The Blue Streets of Chefchaouen

Trip Start May 30, 2012
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Trip End Nov 07, 2012


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Flag of Morocco  , Tanger-Tétouan,
Monday, October 15, 2012

It amazes me how certain places in the same country can be so different. This is the case with Tangier and Chefchaouen in Morocco. As Ryan had said, our experience in Tangier was not the greatest. It left us unsure if we even wanted to spend as much time in Morocco as we had planned. But I had read so many nice things about the small mountain town of Chefchaouen that we had to give it a chance. As soon as we arrived in Chefchaouen and got off the coach, we were accosted by people who wanted to guide us to our hostel, or help us get a taxi, or sell us hash. Chefchaouen is well known for the drug hash and pretty much anyone who approaches you will ask if you want to smoke it or buy it. We got a taxi on our own and asked him to take us to the main medina gate where we would then have to walk a short distance to our hostel. With memories of Tangier still fresh in our heads, we proceeded with caution and our guard way up. However, once we got away from the bus station and into the medina, we noticed that, besides a couple of hash dealers, we were pretty much left alone. We found our hostel easily and had the pleasure to be welcomed by a very nice English family. A mother and her two sons decided to move away from England and open up a riad inspired hostel in this small Moroccan town. You have to see what they have done to the building. It is a complete work of art. Chefchaouen has a theme throughout it's streets and buildings being painted every shade of blue you can imagine. The hostel of course has kept this theme as well, but has taken it to a whole other level. Every room has been hand painted with different details such as stars and moons and Moroccan designs. When you step out onto the terrace, you feel as if you stepped into Wonderland. Blues, greens, yellows, with symbols and shapes have been painted onto the floor, walls, doors, and windows. It is truly amazing. We later found out that one man did most of the painting and artwork. He is a Moroccan from Chefchaouen and he works at the hostel as a helping hand but I swear he could make it big as an artist in Europe or North America. Amazing talent. After talking with the owner for a while, we decided to go out and walk around. She told us that Chefchaouen is pretty safe and the people for the most part will let you be and not hassle you. She listed off a few things to see, like the Spanish mosque on a nearby hill and the old wall of Chefchaouen, but she told us the real charm of this town is just walking the narrow streets and getting lost, because that is where the real treasures are found. That is one of my favourite things to do so I was very happy to wander around. It was the perfect time of day for us to visit the Spanish mosque on the hill as the sun was about to set. The walk up was very nice and provided us with some amazing views of the town. We stayed up there until dusk and took some great pictures. After that, we walked back to the hostel to get sone recommendations for a nice place to eat. Food in Morocco is extremely affordable so we took advantage of being able to go out for dinner here. We were told about a restaurant that serves really good traditional Moroccan cuisine so we decided to go there. The owners were really sweet and friendly and we were able to sit outside on the terrace. We both had a popular Moroccan dish called tagine and it was absolutely delicious. We had a three course meal for 40 Dirham each, which is the equivalent of around €4! Can't beat that! We actually ended up going back to the same restaurant the next night with a few people we met at the hostel and we had the most flavourful couscous! Points to Morocco for excellent food!

The next morning, after a tasty home made breakfast at our hostel, we went out with plans to get lost in the streets. Chefchaouen is really like something out of a dream. Like I said before, all the streets and alleys and walls are blue and white and everywhere you look is a different coloured and styled door. I was in heaven taking numerous photos to add to my door and window collection! I love how every house had a different one, as if they were competing against each other for the most unique one. We definitely felt a lot more at ease here and safer than in Tangier. We even met a really nice shop owner by the name of Abdul. Abdul was sitting outside of his carpet shop when we walked by. He smiled at us and said "hello" and asked us where we were from. We told him we were from Canada and he got really excited and said he was going to be visiting there in a few months. We asked him where, and we couldn't believe it when he said Calgary. We hadn't told him we were from Calgary so we were impressed with the odds on that one! When he invited us into his shop for some Moroccan tea, at first we were a little hesitant because we were worried he would then force us to buy something, but he insisted and told us not to worry. He said he understood why we were uneasy. He said that it is an unfortunate part of Morocco that some people are dishonest like that, but that he really just wanted to show some Moroccan hospitality. Finally we agreed, and we ended up having at least two servings of mint tea and over an hour of interesting conversations! We were so grateful for our first true conversation with someone from Morocco and learned a lot too. We were a little disappointed that we only had two nights in Chefchaouen. We would have liked to have spent at least one more day there, but we had plans for couch surfing in Meknes next. Trust me when I say this though: if you come to Morocco, get out of Tangier as fast as you can and head straight for little blue Chefchaouen and all it's charm! You will be able to see and experience a nicer Morocco here!

Jess
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