Michelle met me just before 8:30. We headed straight to a cafe for breakfast and an espresso then he said he wanted to look for wood – old growth cedar wood in a town about 25 km from Fes.
It was a glorious morning, with the Atlas Mountains to our south and the Rifs to the north. We headed south between the two ranges in the MB with the stereo blasting Lebanese music. The windows were down and the sun was shining brightly as we sped past large groves of olive trees and an occasional flock of sheep to the predominately Jewish town of Sefrou.
I reflected on the last 24 hours of my walkabout and the karma and kismet of travel. How the hell did I end up here, now, in this really comfortable leather seat in a MB with this man?
We entered the town of Safrou and as we drove past the old jewish cemetary Michelle asked if I wanted to stop. I considered it a rhetorical question, as I always want to stop, see and learn. The caretaker greeted us with “Shalom”. He gave me a tour, speaking in French, past the old concrete graves and headstones, some dating back 400 years.
The children are over here, the men are here and the women are over there. Took pics then we headed to the walled medina of Sefrou, where Michelle educated me on the construction of the ancient mud wall enclosure, similar to the medina walls in Casa, Marrakeck, Essaouira and Fes. Part of his work with UNESCO has been on medina wall and building preservation.
He walked confidently through the medina and I followed him like a puppy. Past blacksmiths at a forge and a craftsman man that was hand carving wooden bowls.
We ended up at a carpentry shop where he found the old cedar he was looking for. He told the owner he wanted all he had and that his construction manager named Aziz would come to negotiate the price and transport the purchase. Then we were off to his “Palace” inside the walls of the Fes medina.
Originally built in the 14th century, the home was owned by a wealthy Jewish aristocrat. When the parents died, the children could not agree on what to do with it. It sat abandoned for 25 years,with pigeons using the place as a roost. Michelle bought it 3 years ago and has been restoring it since then.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I will stop writing.
4X4 glazed ceramic tiles are hand chipped into little pieces – some as small as a pea – and used in the tile work.
The columns and window frames are hand carved plaster.
We then left to go buy tile at a factory, where i had a tour of the manufacturing process of the tiles and the how the mosaic patterns are designed and made. While I was taking the tour, Michelle purchased 60,000 4X4 pieces, which will be delivered in 6 months.
Then we had lunch.