Updated: Feb 20
Today we met with Mohammed Benabbou, president of Association of Moroccan Friends of Environment. For me it was another test of my French skills - explaining who we are, what we want and why we need it and then understanding the replies. I have a feeling that by the end of the expedition I will have to learn how to explain the purpose of expedition in at least nine languages. By now I have done it in four, five to go.
The meeting went well, we were even invited to take part in an event that will involve a hundred students from 11 moroccan schools up north near the city of Ouazzane - it will be a practical event dedicated to the World Wetlands Day, where children will learn everything about the biosphere of the lake near Ouazzane. We will learn with them and share our findings with you. Looking forward to that!
After making friends with Mohammed, who is a man passionate about sharing his knowledge about the importance of environmental consciousness, we headed for the bookstore to buy some books on Arabic. It is still a challenge to me to understand the difference between Moroccan Arabic and Standard. Especially when the word “now” in moroccan is “daba” and in standard - “Al’An”. At least our reading skills are growing everyday. Though I wish I could understand what I’m reading and in which version of Arabic I am reading it.
We couldn’t leave Fez without paying a visit to the Chouara tannery - the place where local manufacturers dye the skins. This was once the place where they dyed fez hats with the colours that they extracted from crimson berries.
Since I knew the Medina quite well now, I quickly navigated my way to one of the shops and located the terrace that opened the marvellous view to the famous tanneries. The smell was terrible, but tolerable. People were working under the burning sun, while the kids were running around rooftops like Disney characters. The djellaba helped a lot in not getting overheated - a brilliant thing to have.
It is +26 now in Fez. None of us have sunburns, blisters, or anything like that. Let’s wait and see. Right now the heat is tolerable, but there is a limit to everything. If we were relaxing on the beach, reading books - it would be bliss. But we have work to do, and the high temperatures don’t really make things easy.
After that we went on to visit the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University Campus in southern Fez. There are numerous departments and faculties there, but unfortunately for us the students and professors are currently trying to pass their exams - they don’t have much time for a chat. We entered one of the lecture halls and saw students trying to make last additions to their papers, while the professors were collecting them.
I sat down on one of the benches, and the professor asked me to submit my paper as well. I told him I didn’t have one.
“You should”, he said. I smiled and said, that I am there to look around. He told me that it is not forbidden and I felt free to explore.
The students are chatting, laughing, walking there and back, trying to learn something they need. There are many students in the campus, many girls as well. Everyone has the opportunity to get admitted to a University but the exams are difficult and not everyone gets to finish their degree.
The sun has set and we are riding the student bus back to the city, the ride costs 2,5 dirhams (not a lot - 0,25 euro).
Back in the Medina we had dinner at Ahmed’s - we befriended the man, he seemed open hearted and made some good meat that evening.
After dinner I got a chance to get a haircut. Ahmed was sitting near my chair and kept bombarding me with hundreds of questions about Russia. He looked through my facebook and kept turning on videos, showing them to the barber. The barber is a big fan of Barcelona football club - every single corner of the barbershop was covered with their symbolics.
Ahmed says hello to all of you and wishes us good luck in the rest of Morocco.
Everyone is fine, thanks for your letters.