This blog is a continuation of last week’s blog. Haven’t read the first bit? Catch it here!
The next morning, we enjoyed the first of many delicious Moroccan breakfasts in the courtyard as we planned the day’s journey. It turned out we had parked, and stayed close to the Tanning district which crisscrosses the Drain referred to as the Oued Bou Khrareb. Unfortunately, a large, luxury apartment is being built across the river which will greatly affect the tannery environment and the labyrinth of alleyways that you could still wander at leisure.
With our map in hand, we headed off to explore the tanning district and were immediately accosted by locals attempted to guide us or bring us in to ‘the biggest’ or ‘the best’ viewing location. Already jaded, we rebuffed their offers and were met with derision and rudeness which we took with a grain of salt and continued on to the location we had originally selected.
As it turns out, it probably does not matter where you go, there are clearly dozens of different tanning companies operating out of a very similar location. Our refusal of guides did, however, lead us down a path that brought us right into the tanning area where we were able to see the hundreds of stone basins close up, and at ground level. Before long we were shooed out of the ‘worker’s only’ area as an organised tour gain their official entry.
Next we were beckoned in to an unassuming door that led up a flight of winding stairs to an outlook that provided a spectacular view of the Chouara Tannery – Fes’ largest. The room, and balcony were festooned with leather products of all sizes and colours, form jackets, to shoes, to bags. We were ushered on through room after room, on a number of different levels for a couple of different viewpoints, all the while receiving assurances that there was no fee to look (comments we treated with well-justified suspicion). Eventually we were allowed to stop and browse the huge number of leather products on display.
Eventually we selected a couple of jackets, bags and assorted items which ended up being quite expensive by my reckoning. That said, my jacket ended up costing about $200 AUD for a product that had the fit and softness of something far more expensive at home.
After an hour or two of exploration, we made our way back to our riad to drop our new leather goods off before delving deeper into the medina.
(To Be Continued next week!)