Sunday night we got home from spending the weekend in Fes. Unlike Rabat Fes is inland and not on the coast. Because of this we were told several times by Dr. Amster that it would hotter than what we’ve been experiencing the last two weeks… she was not kidding. We checked the weather report several times leading up to the weekend, all of which said it was going to be almost forty degrees Celsius and sunny while we were there. As someone who has gotten a sunburnt in September, in Canada, I was not thrilled about this weather prediction. Fes is also the religious capital of Morocco, we were instructed to try to dress more a little conservatively than we had been in Rabat (e.g. covered arms, full pants). While I welcomed the additional protection from the sun, I was not looking forward to soaking through all my clothes with sweat.
The drive from Rabat to Fes was around three and a half hours. As we moved further and further inland you could feel yourself surpassing “dewy” and becoming just plain sweaty. During one of our pit stops a number of us had our first experience with a traditional squat toilet after having been spoiled with western toilets in Rabat. Let’s just say there’s a learning curve.
In Rabat we got to visit some of the most amazing architecture I have ever seen. Hidden throughout the narrow streets of the Fes Medina are huge intricately decorated shrine dedicated to different important Moroccan saints. There are also numerous traditional Moroccan homes called riads all throughout the Medina. These riads are huge beautifully decorated homes that would have housed several generations of wealthy Moroccan families. Today many of them have been converted into other things like hotels, museums, and even schools. We had the pleasure of having lecture and dinner on Saturday in one of these converted riads. Even the hotel that we stayed at was designed in a similar style.
What was almost more impressive than the intricate architectural design in Fes was functionality of the architecture. Many of the traditional homes are built with the rooms going around a central open court yard with a fountain. This design is meant to keep the house fresh and cool during the hot summer months. This design is so good at keeping in cool air that many of us thought there was air conditioning in the hotel when we first arrived but it was just the layout of the hotel.