Sunday, July 22, 2012


My first impressions of Fes were intimidating. The streets were crowded with taxis, motorbikes, donkeys, and people; and even though I had just spent several hours in the company of four men and three male camels, for the first time I was very, very aware of being the only female in sight. I wasn't scared, just very uncomfortable.

We got up early this morning to take a car to Volubilis, a sight of Roman ruins about 80 minutes away. The countryside was pretty, but the drive was tense - I noticed about thirty minutes into it that we were drifting into the other lanes a little too often. I started watching the driver in the rear view mirror and noticed his eyes getting lower and lower and his blinks getting slower and slower. He was definitely falling asleep.

I wasn't sure what to do. I mustered up what French I could and asked him if we could listen to some music, hoping that would help. It did for a little while, but he soon started drifting again. Talking seemed to help wake him up, but I just couldn't think of questions I could ask inn French. I resorted to keeping a vigilant eye on him and, if he took a little too long to blink or if he didn't seem to be making a turn as soon as he should, I was ready to make a noise to wake him back up again.

Happily, I only had to clap my hands once to wake him up and we arrived at Volubilis in one piece. For simplicity's sake, the photos are going into another post. I really enjoyed seeing this site, and not just because columns, triumphal arches, and pictures of animals and heroes felt like coming home after so many mosques, pointed doorways, and calligraphy. The ruins here are remarkably well preserved, partially because the site was occupied until the 1700s, partially because it was completely covered in dirt after that time, and partially because the mosaics were made from local stones instead of manmade pottery or tile and thus withstood the elements better than others I've seen.

We hired a guide to show us around. He only spoke French, but Jason was kind enough to translate for me. As the two of them walked ahead of me on the path, I heard the guide ask, "The gazelle doesn't speak French?" Jason answered that I speak a little and understand some while I beamed over being called a gazelle for the second time on this trip (it happened earlier by a lamp salesman in Marrakech). I informed Jason that it would be perfectly acceptable for him to call me "The Gazelle" as my new nickname. He has yet to do so.

We took a few more pictures after thanking and paying our guide then found our driver to go back to Fes. We had hoped that he would catch up on sleep while we were walking around the site, but alas, the lack of food or water for Ramadan seemed too much for him. I kept a close eye and coughed a few times to wake him back up again. Which, I acknowledge, is a very Cousin Charlotte thing to do.

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