Apocalypse now…oh, um I mean Fes Medina on Eid al-Adha

5 October 2014

I had to make up for the lack of water during the day with almost 2 liters of water in the late afternoon/evening, which meant nature was calling just before the pre-dawn morning call to prayer. This morning it was a little different; I only heard one mosque when typically there are three or four. Also for the first time I was paying close attention and I heard during this longer than usual call the mention of Ishmael a handful of times.

After that the city was silent for what seemed like hours. Typically you can hear the city buzzing with conversation, people moving about and kids yelling. Today I only heard a few random moo’s from a cow until about 10am when the city started to wake up. As we sat on the terrace we could see families congregate on their rooftops and begin the process of offering a sheep. And that is when the day started to feel like the apocalypse. The first step was cleaning of the animal which the animal adamantly protested and you could hear their cries before they were tied up and slaughtered. In the distance every now and then you could hear a women cry out in prayer which only made the hair on your neck stand up. The men of the family were responsible for the killing and skinning while the women cleaned and hung out the intestines to dry on the line as if they were hanging clean laundry. We could then see smoke rising from the streets and smell the burning of hair and flesh and see pieces of ash float by.

It was now late afternoon and we wanted to venture out to see what the streets looked like today. I thought I had been prepared for what I was going to see. Upon arrival here our host told us not to be alarmed when we see men covered in blood walking down the streets carrying knives as they are most likely butchers who work overtime today for the families who want to hire them. Additionally he told us about the fires we would see in the streets with sheep’s heads burning to remove the hair would all be ‘normal’ today. As we walked down the street everything became a bit too real and the holy shit look I had on my face I think made the kid walking by me stop to say bonjour with a smile and giggle as I barely noticed his presence until I heard is laugh. I don’t think there is a proper way to react to seeing men, teens and young boys with bloody clothes and others walking down the street with huge knives as others were smashing the ram’s heads into the ground trying to break off the horns or the small kid with a pocket knives scrapping off the burnt bits from the bones or the men dragging the skins up the street to pile them up.

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The look on this cats face pretty much sums it up

The look on this kitten’s face pretty much sums it up

Somehow in all of this, I missed the women walking by with a hacksaw and as Adam called it out, I couldn’t even process it to turn around as I could only look to the streets in front of me in shock. In my mind it was crazy, jaw dropping, what the hell is going on madness. The streets were otherwise empty and almost all shops closed expect for the one or two open restaurants and the few guys selling loose cigarettes. As you walked by the roaring fires with what looked like old mattress springs used as the grill I would sometimes run by hopping over bones and flesh and just crossing my fingers that the kids would take note of me going by and not go to stoke the fire or flick off a bone as I hurried by.

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We stayed mostly to the main alley ways only venturing off slightly and making a turn a round after we heard some shady looking characters offering up some hashish. The smells were so pungent and there was no place to get relief from the smells. After our short trip around the city we grabbed lunch before retreating back to the comfort of our riad’s roof top.

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Today’s Travel:  A walk on the main road of Fes Medina

Accommodations: La Maison Maure

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