The call to prayer chases itself from one minaret to the next – echoing its multiple births across the Place Boujeloud outside the medina gate. Sparsely populated during the day – mostly students from the adjoining college sharing the shade of a row of mulberry trees dropping ripe fruit – the paved expanse is crowded at dusk. Children play with their own empty strollers, makeshift carnival type games emerge –needing luck or skill I can’t be sure. There is the requisite tea table, and one for nuts, and juices, and meat sandwiches. the assembly of people enjoy the cool evening air. The backdrop of the ancient wall encircling the old city, sharing space with towering metal cranes- like the keyhole doors, juxtaposed against satellite dishes-old and new…then and now.

I adore the seeming ease that the ancient and modern share space; different ways of life blending into a colorful tapestry. A woman in a long jalaba, head and neck covered by a scarf, walks arm-in-arm with her friend, hair blowing in the wind, arms exposed. And I am only a visitor. Maybe this is the simplified and romanticized view…anything possible because for me there is beauty in the possibility.

Still, today impossible washes over me like refreshing evening air. I visited the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the few holy places that allow non-muslims. Gazing around at the details, delicate wood carvings creating immense mosaic-ed doors, intricate engravings in white stone reaching well beyond sight, bright tiles, colorful glass – all melding into a sanctuary of beauty.

I can understand how this place would call people to contemplate God – call them to aspire to more, to better.

Beyond the mammoth bronze doors that separate the medersa from the rest of the medina, I lost myself to the winding paths and endless stalls. Voices called out greetings, “Senegal” “obama” “texas”, and urged me to look inside “for luck” or “for beautiful things”.

Of course my search always involves food and so I found myself – having walked from one of the 14 gates to another across the medina– at a food stall. Poulet something or other – chicken stuffed inside fresh baked bread with Chinese vermicelli, pimento powder, cumin, and some tomato based sauce. Exquisite because I was starving or because it was exquisite, no matter. It was lunch for 10 MAD – a little more than a dollar. Later, at the palais mnebhi, I had mint tea with ambiance – the grandeur of the former palace. Elegant without opulence; high ceilings and mosaic-ed tiles, and from the roof a view of fes spread out before me, fawn colored buildings against a clean blue so sky.

Days wader by me now, each unfolding without solid plan or tangible expectation. Only the assumption that something beautiful awaits me, something full of possibility – like the waxing moon that hangs brightly just over the ancient wall and the crowd milling about the Place Boujeloud.

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1 Comment on medina musings

  1. Teresa says:

    A-mazing! Let time stand STOL and soak in it!

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