This afternoon I took a short walk through the Medina near my Riad, Maison Bleue. It’s Friday and many shops are closed, not for religious reasons but they traditionally close a day because the weekends are busier and better for business. I followed only one street for fear of getting lost. There are 9,400 streets in the Fes Medina, some 540 acres. It was named an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009 and is the largest site with that designation. Vendors can be very aggressive and one friend read that it is recommended to wear very dark sunglasses so a vendor can’t tell you are looking at his wares. I was treated very cordially this day and picked up a few small items. One man asked where I was from, and in English said ‘Welcome, Sister’ when I told him the US. Most visitors are from Europe, French being the largest group. Also heard and Spanish and German here and there.
I wanted to purchase a Hand of Fatima to hang on the wall. You’ve probably seen them; it is a talisman said to reflect feminine power and to ward off negative energy. The clerk showed me several that are pounded pewter with a stone on it (see them on the counter and over his shoulder). He started high but I took the price down a little. He was so pleasant, wrapped up my purchase and handed me a small hand of Fatima as a gift. Simple acts like this fill my heart with hope (and at times, my eyes with tears.) He then shook my hand then touched his heart, which seems such a sincere expression.
Next, I saw some nice shirts for men and talked to a very sweet clerk, but tried to explain I had no Dihram. He pointed to an exchange kiosk 3 doors down, so I returned and purchased a nice shirt for my husband. Simple, light weight, with small knots instead of buttons. He bowed towards me, touched his heart, and said Shurkran, thank you in Moroccan Arabic. They are such nice people, gracious and seemingly sincere. I realize they want me to shop, but still, I felt welcomed and safe.
I still believe tourism can save the world.