Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eurocco: Fez Old City rest of Week 1

Thursday through Sunday:

These days passed in sort of a blur, as the weather in the old city turned hot, not terribly hot but enough to really slow us down. Here's some things we did, although on which specific day seems rather hazy.

-We tried to leave a few times because we thought we had found a good place to live, but none of them ended up seeming right. We ended up settling on taking the apartment of our friends who would be leaving in two weeks, and staying in a combination of hotels and apartments of friends who were gone for weekend adventures. It was a really frustrating and difficult process and decision but hopefully it should make the last few weeks in Fez, which will probably be the hardest, a lot more comfortable and easy on the family.

-Made a few more trips to Ville Nouvelle (which I have mistakingly been calling New Fez, which is an older addition to the even older old city), Borj Fez and McDonalds. One day we had a marathon play place session at McDonalds while Cait figured some things out at her school, mainly finding a place to live. We must have gone through a half dozen on their free balloons as the kids loved having us blow them up and then letting them fly around. In our defense, we only got one for each kid, but then the workers kept bringing in more and more. We also had an unsuccessful second attempt at the play area in the mall, with an incident of poorly cleaned up potty training mess from another kid. It might be a while before we go back there.

McDonald's balloon play

-Explored the old city. The kids really liked playing soccer in the streets and chasing the ball wherever it would roam. We bought two cheap balls from Carrefore, and although one was stolen the next day, we're pretty sure it went to the poor kid whose dad was dead, so not a big deal. Each of the kids got some good one on one exploring time with mom and dad, and it was a lot of fun to see all the crazy little alleys and personality that a city this old develops. We successfully found the cheap egg sandwich place, with a filling sandwich of egg and fried potato for just under a dollar, a tailor where we tried to save my blue h&m pants that had developed a whole (it reopened a few days later) and that our friends had a doorbell that worked.

-Had a weekend to ourselves in Kyle and Vareena's apartment. We might have gone to a hotel on Thursday or Friday if our wonderful hosts didn't already have a weekend trip scheduled that would leave their house empty for us. By this point we were kind of in a holding pattern waiting for school to start, so we mainly hung around the apartment, cleaning, playing games, playing iPad, exploring and watching some of the hundred of channels that apparently come standard with even the cheapest apartment in the Middle East. Most channels, hundreds of channels, have middle aged Arab men talking about Islam or younger Arab men singing about it, often with images of holy sites in the background. I don't have any problem with those type of shows, I am just unsure as to why so many are needed. We did find some Arabic kids channels, with an assortment of familiar shows (Arthur, Bearenstein Bears) and old low budget unfamiliar English shows and low budget Arab shows. I'm not sure any Arabic was learned by our kids, but at least it seemed slightly educational.

-Lazed about. The weather turned rather hot our last few days in the old city, and with no AC or even fans, life slowed down in the walls of the old house. We were often in something of a survival modes with the kids, using as little energy as possible to keep them entertained and fed, while trying not to resort to using devices too often. Lounging in a dim, well-pillowed room while having pretend tea parties as the day seemed to stretch out forever felt very authentically Moroccan, problematic as that is. The only difficulty is that the woman a few floors up, whose windows let out onto the same central air-vent (a lot of Middle Eastern houses and apartments have a central air shaft meant to draw cool air down into apartments) demanded near-silence from our kids most of the day when her kids were apparently sleeping. Of course, a crowing rooster alarm so loud it sounded like it was in the same room as us went off from her apartment at 7 a.m. every morning, but I guess she didn't see the parallels. Oh well.

-Followed around stray cats. The kids were both obsessed with all the stray cars roaming around, but most especially Tallulah. We tried to make sure they didn't touch or overly bother the cats (although most seemed docile and disease free) but the kids were more interesting in just observing anyway.

Atticus's guilty look for touching a cat.

-Atticus made a friend, Junas, who we are pretty sure stole our soccer ball, but was still a nice kid and was patient in playing soccer with the younger and more sensitive Atticus.

-On Sunday night we had the first of our dinners with a family whose last name (as well as most of the first names) are outside of my memory. But we'll save them for another post.

Overall it was a surprisingly pleasant time in a place so different from what we are used to (not an ounce of public green space in the whole city as far as I can tell) but it was nice to see them adapt so well to new surroundings. When we went back in a few days ago (we are a week and a half removed now) Atticus was really sad not to be able to stay longer then the half hour or so it took us to get some sandwiches and go back to the hotel we were staying in just outside the old city (more on that later). We gave some serious thought to getting an apartment there, but the commute for Cait to the old city an back twice a day (she has a four hour break between classes) would have been killer. Thanks for treating us well old city.


  1. Did you find out your neighbor had a doorbell that worked because of an over-excited doorbell ringing session by a child?

    1. Nope, just my own detailed knowledge of Moroccan electrical wiring techniques. Or, there were two doorbells and three apartments and I was the only one brave enough to stand down in front of the door and press them both.