Felix Fabri has finally arrived in Joppa after a long sea voyage. It’s the fourth of July and the sun has just risen. Fabri describes the fish swimming “on top of the sea” and mentions that one fish looks like it has the face and ears of a dog (36). Fabri spends a lot of time in this passage focusing on describing his physical surroundings. He spends almost a whole page describing the way the ocean glistened, how the towers looked against the sky, the color of the land, the people, etc. His attention to detail is staggering, almost overwhelming at some points. Fabri also spends some time describing the people he sees. He calls the locals Saracens and seems to observe them almost as you would an animal. His tone is similar to that he used when describing the local Italians before.
Fabri describes to us the preparations that are being made for his journey to the Holy Land. He’s waiting on the boat in which he arrived until he can meet with the Moorish lords of Joppa. He’s waiting with several of his traveling companions, as they cannot leave the boat until they are officially greeted and welcomed by the Moorish lords. However, the Moorish lords have yet to arrive and have sent their servants ahead of them to prepare the area. Fabri is quite intrigued by these servants (the same men he calls Saracen). However, he doesn’t portray them in a very flattering light. Instead, he uses descriptions and anecdotes that portray them as different and suspect.
When the Saracen servants first arrived, Fabri notes that they “skirmished with one another in sport, mounted on their mules, as if they were fighting” and ran frantically “to and fro” (36). His descriptions of the Saracens seem detached and almost condescending. He writes as if he is seeing some strange creature instead of a group of human beings. For example, at the end of the passage, Fabri begins telling an anecdote. He notices that the Saracens are going in and out of some caves above the seashore. Fabri writes that these are the caves into which he and his companions “will be driven” after the Saracens officially welcome them (36). He is puzzled by the behavior of the Saracens and says that he and his companions watched them go in and out “all day long” but they could not guess what was going on (36). That is, until “to the offense of our noses, we discovered; for they had defiled those places with ordure” (36). Now, Fabri is staying on a ship that is hundreds of feet from the shoreline. He observes the Saracens from afar, unable to approach them or even yell to them from his position on the ship. The likelihood of him being able to smell some offensive odor al the way from the shore is very low. Fabri, throughout his travel narrative, has consistently painted people he’s found foreign or different from himself in unflattering lights. This passage seems to be an extension of that.