Chechaouen is a small town set into the Rif Mountains in Northwest Morocco. Founded in 1471, many Moriscos and Jews settled here after the Spanish Recoquista. In 1920, the Spanish conquered Chechaouen in their effort to form part of the ‘Spanish Morocco’. Subsequently, Spain returned the city after the independence of Morocco in 1956. There are still two Spanish cities in Africa-Ceuta and Melilla. Chefchaouen is easily accessible due to its proximity to the Spanish exclave of Ceuta. This and the fact that everything is blue, make Chechaouen a very popular tourist destination. This region and countryside surrounding it, is known as a bountiful source of Kier and is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco.
Morocco, in my opinion, requires a thick skin. My senses definitely took a beating over the course of the weekend. To be honest, it was a bit mentally exhausting. I was pounced and badgered by a endless amount of beggars reaching out from all directions. It required extra diligence to stay on guard. These beggars take the shape of children, tattooed woman, glossy-eyed men and stray cats. It was intense and required a lot of energy! These people are extremely poor-the average income is equivalent to $100.00 a week. Entonces, I think they were viewing me as a walking cash dispenser.
I cultivate an enormous amount of knowledge throughout my travels. I see and experience things that I previously could not of imagined. It is weekends like this that push me to the boundary of my ability to function within a different culture. I must say that I have satisfied my built-in, deep-rooted curiosity about how life is over there.
I am one experience richer after my weekend in Morocco. And, for this alone, I am beyond grateful. It was for sure an escapade that I will never forget.
I haven’t the vaguest notion of where to begin narrating my adventures in Morocco. We arrived at our 3 star hotel in an unknown town of Morocco at 10:30 Friday night. Shortly after this was when I found myself on the side of the road eating snails with a really handsome Moroccan guy. And, this as it would turn out, would definitely be the highlight of my weekend.
Snails are a street stall staple in Morocco where men sell them by the broth filled bowl. When my Moroccan boyfriend saw me eyeing them, he threw the vendor some dirham. The next thing I knew I had 2 bowls in hand-one filled with steaming snails and the other with broth. The Moroccan snails are white and smaller than the French version of escargot. Not for one second did I contemplate putting it into my mouth! I reached for a safety pin as my extraction tool of choice and minutes later the bowl was gone and I was handed a new one. The only thing slowing me down was that these little suckers are a bit springy. I chased down my snails with two large cupfulls of this briny broth. I could taste the aniseed, licorice root and mint. I was so thankful for this pit stop because I, of course, refused to eat my dinner at the hotel.
Our first stop on Saturday morning was the Medina in Tètouan. Tètouan is a town in northern Morocco. Arabic is the official language and the majority religion is Islam. The Medina of Tètouan is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It is a city within walls with extremely narrow maze-like streets. And, it had a very distinctive smell that I believe will forever be ingrained in me. I have never experienced anything like the marketplace in this Medina. It took us hours just to weave our way through the hustle and bustle.
After our trip to the market, we were off to the Tannery. Okay, this is definitely not for the meak. The smell is just positively formidable. I held mint in front of my noise for about an hour as I kept a tab on this place. I walked around eyeballing everything. Prior to this experience, I had honestly believed that my prior work conditions were indefensible. But now this was simply grotesque. The sights and smells of this place have left a lasting impression with me.
We then walked through old town stopping for a mint tea on our way to the other side of town to find lunch.
During lunch a local woman gave us henna tattoo’s.
Our next stop was ‘Hercules Cave’ in Tangier. Apparently this is where Hercules rested after his 12 labours.
And we were off to visit the camels.
We ended our day with a walk through the Medina of Tangier.