Sep 9:  Chefchaouen to Fes


Up 7am.  No sleep (4th in 6 nights) but not tired.  Left 8:50am.

Rest stop in Ouezzane 9:30am-9:45am with 2 dogs who needed baths.

He licked my nose and wanted to bite.  I fed him my hand as a chew toy!

Let's all enjoy a chew.

I blowed on him and he liked it just like Odessa likes being blowed on.

Stopped in Volubilis at 11:25am for 1.5 hr.  This is an area of Roman ruins that were mostly destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake (8.5-9.0 magnitude). 

Mosaic floor at House of Orpheus.

House of Orpheus entry.

Another House of Orpheus floor.

Yet another.

And.

Olive press.

House of Orpheus.

Basilica.

Basilica.

Basilica.

Basilica.

Capitol.

Capitol.

Basilica.

Triumphal Arch.

Brothel.  Bev & Percy reenacting something.

Stone penis at the brothel.  Abdoul or the local guide said people rub this for good sexual luck.  Rebecca rubbed it.  HOTT.

Triumphal Arch.  This stuff is old, BTW.  Volubilis was founded no later than 40 AD and the Romans left in 285 AD.  CHRIS!  Someone famously called me over to take a photo here.

Governor's house vestibule.

Hercules house jacuzzi.  They had jacuzzis back then.  Being elderly, I also remember this.  And that SNL sketch with Bill Murray.  "That rock is too large.  I could lift a smaller one."

Labours of Hercules.  For the last year I've intended to identify 12 labors/goals for me to accomplish.  My brain hasn't had a moment of free time to ponder this.

Mosaic of Dionysos and the Four Seasons, the best-preserved in Volubilis.  Frankie Valli himself isn't this well-preserved.

Decumanus Maximus, the main road.  Makes up for the same photo I took in Ephesus last year that I lost.

Decumanus Maximus looking the other way.  I wish Finkus Maximus was our guide here.

Decumanus Maximus.

Venus House.  Diana Bathing.  DAT ASS.

Morocco is identical to Turkey so far.  Landscape, cities, Roman ruins, cultural show later tonight.  I've been to too many countries.

At 1:30pm we arrived in Meknes.  Had lunch at Gambrinus, the oldest restaurant in Meknes.  I had a kefta tajine.  It was covered with peas and I had to remove them one by one the same way I'd remove lumps of feces if dozens of them were served on top of my lunch.  Found out Sana is 21, Ayaka is 22, Rebecca is 22, Dick is 58 and Percy is 60.  So I'm in the middle with as much as a 10-year gap between me and the next person.  After lunch we got ice cream across the street.  I'm not included in "we".  I didn't see anything satisfying enough.  I won't settle for a shitty option when it comes to OkCupid or ice cream.

We met our local guide, also called Abdellah, for a tour of the town.

Bab Mansour, the gate to the kasbah and the largest gate in Africa.

Place el Hedim, the square opposite the gate.

Entry gate to the mellah (old Jewish quarter).  Abdellah 2 said Jews were successful purveyors of salt, and "mellah" translates to "salt".  Also, "salary" comes from "sel" for the same reason.

Agdal Basin, the lake in the kasbah.  Like that lake in Luxor!  See Egypt travelogue.

Dar el Makhzen in the distance.  Remains of Moulay Ismail's palace.  He was in charge 1672-1727.

Agdal Basin again.

Heri es Souani, the granary used by Moulay Ismail to store food.  Abdellah 2 said many guide books refer to this as Ismail's stables, which I thought we were going to, but they're in a different spot.

There used to be a roof but it collapsed in the 1755 quake.

Artsy archy shot.

The inside portion of Heri es Souani.  There's an underground aqueous cooling system.

We visited a mosque (I'm sure it has a name) but it was bad for pics, and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, which had a barrier keeping people away from the inner section with the tomb, but people kept going around it anyway.  I couldn't tell if it was a Muslim-only thing.

Gate on the way out of the medina.

Next we went to a metal and embroidering shop.  The first of the usual kickback places where G Adventures (and Contiki, and Intrepid) good-heartedly tries to pump money into the local economy at a shop that sells stuff that wasn't on my shopping list.  I'd been using my iPhone to take these notes and then transferring them to my physical notebook whenever I had the chance.  My note at the metal shop says "transcribing time".  OK, I messed up.  I should have gotten on one knee outside the shop, looked at my watch, and announced "IT'S TRANSCRIBING TIME!" to an absent audience.  Fortunately no one lingered too long to buy stuff here.

At 4:40pm we left Meknes for Fes.  Arrived 5:30pm at Hotel Moumia.  Very nice, and a real bathtub.

At 7pm I went down to the hotel bar and had some badly-needed alcohol with Nikky, Sophia, Jonathan and Emilie (The Quebecers).  I had 4 250-mL Heinekens (25 dh each).  Tiny beers like that are easy to suck down quickly.  This was our first easy cheap access to alcohol, but Nikky and I did some research to find a real non-hotel bar in the area.  Apparently there's one nearby.  But this hotel bar has free popcorn.  Mmmm.

Left at 8pm for a cultural show (I think it cost 250 dh) at Palais La Medina.  Everyone but Sophia went.  Had pastilla as a starter, which was on my list of 8 things to eat/drink, but it was made with chicken and not pigeon, and was too sweet and cinnamonny for a meat dish.  Entree was chicken tajine.  Then the show started.

Berber musicians playing instruments and twirling shit.  Check out the guy with the head.  I wanted to give him a razor blade so he could shave his ridiculous hair off and become presentable, or slit his wrists, whatever his preference might be.

Dancer came into the crowd selecting guys to drag on stage.  I hate this.  I fought her off so she hassled someone else.  What would be entertaining about me standing on stage motionless watching the dancer and a few random guys look at each others' feet and pretend to have a good time?  My brain cannot induce dancing in response to any stimulus.  It works differently.  I have a producer/creator brain.  If I wanted to be involved in this dancing silliness it would be as the leader, and I'd make the whole thing entertaining per my standards.  Something like this.

I had 2 glasses of wine with dinner to try to maintain the buzz.

Maybe I've been travelling too much, but is this different from any other cultural performance I've seen?  We get it...some cultures produce actual entertainment, and some just do generic boring ethnic dancing.

Ooh, a magician producing a bird!  This is what Morocco is known for, above all else.

Magicians always remind me of the comment on jumptheshark.com (which no longer exists) referring to Charles Nelson Reilly's Lidsville character as "a sinister (and gay) magician".

Magician removing Leann's bra using only the power of his mind and roofies.

Fat belly dancer.  There was a fake wedding after this.  Just like in Turkey.

Back to the hotel 11:30pm.  All of us were tired but I had a nightcap in the hotel bar to transcribe.  Bar was all dudes and stank of smoke.  The bartender already knows me.  His English isn't good, but he automatically goes for a Heineken as I approach the bar.  If he was a really good bartender, he's look at his watch, see it's after midnight, and chirpily ask "cider, Crispy?"  (Tradition at The Crispy Comedy Show...I switch from Heineken to Angry Orchard after midnight.)  Had 2 small Heinekens.  To my room 1am.  I smelled like cigarettes.  Bed 1:10am.


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