Chefchaouen – View from the ‘Spanish’ mosque

The ‘blue town’ nestled at the foot of the mountains, Chefchaouen is a keep-fit paradise. A mini obstacle course, the narrow streets rise and fall with surprising degrees of angle; the house walls of each building adorned with one of the many shades of blue. The blue decoration is (generally) a distinctive two-tone blue and white pattern, one pleasing to the eye. It creates a cooling effect, although at this time of the year the weather, early morning and evening, is cold, the temperature around 2-4 degrees. During the day, I estimate temperatures rise to around the 20° mark, but the alleys, shielded by the 3-4 story houses, remain around 15° .

the streets

The upper part of the town has fewer shops, a blessed relief from the contrasting lower area, which teems with them. These range from restaurants and cafe’s, to bakers’ and habadasheries, the majority stocked with local handmade clothing and leather goods (bags, clothing, shoes, purses, etc). The clothing varies; from Djabalas to heavy sweaters and jackets (for men) made from camel hair, hemp or sheep wool, while similar articles for women are made of lighter material. As with most ‘tourist’ centres, the local traders are an annoyance as they constantly try to tempt you with their wares, but, after a few hours, one soon learns to turn a ‘deaf’ ear.

Local wares (1)

In Chefchaouen many nationalities come and go, and it wasn’t long before I met up with two familiar faces from my time in Fes; Ray, a Taiwanese American and Sori, a Korean girl, living in France. Their lodging was a hostel run by an English couple where a lot of travellers go and the atmosphere is pleasant, while the hostel I stayed at (Pension Cordoba) was small, cold and devoid of tourists. The way the cookie crumbles sometimes. 

We explored together for a few days, and it was a great experience. By coincidence, while taking photos a family were watching from their balcony high above the street. The kids all waved and shouted, then to our surprise appeared at the entrance (street level) and gestured for us to follow them. The mothers and aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins etc all live in this one apartment block, each dwelling linked to each other by a flight of stairs. Our communication was limited, but fortunately Sori spoke French; many Moroccans do. We stayed for about 2 hours, the family provided food and drink and we all left truly enriched by the experience and the generosity of our hosts.
Sori and mother of our Arab family
next – Fes