Morocco: The Tanneries

In Fes, one of the main attractions are the leather tanneries. Here, in the oldest leather tannery in the world, they produce leather using the same methods that were used nine centuries ago. After climbing the stairs, we emerged on a balcony overlooking sprawling rooftops perforated with giant vats of foul-smelling mixtures and vegetable dyes. The tour guides often give their groups sprigs of mint to hold in front of their noses to combat the smell (caused in part by large vats of acidic pigeon excrement and the raw hides themselves). Men worked in and in between the vats, scraping, cleaning, dying, and drying the mountains of animal hides.