It’s the people

Day 9
Fes, Morocco

It was an ominous start to the day. The mosques’ call to prayer awoke us at 4 a.m., a bit earlier than the usual sunrise alarm clock we’ve had for the last week. When we got out of bed a couple hours later, the skies — for the first time this trip — were overcast and rain looked probable. Despite this, after breakfast and already running low on clothing, we put up a wash. We pinned everything up on the roof deck’s clothes line to dry and went back to our room. Ten minutes later, downpours.

The rain continued throughout the day — which, as Friday, was relatively peaceful, as many Moroccans do not work. Gray skies and the occasional shower plagued us as we crisscrossed Fes in search of a means to get to Melilla tomorrow. Melilla is an autonomous Spanish city located on the northern coast of this country; on Saturday night, we’re taking an overnight ferry from there to Malaga, Spain, the next stop on my trip around the world. Originally, we’d planned a 6-hour bus there; this morning, we discovered that this bus actually departs at 1:30 a.m. — not happening. Our other option, we were told, was to take a 4.5 hour cab to Melilla at a cost of 1,300 dirham or almost $200USD — outrageous.

So, we spent much of today visiting two bus terminals, the train station, an airline ticketing agency and a travel agency (closed). We were finally able to book a private grand taxi heading directly there at noon tomorrow for 600 dirham, much more reasonable. Finding this deal was probably the day’s biggest success — as was finding my first cheeseburger for lunch!

When we got back to our riad, we had a drink with the owner and another young couple staying here. After dinner together, we all ended up in one of the home’s 600 year-old living rooms, where we easily had the best time of this adventure so far. And it wasn’t while gawking at tile work, slurping up bowls of harira soup or declining carpet salesman in the souq — we were simply sitting around, telling stories about our lives, our families, friends and our travels. It made me realize that over the next 71 days, I’ll see the sights, eat the foods and experience the cultures. But it’s truly the people who will make this trip what it is.

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