Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A very smelly place

The souk in Fes is one of the oldest in the world. It functions as it always has since its inception and is one of the most fascinating places in the world. It is old and decrepit and confusing, more so than in Marrakech. At one point Sophie and I got separated and I had a bad case of claustrophobia, I had to run out of the place. Most of the locals can't afford the upkeep of their places and thanks to UNESCO and some foreigners who has injected funds into rehabilitating the place and placed a halt to it's decline, the place is experiencing a resurgence. The most smelly place, the tanneries is right smack in the middle of the souk and the foul smell warns visitors that they are fast approaching the tanneries. But it is also a fascinating place. I've never been near a tannery before and to see one up close was very exciting. We were invited up some stairs and we wondered why but when we were up the rooftop, we realised, that it is the most vantage point to view the workings of a tannery. There were vats of leather steeping in what we were told donkey urine and pigeon poop to soften the hide. It stank so bad. There were workmen jumping in and out of those stinky vats, scrubbing the hide as they go. God, this must be the world's most awful job!

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