Sunday, July 05, 2009


I'd hid in the guesthouse for part of yesterday, self-imprisoned, asleep or working with the a/c on.

I'd been overwhelmed by my new "friends," the kids who wanted to sell me something. Ali had suggested that I never walk with them, because they would believe they were making progress. Instead, he thought I should stand still and firmly say "La, shukran" until they got the point. (No, thank you.)

It worked but it made going anywhere a bit difficult. I had to spend several minutes per kid, standing there convincing them that I had no intention of accompanying them to any shop.

But the next morning, I sheepishly laughed at my overreaction. I know a thing or two about handling touts. Surely a few kids trying to make a buck or two shouldn't intimidate me. Ha.

"What are you going to do today?" I was sitting with Josephine again in the morning.

"I thought I'd go to Volulibis. Just on public transport, I mean. The going rate for a private driver is 800 dirhams."

"Normally, more people are staying here and you can split the cost," she explained. But I was fine with having an entire restored Fez house to myself. Really. Not a problem.

You might remember that I'd passed Volulibis, or Walili as it's known locally, while taking shared taxis to Fez from Chefchaouen. I hadn't been able to see much of these Roman ruins from the road, so was interested in getting back and checking it out.

I walked up to the main bab (gate) and hailed a taxi. 10 dirhams from the Medina to the gare (train station). 18 more dirhams for my train ticket to Meknes.

There were loads of empty seats so I was surprised when a young man sat down directly in front of me, in the seat facing mine. I was reading but when I looked up, I noticed that he had no luggage and no reading material. He was starting right at me.

Here we go.

I ignored him until finally he said "Where are you from?"

"New York, but I live in Kuwait." I learned back in Nairobi, when I lived in Uganda, that telling touts that you live somewhere unexpected throws off their game.

"You going to Marrakesh?"

I'd heard about hotel touts boarding the trains.

"No," I allowed myself a smug smile. "Meknes." I was only going to be on the train for 40 minutes.

He got up and left. Not so much as a good-bye.

At Meknes' El-Amir station, I caught a metered taxi (another 5 dirhams) to the grand taxis bound for Moulay Idriss. It's an easy walk, and I walked the reverse later, but from the map I wasn't sure how far away the grand taxis were.

"Moulay Idriss." I arrived at the grand taxi stand and informed the attendant of my destination. "Deux places." I wanted the front seat this time. 20 dirhams.

He nodded and put me in the front seat of an old Mercedes. Four men squeezed into the back seat and we were off. We stopped along the way and let one man out but the other three went to Moulay Idriss with me.

Moulay Idriss was another whitewashed mountain town. I negotiated with three drivers once I got there, but I still ended up paying 100 dirhams, more than twice the book's listed rate for a ride and back (with an hour waiting) to Wallili.

Here are some photos of Wallili/Volulibis.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Nice arches!
What kind of bird nests on the columns?