Fez, Saturday, December 22

The Fez airport is airy and pleasing to the eye with yellow dancing designs on its pillars. We were met by a lean, bespectacled young man, who took us to the car in which he would deliver us to the Riad Alkantara. It was so wonderful to be met rather than finding a taxi and arguing about the price, which we, being newly arrived, would not know. It is always acrimonious and one always feels one has been cheated by one’s ignorance.

Kathy engaged him in conversation while I tried to decifer what I saw out the window. He is a husband and father with an incomplete bacalaureat. At the moment his wife is finishing her degree. Outside the car the darkness was illuminated by continuous strands of multicolored signs and neon. Occasionally we would pass, it was Saturday, a large room, its doors open to the street strung with lights outside and softly glowing with in where many people walked and talked, brilliant in sweeping, long clothes, a wedding.

We stopped at a softly lit open place with a jumble of buildings to one side. Here a man with an irregular collection of teeth greeted us, took our bags and headed down a lane. We hurried after him twist by turn under high lamps and high walls passing a few, but not many people. Our suitcases on their rollers rumbled along behind us and him over the cobbles.

Around one corner a small, marmalade cat with an imperial plume for a tail acquired out parade, preceding us, led us through a great double wooden door, down a twist of passages to where a garden and palms glowed in the light of high, pierced lanterns delivering us to the desk and Rahma‘s, smiling scarf wrapped care. He then left going off into the night and his personal activities.

The hotel, the Riad Alkantara, priced well above our usual level of accommodations, is gorgeous. Whether it was just someone’s home or ranks as high as a palace I am not sure but it is beautiful. After registering we walked through a tile court with stairs down to a garden of palms and orange trees around a big pool, then down to a second level court, also over looking the pool and then into a court with a skylight under which were rugs, sofas, capacious armchairs and a piano. Here the walls are decorated with tiles and the intricate stucco work which is typical of Fez.

In my room the coffered ceiling is painted and inlaid with designs. There are two huge shuttered windows and a French door, so that one side of the room is almost completely glass. At night I close the shutters and the French door is covered by a heavy, cream colored, silk drape. Above the windows is beautiful stucco work deeply incised to give it shadow. At one end of the room is a neat little wc and at the other a bathroom with a tiled shower which must be climbed up and then down into and a handsome brass sink.

I settled in in the digital manner, which means after unpacking and hanging up, there is plugging in to charge. And so to bed, under the coffered ceiling and the chandelier’s ropes of crystals.

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