Raining still, we needed to press on and make something of Fes. We popped out of our riad, found the main street, and headed right (which turned out to be the correct direction). It took us several hours to wind our way along this one street, navigating through its many stores and crowds. Jeff purchased a dagger to kill Ted and I acquired a jewelry box made of camel bone as a gift for my mother (and as a means to promote the execution of camels everywhere).
In the afternoon, we headed to Palais Jamai for a high end, all you can eat lunch. From there, we had a beautiful view of the old city and greatly appreciated the luxury of a five star hotel (and its wonderful toilets). Ted stole the internet from the lobby and I stole a 15 minute nap from an old leather chair.
That night we returned to Café Clock to enjoy a female percussion group. There, we met another group of English speakers from Britain and the US. They too enjoyed the oasis of the café and looked forward to a little entertainment in a relaxed environment. As we sat waiting for the performance to begin, one of the girls recommended we try the camel burgers. Given my new found hate for camels I, of course, was eager to eat one. She then directed us to an article in Conde Nast specifically about the camel burgers in this very restaurant. As I finished the half page article, another English speaking woman in her late thirties joined our table by guidance from the owner, Mike. Tara, a Brit, was now living in Barcelona and travelled to Morocco frequently. After some brief introductions, we learned that she was, in fact, the author of the article in Conde Nast I’d just read! Some months ago, she had stumbled upon Mike and Café Clock and immediately fell for it (and him). We’re expecting to see a cookbook from Tara in the near future.
Eventually, a group of four older women sat at the table across from us. They pulled off their coats to reveal matching peach tunics. They then dug out various indigenous percussion instruments from bags they’d carried in with them. Mike brought them some coffee and soft drinks and they settled into their seats for a moment. Then, suddenly one struck her drum and the performance abruptly began. It took me a moment to understand the rhythm but eventually it sunk in. Clearly, this was a style not typical to the western eighths. I filmed three of their songs.
Some of their songs prompted women from the crowd to belly dancer around them. It’s a fascinating style of dance…focused on separate movements from multiple areas of the body – legs, hips, ribs, shoulders, arms and head. It is undeniably erotic – which is strange for this culture of fully covered, extremely reserved people. Apparently, even Muslims cannot deny the beauty and grace a woman’s dancing body.
After the show, we settled back into our place in the corner with the other English speakers. Mike served us lemon aide (aka vodka-tonics… because he isn’t allowed to serve booze) on an antique table/trunk that pinned us against the cafe wall. As the conversation stirred, Ted looked to reposition and speak with someone outside of our immediate circle. Upon departure, he attempted to avoid the toes of the people packed into the corner by stepping his left foot on the outer edge of our table/trunk and using it to bare his weight. The table/trunk could not manage the force and gave way underneath him. The record stopped. Ted stood surprised with his foot, now through the wooden top, joined by all of the broken glasses and associated fluid. All eyes were on us.
We all hustled to clean up the mess and temporarily repair our now broken table. Tara, unimpressed by Ted’s grace asked us if, “it was typical to stand on restaurant furniture in America?” We all shook our heads in the affirmative and pushed the conversation forward. This was Tara’s British way of reprimanding Ted. I love the British.
After a few bottles of tea (aka red wine served in a tea kettle), we decided to head home to pack and prepare for our long journey on the following day.