September 15-19, 2014
Written by Roxanne
It was a 7 hour bus trip from Casablanca to Chefchaouen, but so worth the trip. Chefchaouen, was one of our bucket list items that we did not want to miss. The bus ride was long, the kids played on their tablets and I read a book taking frequent breaks to look up and admire the changing landscape. I have to admit I was surprised to see such lush and fertile fields. There were wheat fields on rolling hills that reminded us of Southern Saskatchewan. Cows grazing in the fields. Olive trees planted in long rows that seemed to go on forever. Cactus growing alongside the road that were heavy with prickly pear fruit. A sky so clear and blue. Donkeys carrying sacks and vegetables. People walking along the side of the road without a care in the world. It was a nice change from the dry red and brown fields we had been seeing over the past few weeks.
Our first glimpse of Chefchaouen was breathtaking. The way the bus wound it’s way towards the city out of the mountains, we got to see numerous panoramic views and saw it at dawn, lit up in the night. The blue-washed village is perched amongst the mountains. We did not get a good photo as we drove in, as it was too dark and too bumpy. The tour books say Checchaouen, it is one the the prettiest towns in Morocco; I would have to agree.
We only had a few days in Chefchaouen and wanted to enjoy every minute. We arrived at about 7pm and tried to hail a taxi; but the problem was the taxis only take three people. They would see us standing there and just drive away. Finally a young man flagged down a taxi for us and explained that if we would be willing to break up our party, the driver could make twice the money for a double trip. He agreed, so Aurora and I jumped into the taxi and headed off to the location the riad host was meeting us. The taxi turned around and then picked up Len and Noah. Our host showed up a few minutes later, ran off to hire a man to transport our luggage and we were off weaving our way through the medina to our riad. We checked into our riad, which I have to admit was the most terrible riad/accommodation we had in Morocco (Really, it was cramped even for us, it smelled of sewer gas, had not ventilation and there were so many flies in the bathroom that we couldn’t shower …until they came and sprayed). We decided to just eat peanut butter sandwiches for supper. We were all too tired to go out in search of supper.
The next day the kids and I went exploring. They say the medina is so small that it impossible to get lost. Well, we did the impossible. We got lost. You see, everything is so blue that it all looks the same. Nothing really stands out. We had to ask 4 people for directions before we found our way back to the riad. But during that time we had a great time walking through the medina, stopping to look at the shops without shopkeepers pushing their products on us. We walked and walked, going up and down steps, passing homes, bakeries, tailors, woodworkers and schools. At one point we stopped alongside the street to eat our ice cream and a young boy and girl on their way to school passed us, lifting their head to shyly smile at us. We smiled back and kept talking. A few seconds later the young boy ran back and handed Aurora a friendship bracelet and in a blink ran off again before she could thank him. Aurora was so touched by this sweet gesture and proudly has the bracelet attached to her backpack to remember him. In a matter of seconds we fell in love with this young boy and girl.
We spent our time in Chefchaouen wandering through the medina, eating in outdoor cafes and just sitting and watching the people pass by. The medina was the nicest medina we had seen, it was clean, scenic, busy but not crowded and just touristy enough to enjoy.
On one of the days we walked up to a hilltop Spanish mosque passing by the waterfall, Ras el-Maa. The water gushes out from the mountain, down to where local women come to do their washing. There are dozens of women there, washing blankets and carpets on the rocks. We stopped and watched for a few minutes before we continued up the hill. Once at the top we were given the most amazing view of the village spread out below. We sat there enjoying the view and the goats trying to steal tourists lunches. We thought the goats were funny, but the other tourists didn’t.
Our four days exploring the blue village of Morocco truly lived up to our expectations. What we didn’t expect was the number of times Len was approached and asked if he wanted to buy marijuana. Funny thing was that they never approached me or asked Len when the kids and I were near. Our guide book advised us that being approached to buy was not unusual, because there is thriving marijuana production in the Chefchaouen are. That aside, we would gladly return to this beautiful little blue village.