Visiting with Mohammed and Coca – Fes, Morocco. 2013

A customer with the highest standards.  Fes, Morocco.
A customer with the highest standards. Fes, Morocco.

V and I have travelled to Fes quite a few times since our arrival in Morocco.  We’ve walked the narrow streets, navigated dark alleys and crowded into the Fassi souks with the best of them.  We now have favorite restaurants and shops and know where the better deals are.  According to one of my co-workers, I’ve been to Fes more times than most Moroccans!

Some of the tools of the trade.
Some of the tools of the trade.

During our first visit to Fes I met Mohammed – a merchant whose family weaves cactus silk textiles and has occupied the same location in the medina for over 100 years – standing outside of his shop.  Mohammed’s sister Coca, a student hoping to be a tour guide (I am sure that she would be a fantastic one should she pursue it) offered help finding the large tannery.  I was far too proud to accept her assistance and now regret missing out on her insider information on the short walk from their shop to the tannery door.

Fes_Mohammed_Fam (7)
Mohammed’s nephew, a.k.a. Loco Jose. Don’t ask me where that name comes from.

After checking out the tannery I walked by Mohammed and Coca’s shop where I ran into Coca once again.  She asked whether I had made it to the tannery and whether I had a good time or not.  Coca and Mohammed invited me inside their shop and told me their family’s history and how the medina has changed over the years.  Mint tea magically appeared and we shared stories that Coca translated from English to Darija and back.  Young relatives brought additional tea and sat down to listen to our conversation, laughing at Mohammed’s jokes and my caveman Darija.  Mohammed and Coca asked for me to return for breakfast and said that they wanted to meet V.

Fes_Mohammed_Fam (2)
More tools of the trade. Maybe they can make a nice suit in these colors? Two or three piece?
  • Note – when offered the customary mint tea, stop counting calories and drink it.  This is part of Moroccan culture and your interaction with your host is far more important than your waistline.  Some Moroccans take one’s refusal of the tea as an insult. Don’t be silly – just drink it!
Fes_Mohammed_Fam (6)
Mohammed’s nephew.

I returned the next morning with V and met the family before being ushered upstairs for a fantastic traditional Berber breakfast including bisara, a broad-bean soup believed to cure major ills and revive dying horses.  We shared more stories and even more mint tea before purchasing a few beautiful gifts for friends and family back home.

One of the family looms. Mohammed and Coca run this by hand and are keen to show how it works.

We have visited numerous times since and are fond of introducing our guests to Mohammed and Coca and their family.  Mohammed and Coca’s hospitality and warmth are a real treat to experience (and their blankets, scarves and pillow cases are fantastic gifts).

Mohammed and Coca, fantastic hosts and artisans.
Mohammed and Coca, fantastic hosts and artisans.

We recently brought good friends of ours to the grand tannery and – of course – to Mohammed and Coca’s shop.  A visit to the shop isn’t complete without a whole lot of tea and someone being dressed up for a Berber marriage.  Luckily, this time I was just a guest at the wedding.

A and S all dressed up for a Berber wedding.  Awwww!  V and I have been there before and are pleased when our guests play dress up (instead of us).
A and S all dressed up for a Berber wedding. Awwww! V and I have been there before and are pleased when our guests play dress up (instead of us).
  • Note – Google maps is particularly unhelpful when trying to locate Mohammed’s shop.  Instead, locate the hotel Palais Amani and step about fifteen feet past the hotel front door (towards the medina / grand tannery).  Mohammed’s shop is just a few seconds walk past the Palais Amani front door.

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One Comment

  1. Bill D

    Went there ( with Joel ) – Mohammed & Coca great hosts- helpful, fun, informative, interesting and interested. Spent a wonderful few hours , saw more in that time , was introduced to more people in that time , and came to understand more about Fez than I would have in 5 trips or perhaps ever. Great. And I can’t wait to go there again, and to see them as well.

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