Meknes vs. Fes
September 19, 2007
North Africa Page: http://canciondelvagabundo.googlepages.com/northafrica
I moved on from Fes a happy man. I just simply could not etch out a living in that city. The food was too expensive and dolled out with a bad attitude, the internet was also overpriced, and I could not find suitable accommodation. On one hand Fes is a tourist city- and has all of the hassles of a tourist city- and on the other it is a ragged, polluted, urban center- and has all of the hassles of a ragged, polluted, urban center. The combination of such made the city no place to stay for too long. At root, Fes just seemed to be a little too miserable for me, and the people aloof and dishonest (the classic symptoms of a tourist city). Except for a university professor who ran a little shop with his family, my experiences with the people of Fes was a little gruff. It was just time to leave.
I also had difficulty finding appropriate language (French, Arabic) tutelage; which is the main reason why I wish to stay in a city for a little while. I was all ready to go with a course in Modern Standard Arabic with DMG but they could not procure another student for me to have a class with, and they charge way too much for private instruction. So, not wanting to buy a carpet, I figured that there was not much of a reason to remain in Fes. So I hopped on a train and rode an hour west to Meknes, which was another old-time imperial capital of the of the old-time Kingdom of Fez, which I assumed would be just as full of old-time romance and charm.
Though still a little miserable, Meknes is proving to be much more accommodating. There is a deserted Youth Hostel that doesn’t have as many silly rules and the Hotel Maroc, that I am bedding down in right now, were open to working out a deal which allows me to remain here for ten days at a much reduced price. There is also a really suitable internet café right next to the hotel where I can buy ten hours of internet usage for 40 Dirham (5 dollars). There are also suitable places for me to purchase food provisions and not be overcharged, and a few decent, cheap restaurants that also do not try to cheat me. Meknes, being not as much of a tourist center as Fes, has a much more open, hospitable feel, while at the same time offering a similar exotic, medieval atmosphere.
I can talk to people here in Meknes without being scorned and hustled. I am greeted with a smile when I initiate conversation and I find that the people of this city are much more open to talking with me. I do not have the feeling that I am regarded as a tourist thing here, as I did in Fes. It is a good travel habit to avoid the places you are told to go to.