Coming to Fez, everyone tells you that it will smell, but you don’t realize how much until you get here. While walking up the tannery stairs, you feel your posture change, you try to block out the intense smell coming from the outside. You bring the top of your shirt in front of your nose and mouth, your facial expression changing to one of disgust. You bring in your head and shoulder closer to your core as if not seeing the view might result in not smelling it.
You walk out of the corridor into a bright area full of leather articles, ranging from bags to coats to shoes. It takes a couple seconds for your eyes to adjust to the lighting, you move closer to the railing of the balcony with squinting eyes. As you stand on the terrace looking down at the hard-working men, everything else starts to fade away. You wonder how long it takes before they become immune to the potent smell of leather. A salesman starts to approach the group and describe the dyeing process. You faintly hear his explanation, something about pigeon feces, but you stay focused on the mechanical movements of the men below. The sun is bright, the rays hitting the workers. The view seems to be like something out of a history book. No matter the weather, these men are out here. Some waist deep in the color mixtures, stomping on the material, others jumping from area to area trying not to fall in the dye while carrying layers of leather.
Slowly, you realize the smell has started to feel less aggressive. You look around for something else to catch your eye. The blue indigo — you recall the salesman talking about the spices and plants they use to create pure colors. It seems that in today’s world where everything is artificial, a fully natural product is a rare discovery.
As you walk back down the stairs you are quickly snapped out of your day dream. You feel tourists brushing past you, some lifting a small piece of mint to their nose, not yet used to the stinging smell of the tanneries. Once outside you realize how your perspective on this city has changed, you can feel a newfound sense of respect towards it.