Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cockroaches of Fes

In many ways Fes of Morocco is like Oaxaca of Mexico. They have a similar non-mainstream atmosphere - just as Oaxaca isn’t as bustling and sizzling as Mexico City, Fes also isn’t quite as exciting and colorful as Marrakech. They both also have cockroaches the size of tennis balls. OK, not tennis balls, but they are pretty puffy. The only difference is that when Oaxaca ones are arrogant bastards who climb on people when they feel like it, then Fes’s ones are somewhat little fluffy chickens. Of course me and Ylle didn’t know that, so when we first visited Fes, we were confronted already on the first evening with a specially juicy specimen, who was standing in front of our bedroom door, wiggling it’s antennae and looking positively disgusting. Quoting here Gandalf the Grey: “You shall not pass!” seems appropriate :). I’m not afraid of mice and rats, but I can scream the most girlish way when confronted by cockroach of any size. And mostly because they are just so r-e-v-o-l-t-i-n-g. So of course me and Ylle were being proper girls and squeaked for help. Nabil (the riad's manager) came, lifted it up with his two fingers and carried it outside. We were blood-thirsty and demanded for him to kill it ("Squash it! Squash it!"), but Nabil looked at us and said with uncharacteristic wisdom: "Why kill it? It also wants to live". As soon as he put it down on the street, the thing turned around and ran back into the house. In any case, we slept the next 4 days with the lights on and kept tramping our feet each time we entered the bathroom. Tramping of the feet scares off Estonian cockroaches, but it turned out to be a wasted effort on Moroccan ones - they are genetically cowards already. They were supposed to live mostly down in the sewers and you don't see them in the house that much. They do seem to like bathrooms though. I remember one particularly disgusting incident when i was under the shower and reached out for a shampoo and right before my fingers touched the bottle i realized that on the account of lacking my -6 dioptre glasses this weird black splotch on the bottle could only be .. a cockroach! RUN!

(c) Kaidi Peiker

One morning I came downstairs and the whole floor was full of cockroaches sunbathing on their backs, with their little legs stretched up in the air. Turned out they were dead of course, Nabil had exterminated them because some two flaky Estonian chicks were having a nervous breakdown upstairs and were cranking up the electric bill. I put a coin next to one of the bugs to make a comparative photo and almost dropped the camera, when the thing suddenly jerked, twitching it’s leg in the last dying breath. Creeeepy.

Exterminating cockroaches is told to be quite useless in Fes - even if you get rid of yours, half your neighbour’s colony will move in pretty soon. My first encounter with Moroccan brand of cockroaches was in June and i thought they were absolutely humongous. The next time i saw them was in October – believe me, they had grown considerably. I don't even want to know how will they look in December.

Someone once told me that there are no cockroaches in Marrakech. I don't really know if it's true, but if that's really the case, then that Dream-riad of mine that i'm going to buy one day in Morocco is going to be in Marrakech after all.


  1. So far haven't seen any in our new Fez apartment, but no doubt we can look forward to them...nice the description fuzzy sounds less than terrifying...



  2. I imagine they are more common in areas with old style plumbing like medina is. I have no idea if the Ville Nouvelle in Fes also battles with cockroaches. In any case, cross your fingers and pray to what ever God you pray to. They are really big and gross.

  3. that's huge and gross. I don't like them flying near me :(

  4. Oh believe me, my friend-- they are in the ville nouvelle like crazy. Unfortunately, they are also in Marrakesh, but only approach approximately half the size of the ones I have had the pleasure of encountering in Fez! Happy travelss. :)


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