The last weekend we spent in Fez. It was a very nice hotel but the city is quite hot. There is a very noticeable difference between the old and new city of Fez, much more so than Rabat. The European section, designed by the French, has very wide streets and boulevards. Cafes line the sidewalks and there are many beautifully designed green spaces and fountains. The evidence of urban planning and European architecture is clearly noticeable.

Contrasting from the medina, which has very narrow streets, much less organization and planning. There is over a quarter of a million people that live within the medina and frankly, I have no idea how they know where to get out. Despite the unpleasant smell and tight spaces, it still has its great charms. The vendors are very nice and easy to work with. The lack of planning doesn’t mean there is no order, because there clearly is. Families have lived in those buildings for hundreds of years and will probably continue to live in them for decades. As an American, it really demonstrates the amount of unnecessary stuff that we have as a country. The United States has this tendency to tell people that they need to be more like us and their country will be great. But that only fits our definition of greatness. Moroccans certainly seem happier than Americans. They’re friendlier than most Americans as well and there are times when I feel more welcome in Rabat than I do in my own city. I believe that is something to be greatly valued in a society.

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