Chefchaouen | Morocco
It is a little over four hours we have been bumping by line bus through the desolate landscape of the Rif Mountains. The image of an utterly remote place is completed by a mysterious older man sitting in the middle of nowhere on a white plastic chair, grazing a donkey. Where he came from is a mystery, but one gets used to such curiosities in Morocco quite quickly. Finally, we are welcomed by the destination of our journey – the blue pearl – the city of Chefchaouen.
How about some music to enhance your experience?
Entrance prohibited for christians!
Blue-plastered walls are said to evoke heaven and paradise and lead to faith, but evil tongues claim that the blue color repels mosquitoes. This complex labyrinth of picturesque streets was founded in the fifteenth century by Jews and Muslims fleeing the Spanish reconquest. Few would say today that the city was once a dreaded fortress to which Christians were forbidden to enter under threat of death. Today, however, no one will take your head off here. On the contrary, the locals will be happy to invite you to a delicious tea, which is part of the lifestyle throughout Morocco.
What is it going to be? Hashish or carpet?
One can suddenly appear on the roof of a stranger’s house here, in a hidden darkened carpet store that looks like the drug market, or in a real drug market that looks like a carpet store. A third of the world’s hashish production is produced around Chefchaouen. Although the industry has been illegal in the country since 2004, it still forms an integral part of the local economy. You will come across street sellers of this drug about as often as artisans luring gullible tourists to their workshops. They will show them how their small business works. Of course, free of charge. The fact that the tourist soon leaves burdened with a carpet, mat and jelaba (traditional local clothing) is only a minor detail.
Wandering around aimlessly
Moroccans are in no hurry, and in Chefchaouen, this is twice as true. Let yourself be lulled by this style and visit one of the many cafes interwoven in the medina. You should definitely taste the traditional stewed tagine dish served in a typical ceramic vessel. The city will captivate you with its atmosphere, and wandering aimlessly through its nooks and crannies is an extraordinary adventure.
Chefchaouen in all its beauty
In the late afternoon, set your course above the city to the Spanish Mosque for a fabulous sunset. This very short hike is not demanding at all, and from the city laundry (Lavadero de la Ciudad) at the edge of the medina, it takes roughly a quarter of an hour. Whether you are a fan of romance, beautiful nature, unknown culture, adventure, or some other stuff there is something for everyone in Chefcahouen.
published in issue 9. of