The ancient medina of Fès is said to be the largest urbanized area in the world that prohibits motor vehicles. (There were a few motorbikes around, so it didn’t seem completely non-motorized.) In some parts of the world that might be a significant hardship, but in Morocco donkeys are often the vehicle of choice, and that is true in Fès as well. Thus, these non-motorized “vehicles” are allowed in the medina.
Indeed, donkeys appear to be the UPS trucks of Fès.
Donkeys are generally silent and can suddenly appear in the most unexpected of places. This means that visitors should learn a key word if they hope to safely walk the streets of the medina: “Balak!”
The donkey handlers shout “Balak! Balak!” — “Look out! Look out!” — as they maneuver their beasts through the narrow twisting streets. On hearing that call, a wise visitor will look quickly to ensure they are well out of the path of oncoming donkey traffic.
Don’t think you haven’t been adequately warned!
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