response chanting and Dar Batha with an intense and invigorating Gnaoua demonstration last night that lifted the spirits skyward. The day is spent wandering the Medina soaking up the atmosphere and vibe of the Festival in keen anticipation of the afternoons activities. Sorry to have missed the inaugural appearance of a new Whirling Dervish extravaganza at Bab Makina the other night which by all accounts was top notch but i did manage to get my frantically bobbing head on national tv the other day whilst listening to some otherworldly Mauretainian chanting at Musee Batha...fame at last.