By Karlie Marrazzo
As the bus wound back and forth through the Rif Mountains, ever so slowly getting closer to Chefchaouen, the sun had already gone down. I did not get the spectacular welcome view that I had been hoping for, but two days in the blue washed village would more than make up for it.
It was pitch dark by the time we arrived and it felt like the desolate bus station was in the middle of nowhere. After getting ripped off by the taxi driver to the laughable tune of $1.30, we met Carlos, one of the Spanish owners of Casa La Palma, and dove into the winding, twisting, up-and-down, and full-of-stairs town that is Chefchaouen. It was raining that night, and for most of our visit. The cobblestones were so slick I’m surprised I managed to keep myself upright.
Chefchaouen isn’t rich in terms of sightseeing as we know it, but it doesn’t need to be. The town itself is the sight. All you need to do is step out of your casa or riad and wander. Every wall and every door in the medina are painted white and a calming tone of blue, with the colours splashing onto the cobblestones. The constant grey sky and rain made the place even more atmospheric, along with the twisted, barren trees rising up between the cracks and creeping along the sides of buildings and baskets of spices in a rainbow of colours. The medina is small and perfect for aimless wandering. You can never get lost and I never got bored or tired of seeing countless ornate doors, Moroccan men walking with their hands behind their backs, heads covered with heavy hoods, or cats perched against picturesque backdrops.
Walking through the medina, I took each step gingerly and slowly, running my hand along the walls for support, while kids from two to twenty years old were running by me at top speed as if they were on a perfectly flat, dry surface. How envious I was of them.
Thanks to the altitude and the dampness in the air, the 11C seemed much chillier than that. Even though I’m Canadian and I’m used to terribly cold temperatures, the winters in Edmonton are dry. I was wearing a long sleeved merino wool undershirt and long johns the whole time and I was still freezing. The weather probably didn’t help my ear pain, which was getting worse. I was feeling more fatigued by the hour. Ana, Carlos’ wonderful wife, gave me tea tree oil soaked cotton to put in my ears in the hopes that it would make me feel a bit better.
Since I wasn’t feeling well, I was happy to take it slow. But if you visit Chefchaouen and want to do more than admire it’s beauty and take photos, you can visit the Kasbah for 10DH. There is a waterfall on the edge of the medina, Ras el Maa, which is beloved by locals, as well as many hikes in the surrounding mountains. Dave and I were content to sip on delicious mint tea on a heated outdoor patio and watch life go on around us.
Chefchaouen is dazzlingly beautiful and calm, a perfect introduction to Moroccan life without the hustle and bustle of the big cities. It’s no wonder that every Moroccan we talked to on our trip told us that Chefchaouen was their favourite place in the country.
For more photos from my Morocco trip, click here.