Trying to Avoid a Stoning in Fez

Morocco – June 2009

The medina in Fez is filled with compact, windy streets, indescribable scents, and cries of “Balak! Balak!” when an unyielding donkey is approaching. It reminds me of the Amazon in that it is nearly impossible to be put into words—it really needs to be experienced. From tanneries to rug shops, you can find it here. Delve deep enough and one can probably still find a Minotaur.

It’s probably not surprising then to discover that Fez is a rather traditional town. I’m travelling with a group with only four solo travelers—myself, a Kiwi accompanying a couple, a well-travelled but very peculiar Brit, and a leggy blonde from Nebraska. We started in Spain, worked our way down Portugal, and are now in Morocco. The leggy blonde and I have started wandering about together (and avoiding the peculiar Brit).

The afternoon we arrive in Fez I decide to head out to exchange some money and buy a few provisions before dinner. At dinner the leggy blonde asks if I wouldn’t mind taking her to the same exchange and market that evening. One problem: She decides to wear rather short shorts for the outing. I start to notice the damning looks almost immediately once we are on the main street, especially from the local women.

At the exchange, the man behind the counter won’t look her way, so I complete the transaction on her behalf. More damning stares on our way to the market. Again, the seller won’t even look at her, so I use my limited French to make the purchase. As we head back to the hotel, I note that she might want to cover up a bit while we’re in Morocco as I have the feeling that, if not, she’s going to be stoned and I’m going to be arrested for being in the company of a salacious woman.

The next morning, she comes down with legs covered and lets me know that her fiancé appreciated my accompanying her to the exchange and market, and for the recommendation to cover up. He was worried she wouldn’t and might find herself in some trouble. He’d also be appreciative when, a few days later, I am offered twenty camels for her but respectfully decline.

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