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A Moulay Yacoub Kind of Day

Fes is big.

Too big.

I need a break from big.

Actually, I needed a break from big, and I got it (come to think of it though, I could use another).

Weeks ago, several of my friends came together, and we traveled to a nearby town called Moulay Yacoub. Built on a hillside, Yacky looks out over rolling hills blanketed with dill, cereal grains, and shepherds with their flocks. Underneath the countless stairs and hills, trapped in the earth is a simmering cauldron. These hot springs have been diverted into the Hammams of Yacky and provide a sizable stream of tourism.

Members of my group walked through the Hammams, but we weren't interested in what was below as much as what was above. After a quick walk through the town and the procurement of picnic items, the group set off over the hills. It was a muddy adventure, and the wind was constantly thwarting our attempts at finding quietude, but the view was absolutely gorgeous, and we couldn't help but enjoy ourselves immensely.

Highlights included:

Getting ripped off by the grand taxi driver at the train station in Fes: he told us the price to Moulay Yacoub was set by the government at 200 DH for a car. On the way back, we paid only 54 DH. Ouch. By the way, grand taxis are regular-sized cars that are driven long distances. Two passengers share a single seat in the front, and four share the back seat. Personal space? Forget about it.

The view.

Many boys with their donkeys offering to transport us through the hills (for a price, of course).

The majesty of the natural world.

Walking through the fields. Hopefully, I didn't destroy any peasants' livelihoods.

Walking amongst the flocks.

Being not in Fes.

The view (are you seeing these pictures?)

What I found most intriguing is what lay beyond the hills. We walked most of the day, and once we were far into the hills, we could see scattered throughout the horizon little villages with their own flocks and makeshift shelters and their own backyard of yawning hillscape. What is life like for these people? Do they see the same beauty in these hills, or do they see only the necessity of survival?

We escape Fes in order to relax in these undulating fields. Do these shepherds want this life, or do they dream of escaping these hills surrounding Moulay Yacoub in order to make a living in Fes, to lead a life with a cell phone, a computer, a big television? What are there schools like? Do they have teachers? Medical care? I wish I could have asked them these questions, and my hope is that in my permanent site, I will have just such an opportunity.
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