Travel

Chefchaouen: You Gave Me the Blues

 

If Greece has Santorini, Morocco has…

Chefchaouen…

If Santorini is white, Chaouen is blue…

My comparison ends there.

A small picturesque town hidden between the twin Rif peaks of Jebel ech Chaouen where Spanish-influence intertwined with Jewish tradition that resulted in a charming town of white-washed homes with powder-blue accents…

2da25-img_9812

Tucked in the northeast corner of Morocco away from the hustle and bustle of the more famous Imperial Cities, Antik and I were glad to have discovered this gem while researching for our trip. It was a no-brainer. Chaouen must be in our list!

With only a little over half a day to explore this town, here’s how we spent the time:

1. Enjoyed our guesthouse and the view. Located uphill of a mountain away from the medina, it was a little difficult to locate and hard to get to. However, we were rewarded with good views of Chaouen from the rooftop terrace of Rif-for Anyone Guesthouse. We took time to fancy the coziness and rustic appeal of the interiors (check out the mural of Chaouen medina and a brick fireplace in the photos below, aren’t they cool?). And now I wonder why oh why don’t we have pics in our room 😛 Paging Antik! Do you remember why???

Then we set off to the medina, and…

d4b60-img_9297

d0d04-img_8474

5ce0c-img_9804

2. People-watched while taking breakfast # 2. That we only had very, very light breakfast in the guesthouse + a little bit of hiking led us to…

Eating again as soon as we reached the medina. Haha!!! 

We found a perfect place to satisfy our hunger pangs and Antik’s desire to people-watch. We settled for a cheap eatery in the main square right in front of the Kasbah. We had Spanish omelet, Moroccan bread and my favorite (hot) i-can-never-get-enough-of Moroccan mint tea 🙂

The place is a perfect for people-watching. At that time of the day, tourist crowds are nowhere in sight which is the best time to observe the “real” Chaouen. As we noted throughout our trip, men sitting idly with their mint tea was a common sight. Chaouen was not an exception. Early in the morning, old men in their djellabas are already at the square people-watching 🙂 And where are the women? Bringing their kids to school or busy with the errands for the day. Overall, we noted that Chaouenis are laidback and relaxed people.

After breakfast, we headed to…

d9a6a-img_8417

5a20e-img_9728

8b2c8-img_9731

9c963-img_9721

4624e-img_9301

d9073-img_9303

3. Visit the Kasbah. Entrance to the Kasbah-turned-museum is free. The architecture is simple Arabic-Moorish with a garden at the center. Frankly, there is not much to see inside so we did not spend a lot of time there and proceeded to…

b662c-img_9763

1fcaa-img_9764

bd92f-img_9765

34246-img_9774

001a8-img_9775

130ed-img_9784

b15e5-img_9790

4. Go souvenir hunting 🙂 Curious what souvenirs and knick-knacks we will be brining home from Chaouen, we set off inside the blue medina. Surprisingly, we found some unique stuff like the blue Chaouen door replica, leather bracelets of different colors and colorful woven lamps. What did we buy? None of these, except for leather bracelets and Antik’s bling blings 🙂

Our souvenir hunting resulted to a lot of walking. There was no specific alley to go to, no specific shop to look for, no specific item to buy. We walked in a leisurely pace, allowing our gut feel to take charge and our feet to…   

b2492-img_9761

2cb2d-img_9305

2242a-img_8432

fce68-img_9315

005a0-img_9752

a0418-img_8411

5. Get lost in the blue medina’s meandering alleys… We saw markets with women selling their wares, from vegetables to spices to live chickens. We saw women in their traditional wear shopping for fresh produce. We saw a few children running. We passed by a local bookstore and more shops still closed. We noticed artistic store signs. We went on deserted blue alleys. We saw doors, windows and walls of different designs in different shades of blue. We saw riads in (what else) blue deep inside the medina, and we wondered how tough it would be to locate them in this maze. We stopped if we had to, took pictures if we wanted to and observed the locals go on with their daily lives.

We let ourselves be blown away by the charm of this unique medina. We allowed ourselves to be relaxed with the varying shades of blue, which certainly has a way to soothe the soul.

b2a67-img_8422

1db09-img_8434

75be2-img_8442

11922-img_8443

8e476-img_9312

2c372-img_9738

169e9-img_9744

12342-img_9750

f271c-img_9745

Contrary to our usual mindset where our itinerary was jampacked with sights to cover and things to do and structures to look out for, we did the exact opposite in Chaouen. We relaxed our senses. And we thought we did right. That was how Chaouen should be appreciated.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

 

 

Trivia:

– Why blue? The color blue is said to be a Jewish heritage to Chefchaouen when they came for refuge in the 1930’s. Jewish tradition dictates that prayer shawls must be dyed in natural blue processed from a specific blue shellfish. The blue shawls will remind them of the blue sky and God above them. 

– Warning: Chefchaouen has the reputation of being the center of marijuana plantation in the region. Drugs are widespread and somehow tolerated according to guide books. Just be aware of this when you go. 

One thought on “Chefchaouen: You Gave Me the Blues

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s