A Little Night Music

After trudging around and then through the Fez Medina, we were starving.  Not noticing any restaurants or cafes around our riad we asked the manager where we might find a quick bite before the concert we had tickets for that night.  He gave us the card of a nearby restaurant and told us he would call someone to come and get us.  Many restaurants in the Medina are tucked away down alleys that tourists would never stumble upon - they are in restored riads or even sections of private homes.   It is not uncommon to need a guide or someone from the restaurant to come and fetch you.

Once fetched we traced our way through what was once the Jewish Quarter of the medina.  We ate in a large room that, we were told, was "Part of a private residence.  We live here!"  I had perhaps the best pastilla I've eaten to date and I've been salivating for it ever since.  It gave us a nice chance to catch our breath and check out the map in the hopes that our next trip through the medina would be more successful than our last.

We did, in fact, find our way out of the medina without a hitch - other than the fact we busted it uphill for about a mile and a half, just certain it would end once we turned the next corner.  The concert we attended was called "Leila and Majnun". (Jen - I thought of your Leila the whole time.)  You can read more about the ancient Islamic story the lyrics and orchestration were based on here and the performance itself here.  With 40 plus musicians from all over the world, several international soloist singing in Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Hindi, and Mongolian and breathtaking orchestration it knocked our socks off to say the least.  Check out throat singing Mongolian soloist Enkhajargal Dandarvaanchig (for real) here and Gombodorj Byambajargal, another soloist with a style I can't begin to describe, here.

The venue was a real treat too - between two giant gates of the royal palace entrance.  And the whole night flocks of starlings flew over us, coming back to their manmade nests for the night.  Fez's medina walls have small pockets carved into their exterior - from earlier renovation our guide told us the next day.  They have proved the perfect home for hundreds of starlings and other birds and at the night the sky is swarming with them.  Talk about The Birds.  It was a little spooky, but in the most awesome of ways.
And famous of almost famous, after the concert we saw the Queen!  Of Morocco!  Were were walking to leave when we saw a group of secret service looking men scurrying down a centrally located red carpet and everyone was clapping.  Sure enough, there she was in her pink and sequins.  We felt a bit sheepish to be so underdressed in our smelly travel clothes.

And lastly, perhaps in a cosmic way of making up for the pushy shebab who latched onto us earlier in the day, two perfectly amiable young boys led us from the gate back to our riad after our taxi let us out in an unmarked alleyway.            


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