Salaam Alaikum from Chefchaouen, a beautiful blue city in the mountains of Northeast Morocco.... its also the hashish capital of the country but since I've never been fond of smoking, I haven't indulged in their famous export. Instead, I've been taking a ton of photos, since according to Wikitravel "this humble town is the embodiment of almost every Moroccan cliché. The picturesque medina, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Rif Mountains, is filled with white-washed homes with distinctive, powder-blue accent." It makes the perfect location for an impromptu photo shoot.. at 8 in the morning before all the tourists, merchants, hawkers, and flocks of people come and ruin every photo... :)
A little history lesson about Chefchaouen: its powder-blue buildings were designed for a religious reason. Jewish teachings suggest that by dyeing thread with tekhelel (an ancient natural dye) and weaving it into prayer shawls, people would be reminded of God’s power. The memory of this tradition lives on in the regularly repainted blue buildings... #themoreyouknow
I wasn't originally planning on visiting Chefchaouen. However, after seeing people's photos and hearing their rave reviews, I decided that I'd skip the scorching desert since I've already visited the Sahara in Egypt and instead make my way to this cool little oasis :)
It was a huge pain in the ass to get here though, since I was so down south in Essaouria and the town is all the way up north. I took a 6 hour bus from Essaouria to Casablanca and had to spend the night there, which is where i ran into a creepy taxi driver. When I got to the city, there was still a ton of daylight, so I decided to take a cab to a hostel. Since I was alone, I decided to sit in the front seat in case there was any funny business... in my mind I could just punch the driver in the balls and take the wheel (Even though i don't know how to drive.. minor detail.) When I first got into the cab he was chatting with me and saying some weird things.. which at first I thought i was misunderstanding (lost in translation) so I let it slide.. but then he started grabbing my leg and i told him not to fucking touch me and when he didn't stop, I told him to pullover and drop me off at a busy intersection... then he was trying to charge me some outrageous amount, even though we had only been driving for like 10 minutes (if not less) and i refused to pay it so i just started screaming on the top of my lungs, which obviously drew a ton of attention and embarrassed him, so he tossed my bag out of the car and drove away. and of course, i reallyyyy wanted a drink after the incident... and i couldn't even get that because it's so hard to get alcohol here. LE SIGH. but seriously, it was a scary moment. it was the first time i've felt nervous traveling alone as a female.. it's been a little tough in morocco, despite traveling with men most of the time.. but everything is alll good..
ANYWHOSE, after that incident, i just was a little shaken up so i just holed myself up at a hotel until the next morning where i took another 6 hour bus from Casablanca. I met a really nice Swiss girl, Serafina, and we decided we'd go to Akchour the next day, where there's a nice hike and pretty waterfall. When I got to my hostel I bumped into a guy I met in Marrakech, Ethan, and he decided to join in the excursion. We all met in the main square at 10 and took a grand taxi about 40 minutes away to start our hike. On the way there, we bumped into a group of Americans and Canadians who were also on their way to the waterfall, so we all ended up taking the trip together... other than a few wrong turns that led us to steep patches and thorny bushes, the hike was pretty easy and took about 2 hours. we ended up seeing a snake floating in the water which freaked me out, as well as monkey who seemed to want to fight a dog that was following us.
when we got to the falls, there were a lot of local guys so i decided to not take a dip in the water since i didn't want to be on full display.. luckily on our way back we found a swimming hole that was more private so i was able to jump in. but anywhosee.. the water was freezing but we had a good time just chillen. when we got back to Chefchaouen, we all were starving so we decided to meet at a place called Aladdin (pronounced AY-LA-DEAN) at 7 for food.
Aladdin had spectacular views and decent food.. I'd say we paid for the ambiance.. which was fine with me since it was like $5 (more on the pricier side!) for my meal and good conversation... after dinner we grabbed some sweets from the local stand which was less than 10 cents and sooo delicious. and i got the most amazing yogurt ever..
anywhose.. tomorrow i head over to fes, where i'll spend the night and then catch a flight to barcelona. as much as i loved morocco, i'm ready to head out. it's been an exhausting experience but i've absolutely loved it. hard to believe it's been 10 days, but i've done some amazing things and met some awesome people.. however... i'm looking forward to wearing shorts and getting drunk on the streets. and seeing some friends from NYC -- yay!!