Chaouen, the blue mountain village

Three weeks ago we spent five days in Chefchaouen, Morocco. It was… an experience. We arrived off the ferry from Algeciras late at night, after spending forty minutes waiting for the customs man to stamp our passports (we had been the only people not to get them stamped during the two hour voyage, oops).

Luckily there was still a bus waiting to take us to Tangier. I will never forget that bus ride. We rode in air-conditioned style, the fastest thing on the road, passing hundreds of laden vans, all carrying illegal duvets down through Morocco. The bus driver drove straight down the middle of the lanes, honking and spitting at the cars in his way, until they pulled over slightly and he was free to continue down his median.

We arrived in Tangier to a chaotic medley of cars revving, angry horns blaring and people yelling, deposited on the side of the most hectic roundabout I have ever seen. While picking up our bags we were accosted by a friendly man who tried to pick them up, ushering us towards his taxi.

We were prepared for this, perhaps a little too prepared, and after a few firm no’s his smiling face vanished, and suddenly he was yelling at us, telling us to go back home, that we were racist, and he hates racists in Morocco. So, bewildered and overwhelmed we began our march into Tangiers, our backpacks heavy on our backs and my long sleeves tight on my arms in the humid heat.

The next day we took a grand taxi down to Chefchaouen, travelling in luxury and admiring the harsh, brown landscape rising into mountains, all while driving 140 kms around donkey ridden corners. I’m just glad I made it back from Morocco with my nails intact!

But we made it, and we arrived in the blue mountain village in the early afternoon. The car was flagged down by a local, who offered to show us the medina and the mosque. We waved him away, certain that we could find it ourselves and unwilling to commit to anything before at least stepping out of that car.

The driver continued on, around a corner, up two streets and around a roundabout, and we deposited ourselves on the pavement, shaky and more than a little nauseous. We managed to wrangle our change from the driver, and were just straightening up and looking around, when we were accosted again. By the same man! Who had by all accounts and purposes just sprinted up at least 800 metres after our car, and who now was smiling and not in the least bit puffed.

We were a little afraid of his superhuman abilities, and consented to follow him, exchanging suspicious glances with each other as we climbed hundreds of stairs after this happy man.

He took us up and through the labyrinth of blue that is the Chefchaouen medina, through the goats and markets and spices, and finally we found a hostel willing to let us sleep on their roof terrace for only 35 dirham a night.

We spent an interesting four days in Chaouen, relaxing on the roof terrace, happily being hassled by everyone we met outside and denying countless offers of hashish.

The blue walls were amazing, and the food was unbelievably cheap, though we ordered with caution. My favourite parts were the spice bags, and the blue walls, the colours were so beautifully vibrant.

And my least favourite part? Maybe the flea bites from our rooftop terrace bed – I still have the marks!


12 thoughts on “Chaouen, the blue mountain village”

  1. Oh Morroco, Tangier, Marrakesh, Fes, Meknes and a few others I can’t remember the names of. Stepping of the boat from Gibraltar and being accosted by hashish sellers and all those colours and taning vats, the sahara and having our tents ripped open by wolves while we were eating at the cabins. Thanks for bringing back some memories for me, lost since the 80s 🙂

      1. I would love to! Do you mind if I used one of your photos on my blog sometime? It would be for a series I do on inspiration, and I would credit as well as include a ping back to you?

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