As I was saying, Laila, our train compartment-mate on our long trip to Fes from Marrakech, completely changed our entire trip. After only about 1-2 hours of sitting together on the train, she had already invited the three of us to stay at her mother’s (empty) apartment. After a few more hours of conversation in French and Arabic (Verena took it upon herself to learn as much Arabic as possible from our fellow travellers), we cancelled our Riad reservation. That was an incredible kindness, but didn’t end there. She made sure we didn’t get ripped off (i.e. pay tourist prices) for cabs, enlisted her sons to hang out with us and guide us around the medina, hired out some neighbors to drive us to the places we wanted to see for a tiny fraction of what regular tour guides charge, invited us to her home and cooked a delicious meal, and took us to the airport on our last day. What she got in return was a whole lot of gratitude and friendship from us.
Laila wasn’t the only kind Moroccan we met. There were a few others from the train, and one man from my flight who just gave me their phone numbers and told me to call if I needed anything, or if I got into trouble. I am normally very suspicious of random men who give me their phone numbers, but these guys all seemed to be genuinely kind with no ulterior motives (and luckily I never got into any trouble where the only number I could call was one of theirs).
Our adventures in (and nearby) Fes included visiting the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis:
The beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen in the northern Rif Mountains:
And wandering the medina in Fes itself:
Amazing. We are some lucky ducks!